It’s your money. Doesn’t that mean it’s your beach?
Millions of tax dollars are being spent by the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build protective dunes and widen beaches along the along the Jersey Shore, as part of efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to limit damage from future storms.
Because those projects are bankrolled with federal Sandy relief funds, some say coastal communities taking the money should be forced to make sure all of their beaches are easily accessible to the public.
State Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic County) is sponsoring a bill to require that the state’s shore-protection projects include more public access to the waterfront.
“The public needs to be guaranteed access to the beaches that are built with that money,” said Tim Dillingham, director of the American Littoral Society, an organization focused on coastal issues.
Tracey Samuelson of WHYY/NewsWorks, a partner of NJ Spotlight, examines the issue of beach access and public financing of shore improvements.