By Liz Sheehan
SEA BRIGHT – Twenty-three years after the state Shore Protection Fund was established, prompted by a series of storms that devastated the state’s coastline, legislation has been proposed to double the amount in the fund from $25 million to $50 million.
On Tuesday, at a press conference at the Sea Bright beach co-sponsored by the Jersey Shore Partnership and the Eastern Monmouth County Chamber of Commerce, sponsors of the identical Senate and Assembly bills that would double the fund spoke of how necessary the increase in the fund, used primarily for beach replenishment projects, was.
Speaking on a bright sunny morning, while standing before a banner with the names of the two sponsoring groups on the boardwalk at the town’s public beach, Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-13), who co-sponsored the bill to double the fund’s amount along with Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1), spoke of the creation of the protection fund when the towns along the coast were pounded by the high tides and waves in the 1990’s storms. At that time, he said, there was no provision for state aid for the shoreline.
Now the amount needs to be increased, he said, “We want it to be $50 million.”
Kyrillos said that people from the state and out of the state want to come to Sea Bright and the rest of the Jersey shore and the area needs the protection that an increased state fund would provide.
“This is a popular place,” Kyrillos said referring to Sea Bright and its beaches,” “I can’t get over the bridge from Rumson to Sea Bright,” when he was driving to the beach he said, referring to the bridge that connects the two towns and opens to let boat pass on the river.
Kyrillos joked with Sea Bright Dina Long about the wait for the bridge.
The Shore Protection Fund partners the federal and state government with the state contributing 35 percent and the federal government 65 percent for projects.
Both the Senate bill and the Assembly bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini, (R-11) and Assemblymen David Wolfe (R-10), Sean Kean (R-30), Thomas Giblin (D-34) and Samuel Fiocchi (R-1) are now in committee.
Long said that Sea Bright was the “northern door of the Jersey Shore.” “We know how important the Jersey Shore is to so many,” she said. It is “the buffer that keeps inland safe,” Long said.
Sandy showed us “just how critical shore protection is,” she said. “All is for naught without the sand,” Long said.
Before the press conference, Margot Walsh, the executive director of the Jersey Shore Partnership said that former state Senator Thomas Gagliano, a Republican from Monmouth County, one of the founders of the partnership played a key role in establishing the Shore Protection Fund.
On its website the group says “it is a nonprofit advocate of initiatives that are unique and important to the Jersey shore communities with an emphasis on shore protection and beach replenishment to protect our coastline…”
Lynda Rose, Rumson, the president of the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce, said that there was no better time to emphasis the importance of the need to increase the amount of the protection fund than “as the hurricane season looms.”
She said the said the shore was the state’s largest visitor destination, contributing millions of dollars in tourist spending.
Other speakers at the press conference were Angelini, Wolfe, Walsh, Freeholder Tom Arnone and Jersey Shore Partnership President Bob Mainberger.
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