Jersey Shore Partnership, key lawmakers seek doubled shore protection fund
The Jersey Shore Partnership and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers from disparate spots around New Jersey hope to convince the full legislature to add $25,000,000.00 to the dedicated Shore Protection Fund for a total of $50,000,000.00 annually. They believe it is a vital fund in protecting our coastline for residents and vacationers to enjoy - and in preventing statewide tax hikes for the purpose.
Executive Director of the Jersey Shore Partnership, Margot Walsh, says they have a lot of legislative support because leaders understand the importance of protecting our coast.
The challenge is ensuring there's enough funding.
Following severe coastal storms in 1991, the legislature in 1992 created a $15,000,000.00 annual dedicated Shore Protection Fund to keep safe private property and infrastructure from coastal storm damage as well as erosion and shoreline migration.
Six years later the annual total was driven up to $25,000,000.00 where its stood ever since.
Superstorm Sandy capped the field of storms causing damage to the coast between 1998 and 2017.
"We have a cost-sharing partnership with the federal government that pays 65-percent for the cost of all our beach replenishment projects to our 35-percent," said Walsh. "That 35-percent for the local share, and of that the state matches 75-percent to the municipalities share of 25-percent."
It equals out to nine-cents on the dollar, she adds, and the fund has collected more federal funding than any other state on the coast outside of Florida.
She says there's also growing concern federal funding for the Shore Protection may one day dry up and put future projects on hold.
Walsh explains that the funds are used to maintain beach replenishment projects among others to keep the coastline health and ready for a storm.
"The DEP contracts with dredging companies to do the work and they enter into a contract with the Army Corps of Engineers," said Walsh. "The contracts are then signed into work."
The Shore Protection Fund is run by the NJ DEP Bureau of Coastal Engineering and is designed to aid the coast for various coastline projects and match the cost of federal funding.
Shore Assemblyman Dave Rible (R-30), and nearly 20 state lawmakers in both houses, concur with Walsh and the advocacy group on this issue.
Senate Bill S-311 would raise the amount in the Shore Protection Fund from $25-million to $50-million dollars to pay for projects protecting our coast.
Rible says legislative officials see no problem with that amount...the problem is determining its priority.
"I think we also understand that other matters come up," said Rible. "There could be 20 things on the list and this could be number two, then an issue could come up for another funding matter and now that number goes to twelve."
It's usually due to an emergency need, he adds, but if more people continue to reach out to their representatives it may move this issue back up on the list.
Rible says Superstorm Sandy delayed several projects from starting and it has been piling up.
"The extra funding...we have to get back to where we were pre-sandy and move forward to protect our coast for the future," said Rible.
He believes if the bill was to be presented on the floor as soon as this week, he's confident it would eclipse the 41 necessary votes to pass.
Want to learn more about The Jersey Shore Partnership - The Sand on the Beach People? They're inviting you to their Summer Celebration' on Monday, June 5 at Fort Hancock in Sandy Hook.
For more information on the organization e-mail Margot Walsh or call her, 732-212-4145.
To sign up or learn more about their summer fundraising event, or open house, head to their website to sign up.
"We honor people who have really contributed enormously to the community," said Walsh.
Those being honored this year will be:
- Hackensack Meridian Health will be honored with the Tom Gagliano Leadership Award for Innovative Partnerships.
- Curtis Bashaw, Cape Advisors, will receive the Outstanding Leadership Award for Historic Preservation.
- Domenic DiPiero, Newport Capital Group, will receive the Partnership’s Outstanding Community Service Award.