An environmental group will be planting dune grass and holding a rally to try and preserve one of the last coastal open space sites in Monmouth County.

The Surfrider Foundation will be joining with the American Littoral Society and the Citizens for Oceanfront Preservation at the northernmost beach in Asbury Park Saturday April 14th , trying to preserve the cities only natural dunes and voicing opposition to the area being turned into a residential development known as the “Town Homes at Bradley Cove”.

Joe Woerner, chair of the Jersey Shore Chapter of the Surf rider Foundation, says the development has lots of problems with it.

“One it would restrict access to the beach, its going to be built on public green acres land, it will state pinelands, and a bunch of other coastal zone management rules violations.”

The Surfrider Foundation has been fighting for the past five years to preserve the land, however Woerner notes Saturday’s event will be a general coastal preservation rally.

“We’ve chosen this site because it’s one of the last open spaces in Monmouth County, we’re going to plant dune grass to help preserve the site and protect against storm, and talk about how that is actually one of the sites on the Jersey Shore that has open access.”

Woerner believes this is the perfect time for the city government, county government, and developer to come together and save the spot. He says it’s because the county is beginning the appraisal process and the freeholders and the recreation commissioners are interested in a county park in the area. All the while, he notes the city and developer are augmenting their residential development plans.

“This is an opportunity for everyone to come to the table, and take a look at the plan which too heavy in residential construction and remove some of those [residential pieces].”

Woerner believes the area would be an ideal spot for a county park which would increase property values and be of value to the community.

In addition to a green acres area, Surfrider says the area is a flood zone and Woerner cites the importance of keeping natural barriers in tact, especially after last years storms.

“After all of the storm damage with Irene this is an area we should preserve and enhance to protect whatever existing structures are there [from storm water].”

Additionally he notes open space lands provide invaluable recreational area for residents and habitat for wildlife.

He says one of the most important things to be considered is that residential development actually pays back less money in taxes than open space.

“So there’s been discussion in town about ‘Well we’re going to lose some ratables’ when in fact you would actually increase the value of the surrounding properties by building the park there.”

He notes coastline properties are great for developers who build the properties, sell them at a high price, and walk away; but it creates a lot of problems for municipalities and taxpayers to provide protection from storms and replenish the beaches.

The issue of beach access is also a major factor Woerner says.

“Your talking about a site that’s used by fishermen, surfers, dog lovers, beach goers, bird watchers, and is completely open and accessible with free parking and multiple access points that’s used as a park. You’ll be building right into open space, right in green acres open space, these homes will absolutely cut the view off and just cut a big wedge.”