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By ARep | December 20th, 2012 - 11:03am
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KEAN BLASTS SWEENEY PROPOSAL THAT FORCES TOWNS TO OFFER FREE BEACH ACCESS IF THEY TAKE FEDERAL AID TO REBUILD

Assemblyman Sean T. Kean, R-Monmouth and Ocean, says that a proposal by Senate President Stephen Sweeney that would force towns to choose between federal aid for beach replenishment or collect beach fees is a short-sighted measure that could devastate beach towns along the Jersey Shore that are in the process of rebuilding in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

“This legislation could financially devastate some hard hit towns,” said Kean. “Why would we ask towns such as Belmar and Manasquan to forgo charging a beach fee because they accepted federal funds to replenish their beach? Right now, these towns have to pay a portion of the huge cost to rebuild the boardwalks and bathrooms. If you couple that with the loss of beach badge revenue, it is going to be a huge cost for the local taxpayer to pick up.”

Kean is also concerned that this legislation could imperil critical lifeguarding services. Most towns use beach badge fees to pay for lifeguards to protect swimmers at the beaches.

“If towns cannot collect beach fees they might have to pass that cost onto their taxpayers, eliminate or reduce the cost of lifeguards, or ask Trenton for more local aid. This is the last thing beach towns need on their plate right now.”

Kean said some towns in his legislative district take in millions of dollars in beach fees. For instance, Avon-by-the Sea collected an estimated $1.5 million from the sale of beach tags. Sea Girt collected an estimated $950,000.

Kean stated, “While every town should be looking at ways to save money and share services, I don’t believe this measure is a prudent way to bring about shared services, especially not at this time.”

“Many of these communities have been ravaged by Sandy. Our boardwalks are gone, businesses are destroyed and many people lost their homes. Why are we even talking about this now?” asked Kean. In Monmouth and Ocean counties, we are working hard to restore the Shore. I am strongly opposed to this bill and any other that’s going to impede that progress.”

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