A Jersey Shore municipality long known for its strict parking requirements that critics say limits public beach access now proposes to loosen restrictions as the Army Corps of Engineers gets set to replenish beaches.
Ocean County’s Mantoloking, a small barrier island community that’s also one of the most affluent municipalities in the Unites States, was slammed by Superstorm Sandy.
The devastation was so significant that an inlet formed near the Mantoloking Bridge. Route 35, a vital state highway running along the barrier island, washed away near the bridge but was rebuilt in the months after the storm.
Municipality proposes ordinance to ease parking restrictions
Since Sandy, the borough has grappled with its narrow beaches, and despite some resistance by private property owners, the Army Corps is now set to replenish its beaches to the tune of millions of dollars.
But the borough must hold up its end of the multimillion-dollar bargain by ensuring fair parking and access, as required by state and federal authorities.
“In order to obtain government funds, Mantoloking must make our beaches accessible to the public. This includes ample parking, access points and toilet facilities,” the borough posted on its website.
The municipality seeks to accomplish its goal by adopting an ordinance that is set for introduction on May 16.
According to the legislation, all areas with a two hour parking limit will increase to four hours, and East Avenue and all streets connecting with the roadway on the southern portion will allow unlimited parking.
Officials say the federal work will complement a protective steel sheeting piling wall installed in 2014, bolstering protection of the highly vulnerable properties.
Beach project extends beyond Mantoloking
The replenishment and dune building project along 14-miles of beachfront in Ocean County’s northern barrier island begins next month in Ortley Beach, a small section of Toms River known as “ground zero” for the catastrophic property damage inflicted by the storm.
Crews are scheduled to begin working in Mantoloking in mid-July and continue through September.
The project, totaling $128 million for the entire island from Point Pleasant Beach to South Seaside Park, will result in dunes 22 feet above sea level and 100 to 300 foot wide beaches.
Crews will use multiple-suction hopper dredges to pull up sand from offshore along with a cutter-head dredge, which is a large barge that sits offshore and pumps sand continuously onto the beach by way of a pipeline.
65 percent of the funding will come from the 2013 federal Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, while the state will fund the remaining 35 percent from the Shore Protection Fund.
Not everyone is happy with the replenishment plan
In Sept. 2016, Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club said the project’s funding should be going toward other methods in dealing with flooding risks.
Parking wars continue elsewhere
Mantoloking’s decision to ease parking and access limitations comes at the same time as Monmouth County’s Deal, another small wealthy community, is set to vote on adopting parking regulations on some beach roadways.
The ordinance calls for a $100 permit for summer parking. Municipal officials have said the permit fees will fund beach maintenance in the community, which is a recent benefactor of a $40 million Army Corps beach replenishment project.
But beach access advocate and attorney Andrew Chambarry, who led a successful fight against two recent attempts by the borough to adopt strict parking regulations, is once again calling foul.
“It’s clear to everyone that the Borough intends to keep surfers, fishermen and the public away to benefit beachfront residents. We have a right to access and enjoy the shoreline under New Jersey law. We can’t allow Deal to restrict access to beaches that we all paid for,” he said.
Chambarry, who says the ordinance hearing is set for May 10, is circulating a petition in an effort to defeat the measure.