N.J. counties could get control of beaches

 The beach in Mantoloking, N.J., Ocean County in early November. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

The beach in Mantoloking, N.J., Ocean County in early November. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure that would allow Atlantic, Cape May, Ocean and Monmouth counties to control the operation and maintenance of their beaches.

A countywide beach maintenance and beach fee system would help control costs for tourists, said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

“If you’re taking a walk on the beach from Spring Lake to Belmar, you need another badge. If you’re on LBI and you want to go visit friends who live in the next town, you need another badge,” he said. “Eight different badges on Long Beach Island, it makes no sense.”

Jeanne DiPaola, the director of tourism for Ocean County, said the county and many local towns oppose the measure.

“It seems to work very effectively the way it is right now with the individual towns guarding and maintaining the beaches,” she said. “There are differences within the individual towns, and they want to keep it that way.”

The bill, which has been approved by committees in the Senate and Assembly, will now move to the full Legislature for consideration. There’s no indication when a vote might be scheduled.

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