On the heels of a state announcement that boaters will pay a $3 fee to access Island Beach State Park from Tices Shoal in the Barnegat Bay this summer, an Ocean County woman is circulating a petition in opposition.
Boaters who access the park from the popular Tices Shoal, a shallow area in the bay where boaters congregate during the warm months, will pay the fee when lifeguards are on duty as they enter the beach area along Fisherman’s Walkway, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
For the first time, lifeguards will protect the oceanfront area opposite Tices Shoal — the only entrance to the state park via boat.
“The safety of our park visitors is our first priority,” said Richard Boornazian, DEP Assistant Commissioner of Natural and Historic Resources. “Emergencies in unguarded sections of the park often results in compromised lifeguard resources at our main pavilion areas where swimming is permitted. So providing this additional protection at the popular A-7 section will benefit all users of the park.”
But Kelly Czupkiewicz says the fee is a “shameless money grab by the state,” enumerating reasons in her petition why it’s a bad idea.
“There has been no need for a lifeguard to be placed at the beach, which will be accompanying and ‘justifying’ the new charge,” the petition says. “There are other ways to raise money for state parks.”
Among other reasons, the petition notes that pedestrians and bicyclists can enter the park at the front entrance for free and patrons will create many “alternate routes” through the dunes to avoid paying the fee.
“If Tices has gone on for 20-plus years with no lifeguards and no charge, what is changing here?” she says. “Owning a boat is wildly expensive in N.J. Doing anything in N.J. is wildly expensive. Tices is such a special spot to so many locals.”
But others agree with the access fee.
“Hope you never need a lifeguard while partying from Tices,” Eleanor Notre Chrzanowski wrote on JSHN. “$3.00 pretty cheap for your life…”
Danielle Decker wrote that paying a fee for beach access is common.
“You should have to pay. You pay at Seaside, you pay if you drive in the gate and you pay to drive on the beach!” she wrote.
And Allison Fontanez added that “[e]ither way you pay — boat or car. Why should boaters go for free.”
A park official said in a release that the objective is to provide fair beach access.
“Our goal is to provide safe and equitable access to all of our visitors,” said Island Beach State Park manager Ray Bukowski.
Click for last week’s article announcing the fee.