Protecting the Coast and Tourism “After Sandy you couldsee the difference betweenthe areas of town where thedunes were maintained andmoney was invested andthe areas where that mon-ey wasn’t spent. We need todo the right thing to protectall of our coastal communi-ties,” Perry said. But pending before theLegislature are bills that aimto double the cap on fundingto $50 million annually. Margot Walsh, JSP executive director, said bill A-826 has stalled in the state Assembly, but she is encouraged by the recent advancement of bill S-1614 out of the state’s Environment and Energy Committee and into the Budget and Appropriations Committee. The next step would be a move to the state Senate for a vote. Perry and Walsh agreethat providing additionalfunding to protect the shoreis a move that will protect a$20 billion coastal tourismindustry in the state. A 200-foot-tall tide gate at Pews Creek is still being completed. It will be an automated lift gate model complete with 20-by-22-foot steel panels that can be clamped shut to keep stormwaters at bay. “Since Sandy there’sbeen a lot more work to do,and not just in the Bayshorearea, but for all of the state’sbeaches and coastal towns.And expenses for thesemaintenance projects haveincreased tremendously.It’s time for the fund to beincreased as well,” Walshsaid. “The resiliency of our coastline is critical to the future of our state’s economy, job growth, infrastructure, tourism and business development,” Walsh added. “The cost-share partnership with the Army Corps has provided a return on investment of billions in federal dollars for beach restoration and maintenance projects. And the beaches and shore directly account for $20 billion of New Jersey’s $44 billion tourism spending economy.” The most visible piece of the Port Monmouth Flood Control Project is a 200-foot-tall, automated tide gate at Pews Creek, complete with 20-by-22-foot steel panels that can be closed to keep stormwater from spreading.Photo by Chris Rotolo The Shore Protection Fund was established in 1992 following a series of destructive nor’easters that caused damage to properties from high winds and coastal flooding. The initial bill authorized $15 million to be transferred from the state’s real estate transfer tax and dedicated to beach and dune-erosion projects, as well as other shore protections measures. That annual cap bank was increased to $25 million in 1998 and has not been increased since. “I’m completely on board,” O’Scanlon said. “Our shoreline is the most valuable asset in Monmouth County, and one that is easy to take for granted. I understand that residents are pushing for increased funding and I stand with them.” Sen. Declan O’Scanlon(R-13) pledged to supportthe bill. MIDDLETOWN – For two decades, the amount of money annually dedicated to the state’s Shore Protection Fund has remained steady at $25 million. The fund was established to protect property owners from coastal storm damage, erosion and sea level rise. Another major aspect of the project is a retaining wall with a mechanized road closure gate at the entrance to the Monmouth Cove Marina.Photo by Chris Rotolo A long flood wall and road closure gate near Port Monmouth Road and the Monmouth Cove Marina, and the installation of interior drainage/pump systems near Port Monmouth’s two major creeks are also in place. Already completed is the replenishment of the beach-front area and fishing pier near the historic Bayshore Waterfront Park. Additionally, concrete groins have been constructed to run perpendicular to the beach and extend into the bay. A series of levees, flood walls and pumping stations have been built as well. The bill also created a cost-share partnership among the state of New Jersey, its coastal municipalities and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to engage in shore protection projects, including beach restoration and maintenance. The legislation is the work of the Monmouth County-based group Jersey Shore Partnership (JSP). At their March 18 meeting, the Middletown Township Committee expressed its support for increasing the cap with a resolution citing the need to fund necessary projects following the devastation of Super Storm Sandy. “We have to do all we can to ensure the protection of our residents and their in- vestments,” Perry said. “We can’t allow taxpayer dollars to go toward restoring the shore and raising homes, and then ignore a long-term plan to protect those investments,” he said. “Over the past 20 years the state has seen its fair share of impactful storms, and Middletown has beared the brunt of the last two, in Sandy and Irene,” said Middletown Mayor Tony Perry. “We’re going on seven years since Sandy and the government and taxpayers have made large investments, not only to protect our homes, but to prevent the erosion of our beaches. Now is an appropriate time to protect those investments.” Shore protection measures are also critical for transportation, as seen in the wake of Super Storm Sandy when massive damage was done to state routes 36, 35 and 34. Jersey Shore Partnership is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that advocates for stable funding for coastal protection efforts, as well as beach replenishment initiatives. Aid For Projects Both Big and Small Stewart Farrell, director of the Coastal Research Center at Stockton University, said the fund-sharing partnership goes beyond smaller beach-filling and replenishment projects. It also helps fund large-scale endeavors like the $115 million flood control project underway in Middletown’s Port Monmouth section, which is now in its second phase. Completion is expected in 2022.