More than eight out of ten New Jerseyans agree that when the government funds beach replenishment in shore towns that have limited beach access, they should be required to improve visitor access, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton Center for Public Interest poll made public Tuesday.
In all, 82.1 percent of adults support an improved access requirement, 10.6 percent oppose it, and 7.3 percent are unsure.
The poll was conducted earlier this month on behalf of the Jersey Shore Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
"It is clear that the people of New Jersey value their beach access and think it should be improved where necessary," Joe Woerner," the chapter's chairman-elect, said. "They value how their tax dollars are spent and they don't want them spent on private beaches."
The viewpoint is consistent with current state regulations that require towns receiving state funds to provide access or improve it if access is poor.
Woener said the poll results stand in stark contrast to the Christie administration's proposed rule changes that would allow towns with inaccessible beaches to receive taxpayer funded replenishment without improving beach access. According to Surfrider officials, the proposed rules would also allow towns to create their own public access plan without having to comply with the state Department of Environmental Protection's standards for access points, parking and basic amenities.
Opinion favoring increased access was especially strong among adults in families with children in the household, at 84 percent, and women, at 85.2 percent.
The poll is based on telephone interviews with 906 New Jersey adults and has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.. There is a larger margin of error for cross-tabulations.
The survey is part of the Jersey Shore Surfrider Foundation's campaign in cooperation with other environmental groups, to promote accessible beaches and waterways throughout the state, especially where public funds support their maintenance. The campaign will include delivering over 1,000 handwritten messages urging no changes in current access regulations to Gov. Chris Christie.
— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM