Pallone Lauds Coast Guard Decision to Reopen Access to Popular Sandy Hook Beach

Mar 8, 2004

Long Branch, NJ --- U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today lauded the U.S. Coast Guard's decision to permanently remove a fence that it installed along a popular Sandy Hook beach that cut off access for fishermen, surfers, runners and others who enjoy the area known as 'The Rip.' Last Friday, the Coast Guard informed Pallone that it was still exploring several security alternatives, but that the agency would no longer explore security options that would prevent public access to the Rip.

"I appreciate the Coast Guard's prompt action in removing the fence and signs, and concluding that fisherman should still have access to this popular beach," Pallone said. "At a time when beachfront resources continue to dwindle, we must do everything possible to provide access to prime locations like The Rip."

Last month, the Coast Guard constructed a chain-link fence at the edge of its property line that ran across the Sandy Hook beach and into the Raritan Bay. Shortly thereafter, Pallone received several calls from constituents who were upset that the fence was cutting off access to nearly a mile of beach west of the fence.

In separate letters to the Coast Guard and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sent last month, the New Jersey congressman stressed the importance of keeping this popular area accessible. He also questioned whether the construction of the fence violated DEP's Land Use Policy. Days later, DEP concluded that the fence was erected illegally and that in order to comply with DEP's regulations the Coast Guard would need to apply for a permit. Last Tuesday, the Coast Guard began tearing down the fence.

Pallone, joined by representatives from the offices of U.S. Sens. Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg, is scheduled to meet with Coast Guard officials and leaders of several fishing organizations this Friday to discuss future alternatives.