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Families of veterans could get free access to N.J. beaches under proposed legislation

The 35th Street Beach in Ocean City, New Jersey. (Bill Duhart/nj.com/TNS)
February 06, 2022

A bill under consideration in the state legislature would make it easier for spouses and children of military veterans to get free access to New Jersey beaches.

The measure, A1662, would permit Jersey Shore municipalities to provide free beach access, or reduced fees, for spouses and dependent children of U.S. military veterans.

Shore municipalities started charging for beach access through the sale of beach badges beginning with Bradley Beach in 1929. There are only a handful of beaches along the Jersey Shore that are still free.

“The families of those who served our country shouldn’t have to struggle with accessing the state’s beautiful beaches,” said Assemblyman John Catalano, R-Ocean, a sponsor of the bill along Greg McGuckin, R-Ocean, and Raj Mukherji, D-Hudson.

“These men and women have proudly served their country, often at great cost to themselves and their families,” McGuckin said in a statement. “This really is a courtesy thanking those who have given so much.”

New Jersey currently allows towns to provide free or reduced access to beaches for active military members and their families.

It’s an issue state Sen. Jim Holzapfel, R-Ocean, has been pushing since 2015, and versions of the bill have been introduced in every legislative session since. .Holzapfel sponsored the Senate’s version of the measure, S894, in the current session that began Jan. 11.

“We want to welcome our veterans who were willing to risk their lives for our freedoms to our award-winning beaches,” Holzapfel said in a statement.

Last session’s measure, A4870, was approved by the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee in November, but the full Assembly never voted on the bill before the two-year session ended.

The latest iteration was referred to committees in both houses.

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