NJ Legislature passes bill to upgrade Jersey Shore Boadwalks
The Boardwalks at the Jersey Shore are a major attraction for vacationers who visit South Jersey every year and the New Jersey Senate has passed new legislation that supports local communities by making a major financial commitment to improving infrastructure.
Thanks to the nearly unanimous vote in the State Senate and Assembly for Bill S3989/A5675, the state of New Jersey will be establishing a "Boardwalk Preservation Fund". This new fund appropriates $100 million to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs for the purpose of repair, construction, and maintenance of the coastal communities' boardwalks along with the connected structures to those boardwalks. This bill utilizes money from the American Rescue Plan COVID State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for the primary and initial supply of the Boardwalk Preservation Fund.
New Jersey State Senator Michael Testa, who represents Cape May and Cumberland Counties along with part of Atlantic County, is one of the Primary Sponsors of this legislation and gave the following statement after the bill passed to establish this new fund:
“Boardwalks are an economic driver for shore town communities and generate millions of dollars in revenue for the state. The Senate’s approval of my bi-partisan legislation supports coastal counties and municipalities by making a historic investment to improve the infrastructure of these iconic tourist attractions - Millions of tourists flock to the Jersey Shore each year to enjoy our boardwalks and our beautiful beaches. This bill would provide grants to help cities and counties preserve and maintain these vital features of the Jersey Shore for generations to come.”
Under the prerequisites of this new legislation, the Boardwalk Preservation Fund will award grants to Municipalities and/or Counties that have a boardwalk-related project to which that town and/or county has committed at least five percent of their own money to the project's cost. It should be noted that any applicants whose contribution or expenditure is greater than five percent to any boardwalk project will be given preference by the Department of Community Affairs in their decisions as to whom and how much grant money is distributed among the Jersey Shore communities.
This Boardwalk Preservation Fund is an important form of financial aid to Jersey Shore coastal communities, especially in Cape May and Atlantic Counties, because the maintenance and upkeep of the Boardwalks are of vital importance to communities whose economies depend on Summer Vacationers and Local Visitors to their towns. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, many Jersey Shore communities used some of the Federal Relief funds for upgrades to the boardwalks. But a decade later, municipalities such as Sea Isle City, Ocean City, and the Wildwoods want to continue making upgrades to their popular boardwalks and promenades without having to raise local property taxes. Money from government funds like this new Boardwalk Preservation Fund goes a long way in ensuring New Jersey Coastal Communities don't have to pass along the financial burden to their year-round residents for the cost of these Boardwalk Projects.
New Jersey State Senator Michael Testa was vocal in his statements after this legislation was passed that he understands the importance of supporting the local businesses at the Jersey Shore that depend on the upkeep of the boardwalks in their municipalities:
“Awarding grants through the Boardwalk Preservation Fund is necessary to support the long-term economic success of the New Jersey Shore and preserve the historical significance of these structures - This bill would bolster vital coastal infrastructure and provide a significant return on investment for the state by improving our tourist appeal and opening additional opportunities to generate revenue.”