No Beach Buggies Allowed in 2014, Toms River Officials Say

Some are worried about loss of access lingering after Sandy, but officials say the ban is only temporary

A beach buggy entrance in Surf City. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
A beach buggy entrance in Surf City. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
While many people were understanding of a ban on beach buggies – the popular name for four wheel drive vehicles that allow fishermen to access the beachfront – in 2013, what appears to be a ban on vehicles in 2014 is raising eyebrows.

But township officials say the extension of the ban on vehicles is temporary and will be restored once an upcoming beach replenishment project is completed.

Local anglers have become sensitive to the issue after attempts over the years to limit access to beaches by preventing people from using their vehicles to transport their fishing equipment over the sand, say members of the New Jersey Beach Buggy Association.

Toms River has always supported vehicle access to beaches during the off-season, so any attempt to extend a ban enacted after Superstorm Sandy is a cause for concern, said Paul Harris, the president of the group.

"We’ve always had a pretty good relationship with [Toms River]," Harris said.

Township Councilwoman Maria Maruca said beach buggies would not be allowed on township beaches in 2014 since a beach replenishment project is set to begin during the summer.

"With the beach replenishment project coming in with a timeframe of June, this will not be the year to issue permits," she told her fellow council members at a meeting this week. "I would urge the council to particularly look at it next year at this time and make an educated decision."

Toms River issues its beach buggy permits in January, so accepting payments now – then telling beach buggy owners they can't use the beaches – wouldn't be fair, said Maruca. Though there are general timelines for the island-wide beach and dune replenishment project to begin, there's no specifics as to when Toms River's beaches will get their sand, she said.

In other locations where replenishment projects took place during this past summer, beach buggies were allowed in the fall. Surf City and Long Beach Township both allowed vehicles on their beaches this fall since the pumping of sand onto beaches was complete long before Labor Day.

"I was hoping we could negotiate with them through the summer, see what the beach looks like, and see how things look in the fall," said Harris, whose organization had offered to help the township with dune plantings and other projects in the wake of Sandy.

Maruca said Thursday that taking a look at the issue in the fall could be a possibility.

"I’m not averse to looking at it in the fall depending on what’s happening," she said, adding that no matter what, beach buggy access should be restored after the project is complete.

Harris said that not only does allowing vehicles on the beaches cause no damage to the sand, it can potentially help with sand quality once the replenishment is complete.

"It more or less helps it because it breaks up the hard-crusted sand," Harris said. "Just look at the sand quality of Island Beach State Park, right down the road."
Ortley December 13, 2013 at 07:13 AM
and how are these trucks (beach buggys) going to get on the beach ? Over the new dune,or even worse...through it?
grace December 13, 2013 at 08:34 AM
wow maruca seriously there goes hubbys christmas gift...is this for island beach too?
Daniel Nee (Editor) December 13, 2013 at 11:39 AM
Ortley - Beach buggy access will be the same as always by way of dune crossovers. In the improved beaches on LBI, there are no wooden crossovers as all of the crossovers are cut through the dune line. However the cuts are made with compacted sand and run on a sloped horizontal angle so there is anchored dune both in front of, and behind, the entire cut. It actually looks beautiful and provides access for both pedestrians and vehicles, as well as wheelchairs, to the beach while the angle prevents water flow and washovers during storms (it worked during Sandy). The engineered access points they constructed in LBI are one of those "simple, but ingenious" type things. I'm working to confirm with the Army Corps the type of access proposed for Ortley's beaches in the new plan.
Pat S. December 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Hopefully, if there is to be any beach buggy access, it will be designed by the Army Corps, not Toms River. The breach they left at Harding Avenue pre-Sandy was disasterous- although no one in TR will take responsibility for the lack of judgement in allowing this opening to exist. It isn't rocket science to understand what this breach contributed to Ortley's devastation.
Kimbo Sliceopizza December 13, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Ortley has a beach?
Daniel Nee (Editor) December 13, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Pat - From my understanding, access points are part of the design plans determined by the Army Corps. As I mentioned above, I'm working on a story dedicated to that specific topic since a lot of people seem to have an interest in it (access points, the future of the boardwalk, etc.).
bob December 16, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Maruca, your like a broken record. If you hate here that much, why don't you just move.


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