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Coast Guard wants park service to manage Sandy Hook property


Published in the Asbury Park Press 3/16/04
By KATHY MATHESON
STAFF WRITER
The Coast Guard is negotiating with the National Park Service to manage its beach property at Sandy Hook, according to officials at both agencies.

The deal is meant to ensure public access while allowing the Coast Guard to secure its facility there, Commander Tom Hickey said yesterday.

Coast Guard property typically is not open to the public, Hickey said, and the agency is not in the business of managing public access to the coastline.

But ensuring public access to natural resources is the prime duty of the National Park Service, which manages the neighboring Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook, he said.

"It just makes sense for them to manage it under their mission," Hickey said.

Monitoring the beachfront will not require any changes at the Park Service, which has provided law enforcement for the Coast Guard property for many years, said Richard E. Wells, acting superintendent of Gateway National Recreation Area.

"They're responsible for national security on the water," Wells said of the Coast Guard, "and we're responsible for the environment on the land."

The move comes after the Coast Guard erected a controversial fence along its beachfront last month. The fence, deemed illegal by the state, was put up as a security measure; however, it also cut off access to the beach and a prime fishing spot known as The Rip. It was dismantled earlier this month.

Coast Guard officials said the agency would not construct another fence because the dune line parallel to the shore will serve as a natural barrier between its station and the area visited by fishermen, according to a joint statement from Rep. Frank J. Pallone Jr. and Sens. Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg, all D-N.J., who sponsored a meeting on the subject last Friday.

The Coast Guard also announced Friday there will no longer be any closures of the beach area when the agency's firing range is in use, the statement said.

The Coast Guard is studying a proposal to extend the fishing area from a navigational aid known as the "bug light" up to the sand bar, opening an additional 150 yards to 300 yards of beach, according to Hickey.

Staff writer Sherry Figdore contributed to this story. Kathy Matheson: (732) 643-4230 or [email protected]
 

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its nice to see that some politicians still care about the people they represent its ashame that there is stuff like this going on all over the place without any real fight
 

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Steve,
Access to the Buglight is huge. It has always been offlimits, but not enforced until 9/11.

Jeff
 

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This is one of those rare instances where something good is coming from something bad. The CG erected the fence and left us all scratching our heads up here wondering what the hell they were thinking. Because of the immense pressure put together by us fishermans, and some help from some politicians we were able to get it removed. And now they are going to open up Bug Light again. Now I can leave my stealth gear at home cause I fished it anyway!

Now, I do not know Sen Corzine, but I know Congressman Pallone. My on going joke with him is that he's the only Demacrat I've ever voted for! Anyway Pallone is far and away the foremost leader in protecting our shorefronts. I was not surprised at all by his attention and follow through with this matter.

This is part of a lot of hard work and due dilagence by all.
 
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