Northeast
A day at the beach in Wildwood Crest, N.J., Friday, July 15, 2016. (Lori M. Nichols | For NJ.com) SJN

This Jersey Shore beach is still free, but it might not stay that way

One of the remaining shore towns in New Jersey that has free beach access is discussing the possibility of implementing beach tags.

Wildwood Crest Mayor Don Cabrera told NJ Advance Media a move to collect beach tags — brought up at a recent commissioner’s meeting — would have many costs associated with running the program, including staffing, tags, and enforcement. Cabrera said it could also have a negative impact on tourism.

Wildwood Crest, along with Wildwood and North Wildwood and Atlantic City, do not charge to access the beaches.

“People come to the Wildwood Crest based on tradition, and part of the tradition has generally included the beach being free,” Cabrera said. “If you start changing traditions to some degree and taxing our number one amenity, people may look at that a little bit differently. I think there is some uniqueness to saying ‘hey you can come down enjoy the biggest and best beaches on the East Coast and they are free.”

Cabrera said that although he is currently leaning against having beach tags, if the residents of the shore town feel there is a need to have the tags to create revenue and bring forth a referendum to do so, he would consider it.

Currently, a tax imposed by the Greater Wildwood Tourism Improvement and Development Authority is collected and distributed to the Wildwood towns to help fund beach maintenance and other related costs.

“As an elected official, I do what my job is, and that is to do whatever the community comes forth with, take a look at it and if necessary put it on for a referendum vote,” the mayor said. “As an owner and taxpayer myself, whether I was in this seat or not, I think there are some things that you want to keep free, and I think that the beach is one of them. I think that when we all bought our houses here in the Crest, we knew that our tax dollars would go to offset and pay for the cost it takes to maintain the beaches. Why change it? When you change it, it could be a big risk.”

According to the Cape May County Herald, Wildwood Crest Commissioner Joyce Gould spoke in support of the idea for a beach tag fees to help with waste removal at the beach. Gould did not return a request for comment by NJ Advance Media.

Chris Franklin can be reached at cfranklin@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @cfranklinnews or on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips.

See PennLive.com article . . .