All N.J. veterans and active military could get free beach access soon. One town is back to allowing it.

By Chris Franklin,

New Jersey’s beaches could soon be free for veterans and active military under a bill being proposed in Trenton.

It’s already happening in one Jersey Shore town.

Belmar had permitted veterans to get on the beach for free, but the new borough administration found the beach access policy was in violation a state law.

The town had changed the policy to allow disabled veterans to access the beach for free. However, Belmar reversed the policy last weekend after reviewing the statute for a second time, allowing the veterans on the beach for free Saturday morning.

“After reviewing the statute and revisiting it, we found out that the veterans could be allowed to go on the beach free, and we are going to continue under that course,” Kirshebaum said. “It is not mandated, but the statute says we may do so. The mayor and council are very supportive of veterans and chose to go by the statue and allow them on with free access.”

The decision could make waves and soon have other towns across the state allowing veterans and active military free admission to beaches and other state parks.

A bill introduced in Trenton, A834, would change the current law which only gives free admission to New Jersey residents who are active members of the National Guard, disabled veterans or veterans who are 62 and older.

The proposal would expand on that and allow all New Jersey veterans and active military in any branch of the service, stationed in New Jersey or living in the state, free admission to state beaches, parks and forests.

The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Assembly Conference Leader Anthony M. Bucco (R-Morris) and Assemblymen R. Bruce Land and Matthew Milam (D-Cumberland). Bucco said the bill is a token of gratitude to veterans who served in the military.

“Our veterans and active military personnel have fought on beaches, in jungles, and in cities around the world to make sure that we can live free here at home,” Bucco said. “This is just a small token of gratitude that we can give our veterans and military personnel that risk their lives, some making the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. This is just a small way of saying thank you.”

According to Bucco, New Jersey has close to 8,000 active duty military personnel, 17,000 veterans, and more than 400,000 veterans. Currently, the state offers free admission to New Jersey residents who are active members of the National Guard, totally disabled, or 62 or more years of age.

The bill was passed unanimously in the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee (6-0), and waiting to be brought to the Assembly floor. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.