A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

N.J. DEP needs to think, again

More often than not I side with the environmental groups because I want to breathe fresh air and keep out of harm’s way from the thousands of contaminants that find their way on our land and in our waterways. 

But here’s one time I do take a huge exception with the environmental advocates. New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection’s plan to increase public access makes no sense to me. (See story, 24/7 access plan has marina owners losing sleep, P. 50 in Soundings Trade Only.)

This agency, in its infinite wisdom, wants to force marinas to allow general public access to their properties at all times. And to further exacerbate the issue, any marina owner applying for a permit to do work on site would be required to provide the access in order to get the permit.

Who is taking whom hostage, here?

Let’s address the flaws inherent to this plan; the biggest of which is liability.
Marina owners require their paying customers to sign slip agreements that detail the rules and safety measures. And rightfully so.
But will the general public be required to do the same. I doubt it.
Let’s say John Doe gets hurt while walking on private property on his way to the water.
You can bet your bottom dollar, he will sue the marina.

Worse yet, what happens if someone flicks a lit cigarette, which accidentally causes a fire on marina property? (See Spencer Hondros’ comments on this on p. 51 in the magazine)
New Jersey’s finest at DEP should think three times about pursuing this proposal.

The Marine Trades Association of New Jersey has begun to fight. Keep up your valiant efforts to kill this proposal.

But even if the trade association wins this battle, the problem of water access still needs to be addressed.

Marina owners and DEP officials need to sit down at the table and come up with ways to address water access, a critical issue facing the marine industry.

It is possible to think bigger and smarter, and achieve a better long-term solution that is good for all vested interests. Otherwise, we return to the table again and again, continuing to adopt patchwork solutions that do little more than waste money, time and energy.

Lois Caliri
Soundings Trade Only


2 comments on “N.J. DEP needs to think, again

  1. Spike Haible

    It certainly sounds like the marina owners (and potential owners) are getting the short end of the stick here. Aside from liability issues there is that one of physical space–for parking, rest facilities etc.–that accompany that paved ramp into the water. With the price of waterfront these days you can’t just give a little of it away. Seems a little like the state is pawning its inability to purchase and create public access off on the private sector.

    Marina owners would be smart to help solve this problem for one reason–having public access near their marinas will provide a steady source of income, not only from fuel, food, and gear sales (assuming that they let the public come alongside for those things), but also from people who get tired of trailering and want “in” at the marina. They’ll launch their boat while looking longingly at the docks, showers, restaurant and marine store right next door. Every launch a future customer.

    Marinas should recognize that they already benefit from a contract with states or local agencies to acquire waterfront rights, mooring rights etc. So a public-private enterprise is already in place. Working on the public access problem together will benefit NJ and the marinas.

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