Pathways head over the dunes and down to the beaches.


Culminating eight years of work, Sea Isle City officials on Tuesday approved a key document that lays out all of the public access points to the beaches, bay and other waterside locations in the resort town.

Known as the Municipal Public Access Plan, it includes a complete inventory of 130 locations on the island that give unhindered public access to the beaches and waterways, Mayor Leonard Desiderio said.

The access plan was given formal approval Tuesday by City Council and will now be incorporated into Sea Isle’s master plan. The master plan serves as a guidepost for the city’s planning, zoning, economic development, housing construction, transportation, parking and recreation.

Desiderio said during the Council meeting that Sea Isle is one of only 19 out of 231 eligible communities that have received approval for their public access plans from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

“Sea Isle started the process of developing the public access plan in 2015,” he said. “The state of New Jersey encourages municipalities to establish such a plan, as they regard public access to the state’s waters to be an important right of our citizens.”

Sea Isle’s marina is one of the public access points in the document.

Altogether, the 130 public access points in the plan include the beaches, bayside, the oceanfront Promenade, boat launches, parks, the marina and Townsends Inlet, according to a summary of the document provided by ACT Engineers Inc., Sea Isle’s environmental consultant.

For instance, a public access point could be part of the shoreline where people may surf or where beach tags are required.

The document “enables the city to better plan, implement, maintain, and improve public access for its residents and visitors,” ACT Engineers said in the summary.

The Municipal Public Access Plan works hand-in-hand with the NJDEP’s Coastal Area Facility Review Act, or CAFRA, which protects the shore’s fragile ecosystem by regulating the types of development and activities that are allowed there.

With the public access plan now in hand, Sea Isle will have to pay only $1,000 for a new CAFRA permit from the NJDEP. It would cost $30,000 for the permit if Sea Isle did not have the public access plan in place, Desiderio said.

Sea Isle’s new CAFRA permit allows the city to maintain its beaches.

In Sea Isle’s case, the town will use the CAFRA permit to maintain its beaches, dunes and oceanfront Promenade.

While private developers are required to obtain CAFRA permits for residential and commercial projects along the coast, all of New Jersey’s beach towns must have them, too.

Separate from Council’s approval of the public access plan, Desiderio announced Tuesday that the city will be going out to bid in October for construction of handicap-accessible ramps to the Promenade at 51st and 53rd streets.

The gently sloping ramps would replace the steep steps that lead to the Promenade now. They would be much easier to use for senior citizens, people with disabilities and families with young children.

Sea Isle already has ramps that comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act at a number of locations on the Promenade. They include where the Promenade starts at 29th Street and ends at 57th Street. They can also be found at John F. Kennedy Boulevard, 44th Street, 49th Street and other locations.

The city is building the ramps to make the Promenade even more inviting to the pedestrians and bikers who enjoy its oceanfront location.

Sea Isle plans to replace these steps leading to the Promenade at 51st Street with a new ramp.