Fingers crossed; it looks like the Money Island NJ economy might have taken two baby steps forward this week:
I met with State Senator Van Drew on Thursday and he agreed to support my application to fill the vacant citizen’s position on the Governor’s aquaculture advisory task force that was formerly held by the late Bob Munson of Money Island and Downe Township. State Senator Jeff Van Drew is working on proposed legislation to help us develop the bay region’s aquaculture businesses. I have personally relayed stories about how difficult the state has made the process. I don’t know anything about the specifics of the bills but I am scheduled to meet with Van Drew on Thursday. (The proposed legislation is S3193 that Requires Dept. of Agriculture and DEP to work with US Army Corps of Engineers to establish joint permit application process for Aquaculture projects. S3194 Requires Dept. of Agriculture and DEP to adopt joint permit application and review program for Aquaculture projects. SJR95 Declares Aquaculture an important State economic driver and urges State to include Aquaculture industry in its economic development plans. SR144 Urges State to promote, cultivate, and support shellfish Aquaculture in NJ.)
Then yesterday Cumberland County Director Freeholder Joe Derella responded to my request for advice on Money Island’s two most pressing business problems: affordable worker housing and property taxes. Derella says that we can look forward to further discussions with key county officials that may lead to continued development of a sustainable aquaculture industry here.
The Money Island community is converting from its past based on a failed recreational marina to a sustainable future based on our native fisheries, aquaculture and eventually eco-tourism. We survived Sandy but the aftermath has left us almost a ghost town. Many former residents have not returned. Our tiny community supports the harvesters of most of the region’s $28 million oysters and local watermen add an additional $2 million in other seafood and bait fish. We are working from a long term strategic plan that coordinates with the Cumberland County Long Term Recovery Group’s plan.