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Week in NJ - May 26th, 2023


Governor Murphy and Senator Gopal Highlight Proposed Investment of $100 Million in Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Towards Boardwalk Fund

Governor Phil Murphy and Senator Vin Gopal visited the historic Asbury Park Boardwalk to highlight a $100 million proposal in the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget to support the launch of the new Boardwalk Fund program. The Boardwalk Fund is aimed at strengthening boardwalk infrastructure along the shore and will invest in the overall rehabilitation, resilience, and revitalization of these attractions, which serve as a boon for tourism and enhance the economies of our shore communities and the state as a whole. 

“When I imagine a summer in New Jersey, it’s hard to do so without thinking of our beautiful shore towns, especially our boardwalks, in which I can recall many fond memories with my loved ones,” said Governor Murphy. “The Boardwalk Fund will help us ensure that these wooden main streets, which are the backbones of their communities, remain a place for families to continue making memories at the Jersey shore for generations to come.”

“The varied personalities of Jersey Shore towns – and their boardwalks – are hallmarks of New Jersey, drawing millions of visitors who contribute to the energy and economy of these communities,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Y. Oliver. “By partnering with municipal and county governments through the Boardwalk Fund, we are investing in the future of our shore communities and ensuring they remain a vibrant destination for generations to come.”

The Governor, Senator Gopal, and Asbury Park Mayor John Moor visited three small businesses along the boardwalk to further solidify the importance of this program as we approach the busy summer tourist season. Those businesses were Tony’s-Asbury Park Boardwalk, Asbury Galleria, and The Break.

“As State Senator in a district that has a number of shore towns, I know the importance of a viable and safe boardwalk,” said Senator Vin Gopal. "As we look towards the summer, we know we will see residents coming from across the state to take advantage of the beach and boardwalk, and they will be sustaining and empowering the local businesses. I am excited to see more funding coming to our district through the Boardwalk Fund."


Murphy Administration Announces First-in-the-Nation Partnership to Bolster Mental Health Supports for College Students throughout New Jersey

As part of the Murphy Administration’s ongoing efforts to address the growing youth mental health crisis, Governor Phil Murphy and Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Brian Bridges announced a partnership with Uwill – a mental health and wellness platform that will support students at 44 institutions of higher education throughout New Jersey. Beginning this month, this first-in-the-nation partnership will provide 24/7 access to free virtual mental health services throughout the entire year for students enrolled in one of the eligible institutions that have opted into this program. 

While most institutions of higher education previously offered some level of mental health support to students, a rapidly growing need for these services has strained the capacity of many campuses to continue providing care to every student in need of mental health support in recent years. By partnering directly with Uwill, New Jersey is the first state in the nation to offer comprehensive tele-mental health services to college students through a statewide approach that spans both public and private institutions of higher education.

“With the challenges these past few years have presented, young people around New Jersey and the nation are facing a mental health crisis like never before. It is incumbent upon us to do everything in our power to provide young people with access to the support they need, which is something my Administration will continue to prioritize,” said Governor Murphy. “Making teletherapy services available to countless college students on campuses throughout our state is a key component of our ongoing efforts to address the mental health needs of our young people and promote safe and inclusive learning environments in New Jersey.”


Governor Murphy Announces Additional Investment of Over $5.5 Million for Statewide School Security Initiative

Building on last year’s investment in a statewide initiative to collect and digitize blueprints of K-12 school buildings throughout New Jersey to improve school security on behalf of students and staff, Governor Phil Murphy announced an additional investment of approximately $5.79 million in federal funds to further assist with critical incident mapping efforts.

Accurate and uniform maps help law enforcement swiftly and effectively respond to emergencies in unfamiliar environments. These efforts first began in New Jersey when Governor Murphy announced $6.5 million for critical incident mapping efforts in August 2022, and later signed legislation to require all public and non-public schools to submit their mapping data to local law enforcement agencies. Through that funding, the New Jersey State Police was able to contract with a vendor that has been working to collect the updated school maps and upload the electronic format of that information to a database.

“In the face of our country’s ongoing epidemic of gun violence, both in and out of schools, this information is unfortunately yet undeniably necessary to help ensure the safety of our students and educators,” said Governor Murphy. “This additional investment will advance our state’s ongoing efforts to map every school throughout New Jersey to equip law enforcement personnel with the information they need to rapidly respond in the event of a crisis in order to keep our children safe.”

“Our commitment to school safety remains unwavering,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “Thanks to Governor Murphy's leadership, we're taking another significant step forward in protecting our students and teachers. With critical incident mapping and data analysis, along with additional investments in school security initiatives, we strengthen our efforts to safeguard against emergencies. Together, we're dedicated to protecting our youth.”


Murphy Administration Advances Liberty State Park Revitalization Program at Open House

During an open house at Liberty State Park on Wednesday, May 24, Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette, joined by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Matthew W. Luzzatto, shared plans to advance a multi-phase revitalization program for the park, with an initial groundbreaking anticipated by early fall.

Building on two years of public engagement and extensive design engineering work , the revitalization program is a multiple phase effort led by the DEP to clean up, restore, and enhance natural resources; improve and expand access to open space; increase public recreation offerings through the addition of athletics facilities; bring public arts, cultural, and community spaces into the park; improve transportation to and within the park; and build greater resilience to flooding and climate  change through nature-based solutions.

The end result of this phased approach will be a Liberty State Park that features active recreational, arts and cultural development across more than 100 acres of its perimeter, and an open space and passive recreational central park at its heart that will provide flood resilience benefits to the surrounding developed features as well as to the host community. Detailed information about the revitalization phases is included on DEP’s Liberty State Park Revitalization Program microsite.

“Liberty State Park is a treasure that will always belong to the people of New Jersey,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Our Administration’s plan prioritizes protecting our precious public lands and revitalizes Liberty State Park through exciting new amenities for the community, including new ways to enjoy nature, play sports, engage in active and passive recreation, and experience arts and culture. The proposal will also improve transportation to and within the park and include long-term improvements to enhance flood and climate resiliency. I would like to thank Commissioner LaTourette and his team at the Department of Environmental Protection for engaging in a robust and thorough public engagement process that puts the needs of the community first.”


Murphy Administration Announces New Jersey State Parks are Ready for 2023 Summer Season

As summer approaches, the State Park Service is ready to kick off the season with lifeguards on duty during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend at Island Beach State Park, picnic areas ready for families and friends to gather, and electric vehicle charging stations available at several state parks and forests, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced this week. 

Island Beach State Park will be the first location to have lifeguards on duty for the holiday weekend, and each weekend throughout June before opening for daily hours on June 19. Staggered openings are planned throughout June for swimming areas at other state parks and forests. In addition, the State Park Service has increased the number of electric vehicles charging stations at its properties and continues hiring people for a variety of seasonal positions.

“New Jersey’s state parks and forests are an excellent choice for a few hours of relaxation, a day off or a vacation,” Commissioner LaTourette said. “It’s going to be a great summer and we look forward to being the public’s destination for swimming, picnicking, hiking or just quietly taking in the beauty of nature."

Governor Phil Murphy has proposed a second year of free entrance to state parks, forests and historic sites in the FY24 budget, which is under review by the New Jersey Legislature.