BERKELEY TOWNSHIP —  When former Gov. Chris Christie was seen lounging at the official governor's beach house during last year's government shutdown, it was the first time many taxpayers learned the house they were paying to maintain existed.

Now, the town that calls the house home wants the state to do something with it.

Earlier this summer the Berkeley Township Council passed a resolution calling for the state to sell or lease the house. The resolution states that by selling or leasing the house it would "bring money and ratables to the state," and also that the council believes it be a "better use of the property than its current use."

Council President James Byrne told JerseyShoreOnline after a recent meeting that he would like to see the house added to the township's tax rolls, as it is technically located in Berkeley.

A state government official told the Townsquare News Network that there are currently no plans to sell the beach house, and that any effort to sell the property would be more complicated than the Berkeley resolution makes it sound.

Gov. Phil Murphy does not live at Drumthwacket, the governor's official residence. A source in the Murphy Administration told that the governor has only used the beach house a few times.

State Senate President Steve Sweeney told the website he did not believe the state could sell the house because it was purchased through an estate or foundation, and that the $20,000 in tax money the township would receive from the property isn't enough to make the sale worthwhile.

Council President Byrne and Mayor Carmen Amato Jr. did not respond to messages seeking comment from New Jersey 101.5.

The cedar-shingled Cape Cod-style home was constructed by steel magnate Henry Phipps, a partner of Andrew Carnegie. Phipps had bought the park property in 1926 to turn it into an exclusive seashore resort. Only three large homes were built before the 1929 stock market crash halted construction. Phipps died the next year.

In 1953, the state bought the Phipps estate and additional land to preserve the island's natural beauty and create a recreation area. Island Beach opened as a state park in 1959.

Last year, a legislator proposed the state make the beach house available for the public to rent out.


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