ASBURY PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There’s a gate debate in New Jersey over a barrier that stops pedestrians from walking to and from two communities late at night.

CBS2’s Meg Baker explains why some local lawmakers and residents want to turn the key on a decades-old idea.

Two footbridges over Wesley Lake connect Asbury Park and Ocean Grove in Neptune Township. A gate is locked from midnight until 5 a.m. every night, preventing anyone from entering Ocean Grove.

“I really wish we all could just get along. It’s an accessibility issue … for people living with paralysis, for example,” Ocean Grove resident Jennifer Schulman said.

Asbury Park councilwoman Eileen Chapman says blocking public access may be illegal.

“We see and hear so many concerns from residents on both sides of the lake that it’s difficult to get home after midnight. There’s many people who live in Ocean Grove who work in Asbury Park. Instead of just walking over these footbridges to get back to their homes, they’ve got to walk around an entire lake. Some people leave work with hundreds of dollars worth of tips in their hands,” she said.

Dani Fiori owns the Sweet Dani B cookie cafe in Asbury but lives in Ocean Grove. She bikes or walks over the footbridge, and she says she has attended multiple Neptune council meetings pushing to unlock the barrier.

“I actually don’t like the social message of it at all,” she said. “And also, as an adult, I don’t like having a curfew.”

The gates were installed in 1995 as a form of crime prevention. Chapman says Asbury was a much different city at the time.

“As you can see, you know, 20 years later, so much has changed, and we’re neighboring communities. We should be working together,” she said.

Some Ocean Grove residents say they want the gates to remain locked so people are not walking behind their homes late at night. Others say it helps combat the overflow of people who park for free in Ocean Grove and walk over to Asbury.

Only Neptune Township has the key to the gate. Asbury Park has requested a copy in case of an emergency, and officials have offered to install lighting and cameras to replace the locks.

CBS2 reached out to Neptune officials multiple times and has not heard back.

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