BELMAR — Council President Tom Brennan painted a bleak picture of the beachfront Tuesday evening to residents and members of the council, saying that some people “were abrasive.”
Mr. Brennan, who is a member of the borough’s Friendship Force that advises beachgoers on social distancing, said during the borough council meeting on July 21 that he has observed behavior this weekend that worried him.
While every year there are certain beachgoers who act like “jerks,” this year is “10 times worse,” the council president said.
“Our staff is being yelled at, they are being bullied, they are being threatened,” he said. “We had bathroom attendants spat on because they asked people to wear masks as it is posted on the side of the bathroom. Instead of complying, these people spat on our attendants.”
Referencing an incident that happened Sunday, he said that some visitors “bum-rushed through some of the gates.”
“People were abusive. They bum-rushed an 80-year-old gate attendant knowing that person would not be able to stop them, and we had to get the police in to get them off the beach,” Mr. Brennan said. “This is unacceptable, we need to do something about it.”
In a Sunday statement on social media following two days of sold-out daily badges this past weekend, Mr. Brennan called for changes that include online badge sales and enforcement of face-mask-wearing rules. He said that he had heard from Belmar residents who voiced concerns about beach and boardwalk staffing, enforcement and behavior by visitors.
Referring to out-of-town beachgoers, he said. “Belmar is beautiful, especially in the summer. But if they choose to visit, they must respect our rules and our residents.”
The council president also is calling for better compliance with face mask requirements by beachfront staff, more police patrols on the beach and boardwalk and better communication overall between borough and residents.
Beachgoers can text BELMAR to 44622 to receive messages when the borough sells out of beach badges or how close they are to selling out of beach badges.
“We are still not reaching a significant portion of the people,” Mr. Brennan said, adding that information about beach closings due to capacity must be pushed out faster through social media and by use of a “code red” phone list for staff.
He also said the borough “must accelerate” a much-discussed “transition to online sales for all beach badges” in time to take effect during the current summer season. Other municipalities, such as Bradley Beach, already made such a transition, using the VIPLY app.
Beachfront staff, including gate attendants, badge sellers, special officers, lifeguards, have been going “above and beyond,” he said. “However, wearing of face coverings by staff has been inconsistent. We cannot allow this to continue. All beachfront employees should be masking up.”
After-hours on the boardwalk is another area of concern for the council president. As beach visitors stay later at the beach and the boardwalk, more supervision is needed, he said.
“Reports of rowdy, inappropriate behavior need to be quickly addressed,” Mr. Brennan said. While the borough’s beach patrol has extended its hours to provide more coverage on busy days, “police patrols should do more of the same.”
On Friday, July 17, the borough had announced that it will be limiting the sale of daily beach badges to 7,500. The total number of badges sold will fluctuate depending on the number of season badge holders and space on the beachfront. Those 16 years of age younger are also able to get onto the beach for free.
BADGE SALES BY THE NUMBERS
If the borough’s beachfront seems busier than in previous years, that is because the borough has sold more daily and seasonal beach badges when compared to this same point last year.
The last beach report, which was filed on July 19, showed that the borough had sold 19,600 seasonal badges. In 2019, the borough sold a total 13,661 seasonal badges.
More than 50,000 more beach badges have been sold this year compared to this same point last year. As of July 12, the borough sold 222,294 daily beach badges, compared to the 156,656 the borough had sold through July 21, 2019.
Senior badges are down from last year, with the borough selling 4,481 so far this year compared to 5,990 at a similar point last year.
When it comes to revenue, the borough has so far made $3,622,256 from the sale of beach badges and locker rentals. With seven weekends, including Labor Day weekend, still on the horizon, the borough appears poised to eclipse last year’s beach revenues, which were $3,683,035.