BELMAR — Belmar will not join several other shore communities in extending it’s summer bathing season past Labor Day Weekend, due to a lack of staff and “minimal” lifeguard coverage, an official said Tuesday night.
Business Administrator Ed Kirschenbaum Sr. said that the borough cannot continue to operate its beachfront past the unofficial end of summer.
“We do not have staff available after Labor Day to properly take care of the beach,” Mr. Kirschenbaum told members of the council and the public during the borough council meeting on Sept. 1.
While shore municipalities usually cease beachfront operations — lifeguard services, gate attendants and badge sellers — some towns have opted to extend their seasons farther into September. Due to the impact COVID-19 has had on normal life, from schools starting later for students to adults working from home, some municipalities expect larger than usual beach crowds as summer nears an end.
“The lifeguards have a minimal staff that they are going to keep down there to try to watch the water so it’s going to be a challenge and we know people don’t have anywhere to go,” Mayor Mark Walsifer said. “With the nice days in September, they come down [Interstate] 195 and they are coming to the Belmar beach, we have seen it all summer long.”
Mr. Kirschenbaum said that beachgoers past Labor Day is to be expected, so the borough will continue to have a police presence on the beach. The Department of Public Works will continue to maintain the beachfront. Restrooms will also remain open and cleaned.
While there will be some lifeguards presence to ensure beachgoers are safe, the borough did not have enough gate attendants or badge sellers to fully maintain it’s summertime operations.
“If we had the staffing to open up the beach, it was discussed we would charge for the weekend after Labor Day and the following weekend but we do not have the staff,” the borough administrator said.
“It’s a tough decision, we are trying to do the best we can with unprecedented times but we are working through it and we are talking with the other towns in trying to make sure everyone is safe,” he added.
Council President Tom Brennan asked if it would be possible to continue the summer season with limited staff, with a couple of gate attendants and booths selling badges.
Mr. Kirschenbaum responded by saying that if the borough charged for the beach, they would need to ensure that they have the ability to provide the same level of service they usually have over the summer, which is not possible.
“If we charge and we don’t have enough lifeguards, people can wander the beaches that are unprotected,” he said. “If we are charging people, the services have to be there.”
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