SPRING LAKE — Nonresidents complained to borough officials after they had learned that Spring Lake completely sold out on its limited number of seasonal beach badges for the 2021 summer season.
At Tuesday night’s borough council reorganization meeting, several out-of-town residents phoned into the public portion of the meeting concerned that the borough did not notify nonresidents that the badges went on sale on Dec. 2, which they do annually so they can be purchased as holiday gifts.
Seasonal beach-only badges were limited to 5,500 [not including badges included with purchasing a locker and pool access at one of the pavilions] and sold out on Dec. 22. Typically, there is no limit on the number of seasonal badges the borough sells. However, due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic entering the summer season, the borough decided to set the number of 2021 seasonal badges at the same cap it had during last year.
One woman, calling from Little Silver, said she thought the borough’s handling of badge sales was “discriminatory” against nonresidents because nonresidents were not properly notified when seasonal badges will go on sale. She said she had been going to the beach in Spring Lake for years, and there is some “community outrage” among those nonresidents who were not able to purchase a seasonal badge.
The mayor said that the borough council had announced that badges would be going on sale at the Dec. 1 council meeting, that the badges could be purchased on the borough’s website and that it was published in The Coast Star. The mayor also said the information was distributed to all on the borough’s e-newsletter.
“The only change this year from years past is that we sold this year the same number as we did last year. And those amounts are slightly lower than what we typically sell because we are not sure what our beach season is going to look like in 2021,” she said. “We’re playing it safe and we’re trying to be sure that we sell a responsible number of badges so that if we have to restrict the number of people on the beaches, that we can do that safely.”
Sarah Lynch, of Wall Township, also called in to voice her displeasure with the badge sales.
“I am also concerned with the way the beach badge sales were handled this year. I am a person who’s come to your beautiful beaches for the last 20 years and most recently the last 10 with my three children … I also heard through the grapevine that badges had been sold out after-the-fact,” Ms. Lynch said.
She said she was told by the borough that her only recourse would be to get a “sponsor,” which must be from a Spring Lake resident, and purchase a $1,500 locker, which comes with five seasonal beach badges.
Ms. Lynch and others questioned why they weren’t notified through the borough’s Community Pass program. Others questioned why it wasn’t more prevalent on social media.
Councilman David Frost said that he believes the badge selling process was “fair.”
“About three weeks went by while they were on sale. They didn’t sell out overnight like the Spring Lake Five Run or anything like that. We didn’t do anything under the cover of darkness. We advertised everywhere the mayor said we did.”
Councilman Robert Drasheff admitted that he himself didn’t get a badge, saying he “didn’t get them quickly enough.”
New York resident Amanda Humphries, who identified herself as an attorney, said she believes that the cap on seasonal badges still “seems discriminatory in effect.”
Council President Brendan Judge, who chairs the beach committee, reiterated that it was a safety precaution, saying “My thing is, the only thing that we can control on a day-to-day basis is daily badges. Once the seasonal badges are sold, we cannot control the number of people on the beach.”
The next borough council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.
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