HAMILTON TOWNSHIP - Betty Dixon has been waiting for months for her beach home to open.
The township opened Cove Beach on Park Road Friday and the regulars were out the first morning.
Dixon, sitting in her chair facing east, said she plans to spend much of the summer on the beach.
"This is my summer home," the Mays landing resident said. "This is where I hide."
The township closed the beach in 2009 due to budget cuts but has reopened it the past few years on a limited schedule because the township has been able to pay for the costs by selling beach tags to the 600-foot-wide waterfront, said Township Administrator Mike Jacobs
The townshp breaks even with the badge sales, he said.
Badge checker Donna Giardina said there is a good base of residents who enjoy using the beach every day and wish it could be open all week.
"If we can get people to buy badges we can be open more days," she said.
Mays Landing resident Diana Genzone said she doesn't mind paying the tags because it keeps the beach open. If she went to a shore town she would probably have to pay a fee anyway, she said.
The cove is attractive for local residents because it's close to the township, and has many amenities that are scarce at shore towns like parking, bathrooms, a playground, picnic tables and barbecue grills.
Committeewoman Aline Dix called the Cove the jewel of the township.
"We are very happy to re-open the Cove for swimming & picnics for 2012," she said. "The Cove is a place of fun and relaxation for many."
Mays Landing resident Howard Buchanan said he also prefers Lake Lenape to the ocean because there are no waves or strong currents. There's also the convenience.
"I don't have to walk down a hundred yards to get to the beach," he said. "I'm not that healthy."
His son Hunter, 4, said he liked Lake Lenape better anyway because "the water isn't salty."
The cove beats out shore destinations for township resident Marianne Venezia.
"Gas is expensive," she said. "I'd be doing the same thing (there) that I'm doing now only there's a huge crowd."
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