HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Citing a need to provide some normalcy for Hamilton Township residents, the Hamilton Township Committee voted unanimously at its meeting on Monday, May 18 to allow the Cove beach area to open for the season on June 20.
“There will be greater expenses this year due to the state regulations,” Township Administrator Arch Liston said. “We will need to upgrade the restrooms, have an employee stationed there and provide cleaning and sanitizing at least once an hour. We will also need to have a class one police officer on hand to monitor the situation.”
Liston stated that the facility would be limited to 250 people per day where previously full capacity was up to 450 guests.
That led to a discussion about the fees for beach badges and the cost to township taxpayers.
Last year, the cost of beach badges was $9 for a daily badge and $15 for a season pass. Children under 11 were free. After much discussion, the decision to offer daily badges, seasonal badges or both was postponed until the June 1 meeting.
Liston projected an expense of $99,000 for the season due to a $40,000 estimate of costs related to COVID-19 regulations, although it may be able to be pared down to $90,000. “Last year’s revenue was $31,000,” he said. “Normally the Cove operates at about a $20,000 loss.”
“Perhaps we can get some funding from our Clean Communities grant and from our recreation trust fund to offset the cost to our taxpayers,” Deputy Mayor Charles Cain said. “And perhaps some of the state restrictions will be lifted by the end of the season.”
“That is not likely as social distancing and capacity limits are likely to stay in effect,” Hamilton Township Police Chief Greg Ciambrone said.
“We might also look at adding a $2 parking fee which could gain about $8000,” Cain said.
“While I hate to see the taxpayers foot the bill for this I believe it will help to restore a sense of normalcy,” Mayor Art Schenker said. “This is an opportunity to do something useful. And perhaps township residents who never visited The Cove will do so instead of traveling to the shore areas that may be overcrowded.”
The township is expected to advertise for beach personnel to be interviewed, with successful candidates to be on the June 1 agenda.
The governing body also agreed to stage a scaled-down Memorial Day service in Memorial Park on Monday, May 25.
“We have a Memorial Day service every year, but this year is unique,” committeeman and veteran Rodney Guishard said.
Schenker suggested that he would lay a wreath in the park and recommended that a veteran or current service member provide a brief speech to be videoed and provided on the township website.