BRIGANTINE — The city is looking to reduce overcrowding and excessive drinking at The Cove with an updated ordinance, due to multiple instances this past summer.
The Cove, a stretch of beach on the southern end of the city where visitors can drive onto the sand and boaters can anchor just offshore, saw an excess of noise, litter, fights and drinking this past summer.
Two changes to the ordinance, which will be voted on at City Council’s Nov. 6 meeting, include allowing police and/or city officials to check coolers and closing/limiting access to the beach due to overcrowding.
The city may also have to increase parking permit fees to cover the planned addition of more officers to patrol the Cove, said Mayor Andy Simpson.
The first addition to the ordinance states that coolers larger than 24 inches in width, length or height or have a capacity greater than 36 quarts may be inspected by police or city officials.
“Quite honestly, it wasn’t that much of a problem,” Simpson said about the excessive drinking. “It was the Fourth of July. It was the walk-ons.”
He said it was mostly adults in their mid-20s “with 30 packs on their shoulders.”
“I’m not stupid, I know what’s in that solo cup,” he added.
When considering closing the beach — the second addition to the ordinance — Jim Bennett, Brigantine city manager, said he looks at the density factor and issues, if any, on the beach during a particular day.
“It’s the amount of trucks, the amount of people that are there and, of course, the number of issues that we may have at any given time,” he said. “When it gets to the point where police or beach patrol deem it unsafe or where it’s not easy for them to control or enforce, then they might make that call.”
He said for the 2020 summer season, the city is planning a “more robust program” to help eliminate issues at The Cove, but that it was “not quite ready to talk about it yet.”
The city is also looking to place more police officers at The Cove for daily patrol. In past years, two officers were designated to that area, it’s unclear how many will be added.
“I don’t expect (people) who never go to that beach have to pay for security down there,” he said. “Let the people who use it pay for the security.”
The city is also looking to add more lifeguards to the area and pay New Jersey State Police to have a patrol boat stationed in the water on the Fourth of July. Funds to pay for any overtime accrued by State Police and lifeguards for that location, about $180,000, will also come from increased 4x4 permit fees, Simpson said.
According to the city’s website, 4x4 permits cost $175 from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 and $200 after March 1. For the 2020 season, Simpson said fees will increase from $175 to $200 if purchased in January or February and from $200 to $300 if purchased after March 1.
The city sells about 6,000 vehicle-access permits a year with most of them being sold in June and July, Simpson said.
“We take in approximately $700,000 now, we hope to take in $900,000,” he said.
To help eliminate littering, the city also put a dumpster at The Cove instead of trash cans, which the mayor said were regularly overflowing.
“We want everybody to have fun,” Simpson said. “We want it to be a fun place, but you have to respect your neighbors and you have to respect the people who are paying the taxes up there.”