By DON STINE
Deal officials have dropped a controversial proposal to require permit parking on several oceanfront streets but will now seek to require beach badge fees to enter some of the nearby beaches.
The Board of Commissioners introduced a new ordinance on May 24 that will expand the borough’s public beach at the Conover Pavilion to include Monmouth Terrace and provide lifeguards. Surfing and fishing would be banned during regular beach hours but still be allowed at unguarded beaches that will not require a beach badge.
“People can still surf and fish at other areas,” Borough Administrator Stephen Carasia said this week.
The new beach area will be open from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. while hours at the Conover Pavilion beach will remain the same, or from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Beach badge fees would be the same as other borough beaches: $8 for a daily badge on weekdays, $10 on weekends, and $150 for a seasonal pass, effective Memorial Day through Labor Day.
A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for Friday, June 9 at 9 a.m.
“After the beaches were replenished in 2016, we experienced a large influx of visitors to access the Monmouth Terrace beach. In order to enhance the experience and safety for the beach goers and address beach maintenance, we have implemented beach access fees consistent with our own Conover Beach as well as neighboring communities to offset the added cost of lifeguards and extra beach cleaning services. Additionally, Deal beach passes will now allow visitors the ability to ‘flex’ between beach locations within the borough,” Mayor Sam Cohen said recently in a prepared statement.
Deal officials have made several attempts in the past to restrict access to its beaches in certain areas, including several proposals to require permit parking on certain streets near the oceanfront.
Surfers, fishermen and environmentalists have charged that these fees are only intended to prevent public access to the beaches.
An ordinance was introduced on April 5 that would have required permit parking on five streets (Monmouth Terrace, Monmouth Drive and Hathaway, Sydney and Neptune avenues- all east of Ocean Avenue) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for $100 for the summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day) or $50 per month during the same time period.
Beachfront homeowners donated $112,000 to pay for a new beach sweeper while the parking fees would pay for the labor to run the machine, its maintenance, and the tipping fees at the county landfill in Tinton Falls.
The ordinance was never adopted in the wake of public outcry.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer supervised a $40 million federally-funded project that recently pumped 1.4 million cubic yards of sand between Deal and Loch Arbour. And, because federal tax dollars were used, the borough must now meet certain beach access requirements. Opponents said any permit parking ordinance will violate the Public Trust Doctrine, which grants public access and use to the waterfront.