Officials in Avon have decided to limit tents, tables and cooking devices on the beach, in response to the problems caused by an increase of visitors.
The new rules go into effect today (Aug. 27).
By a 3-0 vote at this week’s town hall meeting, the Board of Commisioners approved an ordinance which prohibits tents or canopies on the beach if they require more than one pole to hold them up. Serving trays, warming trays and burners of any kind will not be allowed. Tables, stands or boards which are set up to act as tables will no longer be permitted on the beach.
Mayor Robert Mahon said the commission was continuing to review possible limitations on coolers and the issue of parking.
“Ocean Avenue is a battle zone on weekends,” said Commissioner Robert P. McGovern. “People are fighting for parking spaces.”
For the second meeting in a row, a number of residents suggested that the borough institute paid parking and distribute permits to residents. Mahon said he continues to believe that metered parking would not provide an adequate solution to the the problem.
Commissioner Frank Gorman estimated that the cost of setting up paid parking spaces on Ocean Avenue alone could exceed $500,000. He said it is difficult for a small community such as Avon to receive a good return on the investment needed to establish a parking fee system. Gorman also said that unless all parking spaces in the borough were metered, a phenomenon known as “reverse creep” would shift the problem from one area to another as visitors would park in non-metered areas and walk the extra distance to the beach, only utilizing the metered zone as a last resort.
Garfield Avenue resident Brian Byrnes said he did not support paid parking but asked if beach fees could be raised to $12 on weekends to help offset the additional expenses needed for enforcement of regulations and cleanup. Mahon pointed out that in the past, the state public advocate decided that Avon’s beach fees were excessive. Gorman said that in 1988, the state and Avon agreed that the borough’s beach fee would be lowered from $8 a day to $2.50. Since that time, Gorman said, the beach has operated as a “zero-based” utility, with funds generated by beach admissions used only to operate the beach and not for other purposes.
Borough Clerk Timothy M. Gallagher reported that beach revenues are running $210,000 ahead of last year during the same period.
“This happens to be a banner year, but a lot depends on the weather,” the mayor said.
To illustrate that point, Gallagher said that on the most recent Sunday, beach attendance was 16,000 as opposed to 25,000 on the same Sunday a year ago, only because there was a forecast of rain.
Gorman, who is the borough’s commissioner of public affairs and public safety, said that on weekends, there are often more police calls pending than there are officers who available to respond to them immediately. He said that Avon experiences a high turnover of special police officers who are lured away by other towns which pay more. Gallagher said that Class 1 special officers in Avon receive $13 an hour and Class 2 special officers (who are authorized to carry weapons) are paid $16.50 an hour. Gorman said the special officers say they enjoy working in Avon and would like to stay, but find it hard to turn down the higher pay.
“This is a great town to work in as a police officer,” Gorman said.