Letter to the editor. At its meeting on 11/6/19, City Council amended and adopted the Ordinance relating to Municipal Beaches and Recreational Areas including The Cove, a public waterfront property adjacent to a residential zone. With these amendments Council has taken a positive step to strengthen legally its right to protect the public and public property. It’s also an acknowledgement by Council that problems which have existed and been tolerated for years need to be addressed and corrected now.
The Cove, one of New Jersey’s only 3 ocean beaches which allow vehicular parking up to the water’s edge, is a small area made smaller at high tide. These following problems were highlighted in the July 14, 2019 Press of Atlantic City front-page article: crowds, trash, many competing activities involving vehicles and watercraft of many types, swimming, games, etc., and the use of alcohol even though it is and has been prohibited on all of Brigantine’s beaches.
Such a mix provides an atmosphere susceptible to disorder, law breaking and public risk. City Council must act firmly to dispel such an atmosphere.
The other half of making laws is enforcing them. That involves attitude and a clear policy. Based on the following statements made in the 11/8/19 Brigantine Times, there seems to be a ‘hedging” by Council in its commitment.
“The new rules and regulations were passed so that if they are needed in the case of overcrowding or a situation involving public safety, they can be enforced at the discretion of City officials. If there is no pubic safety issue, everything will stay the same. No alcohol on the beach will be more strictly enforced. (What is “excessive drinking” when none is allowed?) There might be some minor changes at The Cove next summer but basically everything stays the same.
If public safety is put at risk, then the rules and regulations will take effect.”. The Mayor has stated that, “We are not looking to stop anybody from having fun.” Is lawlessness fun? City Council appears to feel it must justify enforcing its own rules for the public good on public property.
A consequence of no or random enforcement of the law is disrespect for the law and for those whose duty it is to enforce it. They deserve a clear, uniform policy of enforcement. Anything less is unfair to them and to the public.
Passing needed, sensible regulations and enforcing them uniformly allow this small piece of public land to be enjoyed in safety and cleanliness by those (a majority) who appreciate its unique value and respect its neighbors.
Sincerely, Anne H. Phillips