The Brigantine cove & jetty beaches were noticeably under-staffed during the 4th of July weekend. That’s what a report suggests from a group of local citizens. Trash, vile porta-potties, lack of Police patrols and public drinking were all too obvious last weekend. Might this be another painful ramification of service cutbacks by the city?
Here’s the open letter to the City of Brigantine, from Betsy Marroletti & friends. It’s passionate and thoughtful:
For several days I have been writing and re-writing this letter about what my family and friends experienced on Brigantine Beach over the 4th of July weekend. Everyone in our group elected me to address, in writing, our collective opinion of what was clearly a breakdown in service on so many levels. So, here I go.
“Brigantine Beach, New Jersey…an island you’ll love for life. Brigantine Beach is South Jersey’s best kept secret…- a beautiful, pristine hideaway for families seeking a safe, peaceful haven”.
These are not my words, but those used on the website for Brigantine, New Jersey. For more than thirty years, I’ve been singing similar praises of Brigantine Beach to my family, friends and anyone willing to listen. We frequent restaurants and other businesses all year long and purchase a four-wheel drive permit faithfully every year.
We value the privilege of access to the pristine beaches and days spent fishing, swimming, surfing, paddle boarding and socializing in what in the past has been a clean, safe, and peaceful environment. We cherish the memories we have made and continue to make year after year. Some of the best days and nights of our lives have been spent in each other’s company on Brigantine beaches.
What occurred over the July 4th weekend of 2013 was anything but peaceful, safe and enjoyable. It began on the 4th with the absence of someone at the beach entrance checking permits. Surprisingly, this practice had yet to be put into place this season but we felt confident that someone surely would be checking on the historically busy 4th. We immediately knew this was a bad omen.
As we turned on to the Inlet side of the Jetty we came upon a Porsche, buried in the sand. Unauthorized vehicles have become a common sight this year. In addition to the absence of the person checking for permits, there is a lack of police presence to ticket these felons. Unlike previous years, we did not see a single police vehicle patrolling the south end jetty beach the entire day.
The bathrooms were filthy and unusable by early afternoon. There should be additional facilities made available for busy holiday weekends or at the very least, more frequent cleanings to assure they are sanitary enough for use. It’s no secret what happens on the beach once the bathrooms become unusable. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this point.
We were unfortunate enough to share our day next to a group of underage kids who brazenly drank beer from cans and bottles and passed around a half-gallon of rum. Their behavior made it quite unbearable to relax and enjoy ourselves and again, there was nobody present to prevent this behavior.
I finally contacted the police department. This was at approximately 4pm so I asked the dispatcher where the police had been all day. He did not answer my question and instead asked where exactly these underage drinkers were. I told him “You can’t miss them! They’re the big group near the Jetty openly drinking from cans and bottles”. I was informed “We’re sending out patrols now”. As I was ending this call, another young man was walking toward the group with a 30 pack of beer. Again, this could have been prevented if someone were posted at the beach entrance.
What we observed upon our arrival on this same beach the next morning was shameful and heartbreaking. Abandoned, broken beach chairs, pop-up tents, Styrofoam coolers, plastic cups, beer cans, broken bottles, food, dirty diapers, plastic forks, knives, spoons, paper plates, etc. was strewn the entire length of the beach. The area where the kids were the day before was by far the worst. Although some of the trash was bagged, the seagulls had already begun to pull it apart. Since we always carry extra bags in our vehicle we immediately began collecting as much trash near our area and created a large pile.
I contacted the non-emergency number for the police department and asked who I could call about the excessive trash. I was given the number for Public Works where I promptly received a recording, so I left my name and number asking for a return call. When two hours had passed, and nobody returned my call or came to pick-up trash, we called again. We were told they would be there “soon”. When another two hours passed, we called again and my husband spoke with someone named John Doran. He told my husband that they were working their way down to us but that they had “only one truck for the entire beach”. How is this even possible?
The following morning, our friends sent us a text and photo showing that the trash we gathered, bagged and piled for pick-up was still there and of course, being picked apart by the gulls. They bagged what they could, loaded up their truck and drove it to the trash bins near the port-a-potties. When we arrived at the beach on the 7th of July and saw that the trash down closest to the jetty still remained we were beyond heartbroken. We were angry!
As of Thursday, 7/11/13, the City of Brigantine had sold 2,654 regular 4 x 4 permits at $175.00 each and 1,151 senior 4 x 4 permits at $85.00 resulting in $562,285.00 in total sales. I received these sales figures by completing a Request for Information form with the City so this is a fact, not fiction or an assumption.
How is it possible that a city can gross a half million dollars in revenue and blatantly disregard the care and concern for those very patrons who make that income possible? Why have the most basic necessities been eliminated or greatly reduced when clearly there is no lack of funding?
FREE beaches such as Wildwood and Atlantic City are able to not only provide clean, well-maintained bathroom facilities and showers but also manage to clean their beaches and remove trash. I can only imagine what they might offer if they had an additional half-million dollars at their disposal.
So, we are left to wonder where exactly is our hard-earned money being spent. Should we all stop buying permits since enforcement of their use is no longer monitored? Aside from the privilege of beach access, what should we expect the City to provide? What will be done to assure that we can continue to consider Brigantine Beach “an island we’ll love for life”?