Cove Crack-Down and Brigantine Beach Bomb Scare

Party at the COVE in Brigantine

The infamous Brigantine Cove. Just across the inlet from Atlantic City. Why so popular? It’s a drive-on beach if you possess a permit. It’s great for those who bring a s-load of gear to the beach. But what really makes the Cove beach so popular, is lax enforcement of the ‘no public drinking’ law.

For years, former Brigantine Mayor Phil Guenther looked the other way. Better to turned a blind eye to rampant drinking and safety issues, rather than face the wrath of local voters, insiders say.

Watch awesome Cove video by Real Estate agent, Gary Paul:

Cove Video: Gary Paul.

Excessive drinking, public urination and defecation. Going on for years. Guenther and Sera accused of lax enforcement of law. Fear of angering local voters.

Cove beach in Brigantine. A popular, albeit infamous beach destination. 4×4’s three deep along the shore. Red cups. Noise, fights, public alcohol use, underage drinking. trash.

On July 6, things got worse. A bomb threat was made, written on a piece of paper and left at a tag checker stand. Seems that somebody wasn’t happy about getting shut out of the already packed beach. After a few hundred trucks….officials have to shut down access. Too bad for those who get their too late.

On Saturday July 6th, the City received a letter stating there was a bomb somewhere on the cove beach. Brigantine Police and the US Coast Guard responded immediately to clear the area. The Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office, NJ State Police, and Hamilton Township Police all responded to assist our police in search the beaches. Once it was determined that there was no real threat, the beaches were reopened.

According to Brigantine Mayor Andy Simpson, the city will soon reach out to coast guard, marine police and other safety orgs to plan a course of action.

Close to 6000 4×4 vehicle permits were issued this summer. Too bad only 375 can fit on the beach. Brigantine City Council didn’t see that as a problem…..with $700,000 in revenue pouring in each summer.

Much like former Brigantine Mayor, Phil Guenther, Councilman Vince Sera has ducked most questions and complaints about beach drinking over the years.

brigantine Simpson, Sera & Guenther
Simpson Fixing Problems Created by Sera & Guenther

Mayor Simpson talked about the Cove beach issue on WOND radio on Friday morning, July 12. Simpson reports that he’ll discuss the problem with the police chief.

Mayor Simpson considering DWI checkpoints for those coming off the Brigantine beach.

According to the Press of Atlantic City: “(The police) don’t like seeing it,” said Steve Fuhlbrick, 33, of Gloucester City, at The Cove Monday afternoon. “It’s always been kind of unwritten rule. If it’s in a cup, they don’t bother you.”

Brigantine Police wrote over 300 tickets- everything from drinking, to littering, to parking violations.

Anne Phillips of the Brigantine Taxpayers Association has been beating this drum for years. Phillips was a vocal member of the Brigantine Beach Committee when she occupied a council seat in the 90’s. Guenther eventually forced Phillips out. Guenther did not want to enforce existing beach ordinances that prohibit alcohol use on the beach.

Harassment of News Reporters. A few years back, a wedding reception was held on the cove beach, complete with open bar and free-flowing alcohol. Guenther claimed ignorance. Had no idea it was going on. After pictures were posted on social media, guests of the wedding decided to harass and threaten members of the media, including BrigantineNOW. Some even left a threatening note at the home of a BrigantineNOW writer. Mayor Guenther and Councilman Sera had no comment on the ordeal.

Mayor Simpson increased police presence on the beach during holiday weekends. Multiple fights. Broken glass. Fish hooks. Easy access to the treacherous inlet jetty.

MB: There are too many permits issued. We are a vacation town but people that only come down to use the Cove are not bringing extra revenue to the businesses on the island. I am all for taking care of our Vets but Brigantine residents that are Vets should be the only ones getting a free beach pass.

CB: Just make the permits $500 and give no freebies. And ABSOLUTELY sell to residents first. If we want to posit that we are in some way extraordinary because we have the only drive on beach, and that our island is special, then we should be selling permits at a price that attracts the right clientele.

KH: It’s a shame we used to go for years and stopped last year – it’s has gotten out of control – used to be great place for families – you could let older kids hang out and not worry abt them – everyone got to know everyone but then the 18-25 out of state started showing up – it’s out of control – leave trash , the drinking and fights – you don’t want to bring your kids there anymore – it’s a shame

MI: 5800 permits sold x $200 a permit = $1,160,000. The city can make all the statements they want. They can try and bullshit the residents to make it seem like they care. In the end, they don’t give a shit. That’s $1 million a year of extra cash flow on top of taxes. For a city that can only afford garbage pick up once a week. DRAIN THE SWAMP. Gotta pay those pensions …sad

JM: July 4th was unbearable with the amount of kids (18-25 year old) heavily drinking and acting out . These kids mostly were walkers, and had no vehicles there. I highly doubt they went and bought beach passes for the day. On holidays it can get ugly. I’d hate to see the few, ruin it for the majority.

AN: We have been saying for years, limit the amount of permits. Also, at dusk police need to be patrolling the beach checking for permits as well, especially on July 4th. It’s disgusting how people are destroying the atmosphere there EVERY weekend. I will not renew my permit for next year if things don’t get better!

Non-complaint financial oversight, defecation in the dunes, over-flowing porta-pots, open fire bbq’s, hundreds of free and deeply discounted 4×4 tags and underage-drinking, lead to increased overcrowding at these 4×4 beaches, especially at the Cove and the Jetty.

According to a Brigantine Beachcomber story, there was an increase in incidents involving police response and threats to public safety on our Brigantine Beaches. Some have pointed to decisions made by former Mayor Phil Guenther and councilman Vince Sera that attracted hundreds of non-residents that enjoyed free access to beaches where alcohol was common, especially among those who are underage.

Although easy to implement, Sera is not a proponent of allowing online purchases of tags & permits, which would let part-time residents purchase tags using early bird discounts.

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1 thought on “Cove Crack-Down and Brigantine Beach Bomb Scare”

  1. Glad to be outta there

    In 1969, we sat in our Brigantine living room and watched as our astronauts reached the heavens for the first time. Fifty years later, after witnessing much deterioration in civility and manners, we are seeing hell. That’s what forced us out.
    We enjoyed our shore home then. But over those many years, Brigantine has become an oasis of coarseness, rudeness, and selfish behavior. There is no respect for the “other guy;” whether you’re a year-round resident, a renter, or just a day-tripper, you can do or have anything you want. Brigantine has encouraged an atmosphere of “anything goes” that has polluted its culture over many decades. What used to be a coveted destination community has become a land of gangsters, where taking whatever “I” want is OK, regardless of who gets hurt or inconvenienced in the process. We watched as our community slowly deteriorated over the 1970’s, 1980’s and into the 1990’s. When neighbors moved away, the new arrivals were far from an upgrade. When the new people got fed up and left, the ones that followed were even worse.
    The shore became a burden for us because the community we knew and loved was gone, the beaches were jammed, the ubiquitous 4X4 crowds made legal beach driving impossible, and now we read about the over-the-top destruction of what’s left. Everyone is subsidized, and everything is “free.” Brigantine, formerly a pristine crown jewel with a matchless beach, is a disgrace. The local government that facilitated its destruction is to blame. Shame on you.

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