Belmar Beach 'Open For Business'
Mayor and other elected officials kick off summer season
Belmar beaches are officially open for business.
Mayor Matt Doherty and several U.S., state and county officials on Wednesday gathered at the Fifth Avenue boardwalk behind Taylor Pavilion to give their blessing to the 2012 summer season.
The mayor was joined by U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., State Assemblyman David Rible, county Freeholders John P. Curley, Tom Arnone, Serena DiMaso and Gary Rich, Gov. Chris Christie's executive director of state travel and tourism Grace Hanlon, NJ Transit's senior marketing director Janet Clark, Lake Como Mayor Mike Ryan, and Francis Hines, the borough's First Aid captain and deputy director of the Office of Emergency Management.
Each official, with two banner planes advertising the opening of the season flying overhead, took a turn at the podium touting Belmar beaches and the Jersey Shore as an integral piece of the state's economy.
Council President Claire Deicke and Councilwoman Jennifer Nicolay were also in attendance.
"Belmar is sort of the epitome of what's great about the Jersey Shore," Pallone said. "Belmar is open for business."
Pallone, credited by Doherty as being instrumental to acquiring funds for beach replenishment in Belmar, said he was working at the federal level to restore grants that have recently been cut.
Hanlon, who was there on behalf of the governor, said the state had 12 million more visitors last summer than the previous year — a 14 percent increase.
The state's summer tourist season is an $82 billion industry, she said.
Curley, director of the county freeholders, said Belmar's great reputation "puts a smile on peoples faces" anywhere in the state.
"The governor said to 'get the hell off the beach,' but I say 'get the heck back on the beach,'" Curley said.
Arnone said the county was going to "turn things around" at the shore this year and help make Monmouth County the state's top tourist destination if it's not already.
"We're going to amp it up," Arnone said.
Hines, a 27-year employee of the borough, touted Belmar's efforts to get the boardwalk repaired in time for this summer after last year's devastating hurricane that destroyed several portions of the beachfront.
The borough's Department of Public Works repaired the boardwalk with $1.2 miilion less than if the town had gone with a private contractor, according to a release accompanying the event. The total cost was $3.9 million.
Doherty highlighted several other improvements to the borough's beaches for this season.
The improvements include:
- Increased police coverage with 25 new special officers
- 1.3 mile boardwalk replacement with splinter-free Trex material -- a composite made of wood and plastic fibers that also makes it easier to clean
- Free beach access for all of the county's First Aid and Fire Department volunteers as well as all active-duty service members and their dependents
- New and improved cleaning routines for all public bathrooms, including bathroom attendants, a new odor-control system, electric flush-o-meters that will save water and money
- A new ADA ramp and playground equipment installed at Tenth Avenue
- A shaded gazebo-like structure at Eighth Avenue
- Several other improvements to the downtown area and marina