By JoANN PILEGGI
It’s not only stores and restaurants using markdowns to attract scarce consumer dollars.
Trying to get a jump on the competition from private beach clubs and other municipalities while priming its revenue pump, Sea Bright officials last night unveiled what Councilwoman Dina Long called the town’s “beach stimulus package:” full-summer badges at half price.
The catch: you’ve got to pony up while the weather is still cold. Buy ’em by March 2, and you’ll save a bundle.
“Residents had approached the borough for discounts on beach badges and we decided it would be a way to give reduced rates for local residents and maybe even sell more badges,” says Long.
Jersey shore towns rely on revenues from fees to cover the costs of running the beach in summer paying for lifeguards and keeping the beaches clean.
Compared with fees for other beaches along the New Jersey coast, Sea Bright’s annual badge is on the higher end along with Spring Lake’s, which also costs $100, and Deal’s, the highest last year at $125.
Cape May, by contrast, charges just $25 for a summer badge. Seniors gets reduced fees and kids under 12 are still free.
Last year, according to the New Jersey Public Advocate, no town in the state reduced its beach fees, and all towns eliminated resident discounts. Sea Bright’s move may signal the start of a counter-trend.
“We’re cutting the price now, until the beginning of March, and maybe we’ll have more people on the beaches in the summer,” says Long, who chairs the council’s beach committee.
“We will also spruce up the beaches, the access areas, and clean up the grounds leading to the beaches, and repave or repaint the parking lot.”
Long says she’s not sure if a handicapped access ramp to the beach will be completed this summer, but the plans are in the works. There are also approved plans for a new lifeguard headquarters building.
And if the reduced fees still don’t entice “dry walleted” beach goers this coming summer, there are still seven free beaches in New Jersey three right in our backyard though they’re bay and river beaches: in Highlands, Keansburg and Middletown.