It looks like Middletown residents will have their family-friendly beaches a second straight summer.
At a recent meeting, the Town Council did not make any decisions on the handling of the summer of 2021 at Second and Third beaches.
But based on the tenor of the discussions, there was momentum to gear both beaches to local residents – even if there’s slippage with revenues.
At the end of the discussion, Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown was asked to report back to the council, which would resolve the matter this month.
“We’re all rowing in the same direction and we all have the same desires,” council President Robert J. Sylvia said. “I think the most important desire is that this is a Middletown beach, we try to make it as Middletown friendly as possible. This is our residents’ beach. This isn’t a commercial beach. This isn’t Six Flags. This isn’t someplace like Coney Island, where we’re bringing people in, where we’re soliciting people to come in. This is a family beach and I think last year proved it out.”
Leading into tonight’s session, Brown and town staff met with the Beach Commission and other players to get input. They said feedback was positive and welcomed the idea of making Middletown’s beaches family friendly again.
Among the goals for the beaches in 2021 included:
•Prioritizing resident access.
•Making all of Third Beach “residents only” and half the Second Beach parking lot for residents.
•Having one traffic lane into the Second Beach main lot for “residents only,” with the other lane for all other transactions.
•Restoring the daily parking fee at $20 for weekdays and $30 for weekends and holidays.
•Promoting family nights and an end of season fireworks display to boost community spirit.
•Keeping seasonal passes at $70 for residents, $65 for seniors and $30 for motorcycles compared to $140 for nonresidents, $130 for nonresident seniors and $60 for nonresident motorcycles.
•Not having the second “free” sticker for residents to create more parking opportunities.
•Going “cashless” with all seasonal and daily parking sales.
•Selling seasonal parking passes online and at the gazebo at Hanging Rock and Sachuest Point roads.
•Continuing COVID19 distancing and safety protocols for safety.
Beach Commission Chairwoman Charlene A. Rose-Cirillo applauded keeping the beaches open for residents first. While she was in favor of some seasonal sticker cash sales, she was against restoring the daily parking rate.
“I am totally against daily sales this year,” RoseCirillo said. “We’re still in COVID. We did well last year. We were able to maintain the crowds, the parking, etc. and I just think if we open up the daily sales again this year, we’re going to go back into a hornets’ nest like we’ve had over the years.”
It’s not uncommon for the beaches to be the subject of local discussion, even when the temperatures are barely above freezing. The 2021 season is no different, especially with the changes brought on last summer in response to COVID-19.
Those moves were applauded by most property owners, who said they finally had their beaches back. They commended town officials for coming up with a plan that gives locals preference for parking and access to both beaches.