Families will be packing New Jersey’s state parks all summer, perhaps more than ever now that they’re off for the rest of the season.
While that’s good news for some looking for things to do, a few towns along the Jersey Shore say the announcement will be a nightmare for them.
gov. Murphy’s post-pandemic gift to state residents will be a challenge for residents and officials in cities adjacent to places like Island Beach State Park.
“Everything along the barrier coast… parking is always expensive and traffic is always busy in the summer. So yeah, this will definitely make it worse,” said John Camera, business administrator for Berkeley Township.
“People can’t go into the park and have to turn around, and then they park on the side streets and it’s hard to get into your house,” says local resident Joan Tully. “On a busy weekend it’s hard to get into your own driveway.”
Seaside Park Mayor John Peterson said on a busy and hot summer’s day traffic could be blocked for miles once the park has reached its capacity – which could be as early as 9am.
“It has an adverse effect and can affect safety,” Peterson said. “Unfortunately, it could have a dramatic impact on our staff volunteering in the emergency room and firefighters to get vehicles there if there is an emergency. It’s a serious situation.”
The mayor said a planned meeting with the state over the winter has not taken place, so Seaside Park is asking for help in the form of human resources such as lifeguards and special police. Meanwhile, South Seaside Park has asked the state for permission to use two vacant lots just outside Island Beach State Park to get more vehicles off the street.
The state’s Ministry of Environmental Protection said it was aware of the problem. But in the meantime, cities are bracing for major crowds over the July 4 weekend.
“We don’t want to discourage extra people on our beach or in our businesses, but we want to be able to manage it as best we can, and we think parking would help tremendously,” said Camera.