Jersey Shore town orders overnight beach, boardwalk closures to stop unruly crowds


The mayor of Avalon on Friday signed an order restricting access to its boardwalk and beach overnight, citing large unruly crowds that have troubled officials in other Jersey Shore communities.

The order is a continuation of the restrictions put in place during the state’s coronavirus-related state of emergency that blocks access to the beach daily from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., and closes the boardwalk between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., according to the Cape May County borough. The latest order, implemented due to the influx of young people congregating on the beach, will last “until further notice,” the borough said.

“The continuance of this order is to provide our local police department with the necessary authority to disperse large groups of individuals who are congregating in unmanageable numbers on public property which often results in unsafe and disruptive behavior,” Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi said in a statement.

Calling the order an “unfortunate measure,” the mayor said it was “a direct result” of directives from Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration that calls for authorities to issue warnings to youthful offenders and avoid jailing juveniles outside of serious crimes.

“This unfortunate measure is a direct result of Governor Murphy’s destruction of effective enforcement of laws pertaining to juveniles, and the elimination of certain police powers,” the mayor said.

“Accountability and education begins at home, and some parents need to take an active approach in managing the activities and whereabouts of their juveniles. If they refuse, more drastic measures will be considered that would impact everyone as a result of actions of a few inconsiderate people,” the mayor added.

Under the state directives, officers must issue “curbside warnings” to juveniles for violating town ordinances and disorderly persons offenses “where there is no breach of peace, even when alcohol or cannabis use or possession is involved,” Avalon Police Chief Jeffrey Christopher said.

“We remain hopeful that some parents become more involved and help us maintain the quality of life in our community despite the State’s new hands-off policies,” the chief said in a statement with the mayor.

State leaders have said the juvenile reforms were needed to end racial disparities among youth in the justice system and allow minors to lead productive lives.

“If we can turn a youth away from the juvenile justice system, we know they stand a much better chance of turning their life toward success in the long run,” state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said last year.

Representatives for Murphy and Grewal did not immediately return messages Friday evening.

Avalon is among several Shore communities where local officials said crowds – often of teenagers – have trashed property, harassed residents and started fights. Borough officials cited vandalism, excessive litter and debris caused by groups gathering at night.

Long Beach Island officials said at least 300 teenagers converged on the borough over the July 4 weekend, according to the Asbury Park Press. Beach Haven officials also reported large crowds and Long Branch called off its July 4th fireworks after hundreds of people showed up for what officials described as an out-of-control party on the beach.

Last month, Toms River police issued a curfew after growing complaints of unruly juveniles in the town’s North Beach section.

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