By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – After viewing a video posted on Facebook showing dog-loving beachgoers illegally parked along Ocean Drive and on the shoulder lanes of the Ocean City-Longport bridge, Egg Harbor Township Police announced it would be strictly enforcing city ordinances prohibiting parking in the area.
Police will be issuing summonses to vehicles parked in the ‘No Parking’ zones on Ocean Drive, citing EHT Ordinance 213-3 and 213-14 and Cape May County Resolution 414-20. Violators will face fines up to $200 and stand the chance their vehicle will be towed at a minimum cost of $135, plus storage fees of $20 per day.
According to police, illegally parked vehicles are causing safety issues that endanger the motoring public and pedestrians. Not only are vehicles being parked along the narrow lanes coming off the bridge, members of the public are ignoring police attempts to correct the parking problem and walking with their dogs in the roadway.
Police have put out extra signage and cones, but it has had no effect on eliminating the problem, they said.
Police posted a visual warning on the department’s Facebook page Tuesday, July 21 and Police Chief Michael A. Steinman shared a letter he wrote to a concerned citizen on Wednesday morning.
The beach has become increasingly popular with pet-loving beach-goers, which is detrimental to the goal of preserving the area for wildlife.
“Simply put, the more people and dogs that are present, the more damage to the physical area and disruption to the protected wildlife there is,” Steinman said.
The EHT Police have jurisdiction over traffic safety in the area, which attracts more visitors than the area can accommodate. The parking lot across Ocean Drive also serves the Fishing Pier next to the bridge.
“The illegal parking creates a considerable safety issue for traffic and pedestrians who have parked at a distance and are walking to the WMA or fishing pier. The hazard is too great for this police department to ignore,” he said.
The department is working cooperatively with all governing agencies, but if balance cannot be restored, the area could be completely closed to the public.
“We do not want this to occur,” he said.
Police have walked the beach to discuss the parking problem with beachgoers, to no avail.
“The beach-goers openly told the officers to go ahead an issue the summonses since the fine was so low (approximately $50). Since this fine has not been effective in deterring the prohibited and dangerous activity, the fine will be raised to $200 or more this week. Officers are also authorized to tow vehicles, at the owner’s expense, that are parked in prohibited areas,” he advised.
Dog Beach, which is actually the Malibu Beach Wildlife Management Area, is owned by the State of New Jersey. The Department of Environmental Protection Fish and Wildlife Division manages the area to protect endangered dune nesting bird species.
The beach lies in a section of Egg Harbor Township between Somers Point and Longport at the foot of the Ocean City-Longport Bridge, which is managed by the Cape May County Bridge Commission. The city of Ocean City collects trash generated by beachgoers.
The state recently closed the beach due to the furlough of state employees responsible for patrolling the area.
“Although there have been several and serious conversations regarding the closure of Malibu Beach to all people and dogs, the State DEP and Egg Harbor Twp. recognize its value as a place for people to come and enjoy nature, with or without their dogs. We have made a serious, cooperative attempt at keeping a balance between the primary purpose of environmental/wildlife preservation while allowing for the enjoyment of that nature by the public,” Steinman wrote.
Mediawize, LLC 2020