Beach Had Strong Summer Despite Lifeguard Shortage

Brick Beach 1 is quieting down after the busy summer. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

  BRICK – It was a very busy, yet uneventful season at the township beaches this summer, with only a handful of first aid and EMS calls, which were mostly for heat-related issues.

  A total of 9,906 daily badges were sold, up from 7,535 last year.

  9,388 season badges were sold, down from 10,104 last year.

  Director of Recreation Dan Santaniello said the high number of season badges sold last year can be explained because there was a rush on them because everyone thought that only a limited number would be available.

  “When you look at the daily beach sales this year, it evened out,” he said in the week following Labor Day.

  There was only one call for Brick Police this summer, and that involved disorderly conduct from an intoxicated out-of-towner.

  Brick lifeguards reported 16 saves, 257 assists, and 962 incidents of personal contact over the course of the summer.

  “Personal contact is any time the lifeguards actually have to go down and tell somebody to either move from an area, get out of a rip [current] – or anytime there’s communication between a guard and a patron,” Santaniello said.

  The lifeguard reports the personal contact via radio to a main desk where it is documented, he said.

  There were no standout or dramatic rescues this summer, but the rescues tended to be far offshore, necessitating the use of personal watercraft (such as a Jet Ski), Santaniello said.

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

  Brick lifeguards usually have three Jet Skis, but one went down this year so there are only two that are usable. “We got nine years with that one, so we’re going to have to buy one next year with our capital budget,” he said.

  The biggest challenge this year was finding enough lifeguards to staff the beaches, he said.

  “It was very, very hard,” Santaniello said. “It was the best beach season, but the most difficult scheduling season because we couldn’t get people out to work. It’s the first year we had part-time lifeguards where they would only work two days. I was nervous we’d have to close beaches down.”

  Usually the township has 72 full-time lifeguards, but because of the part-timers, there were 92 this year, he said. Sometimes lifeguards had to work seven days straight, but in order to do so, they had to be over 18, so that was tricky, too, he said.

  Long-time beach captain Donovan Brown was in charge of day-to-day operations this summer, with Brick Memorial High School teachers Robbie Brown and Angelina Graham serving as assistant beach captains.

  Santaniello estimates that the beaches are about 30 yards narrower this summer than last summer.

  “We didn’t get as much sand naturally returned as we usually do – the ocean definitely took some back,” he said. “I am concerned about going into the winter months because of nor’easters.”

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

  The areas of concern run from Brick Beach 3 down to 6th Avenue. The township engineer and the Department of Public Works is aware and they are planning to take preemptive steps to try and save as much of the beach and dunes as they can, he said.

  “They are going to do a small push up and down the area where we feel it’s really bad,” he said. “When I say a push, that means we go down to the water’s edge, and we scrape the sand and push it up top, and we leave that pile until the summer when we spread it out on the beach if it doesn’t get eaten up by a nor’easter.”

 He said the Army Corps of Engineers only allows the township to scrape a couple of inches for the push because “they don’t want you to gouge it out,” but it can be done repeatedly, Santaniello said.

  Brick Beach 1 is 150 yards wide, Brick Beach 2 is 100 yards wide, and Brick Beach 3 is 300 yards wide. There are also about five private beaches between Brick Beach 1 and 3, he said. Curtis Point is also a private Brick beach.

  Total revenue from the 2021 beach season is estimated to be around $485,000, which includes the sale of all badges and parking.