Beach Revenue Down Slightly Amid Backdrop of Replenishment

Beach replenishment offered challenges to the recreation department, such as a change in where the rip current usually is. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

BRICK – Beach revenues in Brick were down slightly this year over last year, a fact that the Director of Recreation Dan Santaniello attributes to the eight days Brick Beach 1 was closed for the beach replenishment project, which was completed here this summer.

The total income for the summer was $410,050, or about $9,000 less than last year’s total income of $419,082. These amounts include revenue from season badges, season parking, daily badges, daily parking and senior parking.

“I’m very happy with the sales, considering the days we had to close, and there was not one nice weekend in June,” he said from his office at the Civic Plaza. “I thought it would be lower.”

Brick beaches were open for the three weekends before opening seven days a week on June 15. The replenishment project at Brick Beach 3 was completed on those weekdays, so it was never closed to the public when lifeguards were on duty, he said.

“The beaches look beautiful. When Island Beach State Park is full to capacity – and last year when the state closed it – a lot of residents come to Brick beach, and it became their new beach,” Santaniello said.

Brick has a reputation for having “fantastic and alert” lifeguards and top-notch facilities, including bathrooms and concession stands, he said.

The beach replenishment project changed the previously predictable areas of rip currents, moving some of them as much as 100 yards south from where they had always formed.

“Spots became bad that had never been bad before, but our lifeguards go into the water every morning to check the currents and to check bad areas,” he said.

The lifeguards were busy this summer, racking up 22 rescues and responding to 58 calls for medical aid. They also administered oxygen four times and found two lost persons.

Township EMTs were called eight times for the more serious medical emergencies, and Brick Police were called to the beaches 16 times. There was one arrest for disorderly conduct, Santaniello said.

This was the last season for assistant Beach Captain Meredith Hudson, who after more than 20 years is leaving to become the assistant principal at Brick Memorial High School. She will be replaced next season by Tim Brennan, who is a teacher at Brick Memorial.

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

Preparation for the 2019 beach season begins in January, when Santaniello will meet with long-time Beach Captain Donovan Brown to plan out lifeguard staffing and more.

“It’s not like it used to be, where 40 people would apply for four lifeguard positions,” Santaniello said. “It’s more like 20 will apply for 15 positions. I don’t know why, maybe it’s too tough and kids want the summer off.”

Brick beaches closed after Labor Day weekend. They have been winterized with all the water lines put away, the lifeguard stands stored and bathrooms closed.

“We don’t want the bathrooms open because we don’t want to invite people to the beach when there are no lifeguards,” Santaniello said.

On the Friday of Labor Day weekend, a family went into the water in a nearby unguarded private beach, he recalled. A child got into trouble, then the mother went in after him and she got into trouble, and when the Brick lifeguards responded, four family members were struggling in the water.

“We just don’t have lifeguards available after Labor Day. We lost over 20 of our 70 guards before Labor Day because they went back to college, so to keep the beach properly staffed we have to pay overtime. Instead of lifeguards working 40 hours they’re working 48 or 56 hours,” he said.

Just a reminder – beaches are no longer lifeguarded. (Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn)

Add to that, high school lifeguards are not allowed to work overtime if they’re younger than 18, so there are even fewer available to work, he said.

Santaniello said he is worried about the upcoming hurricane season since the beaches have been replenished.

“We’re getting pummeled right now,” he said as Hurricane Florence approached earlier in the week, with Isaac and Helene not far behind.