Ocean City, N.J. approves curfew

July 9, 2009 8:07:33 PM PDT
Ocean City officials are happy to see crowded beaches... But they've voted unanimously to reinstate a curfew forcing people off the beaches each night at 10 p.m. "It's not that we have major issues on the beach." said Jim Rutala, Ocean City administrator. " But people can't get hurt, people can be encouraged to be on the beach at night to go swimming when it's just not safe."

Ocean City, like most shore towns, had a curfew until two years ago. That's when a storm on Mother's Day caused significant beach erosion.

As a condition of getting $6 million from the state to replenish the beaches, the city had to guarantee public beach access 24-7. While Avalon fought that requirement, Ocean City rescinded its curfew.

"The courts have since overruled that, and said basically that the state overstepped its bounds," Rutala added.

Prior to the vote Thursday night, news of the curfew plan in Ocean City, for everyone no matter how old, didn't go over well with young beach-goers, who say walking the beach at night is part of what they like about being down at the shore.

"The beach is fun at night, because it's dark and everything looks really pretty out," said Eric Fath of Quakertown, Pa. "You can walk and have a good time with your friends without too many people."

Victoria Mingrino, of Washington Township, N.J., added, "Ten o'clock's a little early, maybe twelve? I always come on the beach with my friends and there's a ton of people walking on her all the time. And it's really nice when the stars are out."

Parents, however, seem in favor of the curfew.

"I think having a curfew is a good idea," said Mark Schwertfeger of Collegeville, Pa. "It's just my personal opinion, for safety reasons, mostly."

Now that the curfew is approved, it will go into effect in 20 days. By the end of the month, everyone will have to stay off of Ocean City beaches after 10 p.m.

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