Point Pleasant Beach Bars Will Still Close At Midnight [POLL/AUDIO]
Last call will remain midnight for bars in Point Pleasant Beach.
The town council unexpectedly voted down an ordinance Tuesday that would have allowed them to stay open until 2 a.m. if they paid an extra fee to fund extra police officers.
The money would have been used to pay for additional police patrols of residential neighborhoods that have long complained about rowdy bar patrons carrying on as they walk back to their cars in the early-morning hours.
The borough and boardwalk bars tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a deal to help pay for added patrols to cut down on neighborhood disturbances. The bars had offered $800,000 over five years.
Marilou Halvorsen, a spokeswoman for Jenkinson's Boardwalk, said business and its two bars are relying on an appeal to the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control that seeks to block the midnight bar closing law from taking effect.
"This affects the waitresses, the bartenders, the families, the rides, a lot of people in town, not just the bar owners," said Halverson.
The midnight closing law was passed by the council last month, but at the time, it said it intended to give the bars a way out by charging an extra fee in return for staying open later.
Councilman Bret Gordon noted that there has been good and bad news when it comes to arrests in the tourist town this summer compared to last year.
"Memorial Day weekend we had a record number of arrests, 226 arrests, 180 borough ordinance violations, which is up from 144 in 2011."
The first weekend after the holiday, there was some good news.
"There were 40 borough ordinance violations for things like disorderly conduct, criminal mischief and resisting arrest and that is down from 62 the previous year," said Gordon.
As far as parking violations go, over the past weekend, they were also up from 1,000 in 2011 to nearly 1,100 this year.
But many residents defended the bars as essential not only to the borough's financial health but also to its reputation as an appealing tourist destination.
"It affects jobs, families, a lot of businesses, income from party-boats that come in to do fireworks, even the local ice cream shops will feel the ripple effect of the early closing," said one man.
"I don't understand how closing the bars earlier will stop the public urination and other problems that you say happen at 2 a.m...now they will take place at 11:30 p.m. instead," added another woman.
"People come as families where the parents want to go to the bars and the kids want to go on the rides and you have taken a lot of that out of the equation," said another resident.
But not everyone was unhappy with the decision.
"Its gotten out of control, it has gotten worse over the past 10 to 20 years and I think we had to draw a line and say enough is enough" said one resident, who's lived in Pt. Pleasant Beach for twenty years.
"We have gangs here, we have a lot more drug activity than we have had in the past...and I am scared to walk my dog around my neighborhood at night now because of the people that come here in the summer, something had to be done," said another woman.
"We welcome well-behaved tourists...and at some point you have to take a look at what is happening here and try to change it for the better," said Mayor Vincent Barella.
Point Pleasant Beach also finds itself fighting litigation aiming to block parking restrictions that go into effect on Friday.
They prohibit overnight parking on many residential streets near the boardwalk bars for anyone except residents.
"You can't park your car here, you can't go have a drink, people are going to go elsewhere," added another resident.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)