Party on! Ocean City, NJ boardwalk the ‘hottest nightclub’ for teens?
OCEAN CITY — As Long Branch and Point Pleasant Beach deal with pop-up parties that bring large groups, other Jersey Shore towns are coping with it on a nightly basis.
Ocean City Councilman Jody Levchuck took to his Facebook page to express his concerns about the reputation of Ocean City as a family resort being threatened because of the groups causing mischief on the boardwalk.
"The disconnect we have here is the juvenile reform that has enabled teens with a much easier way to use alcohol and other substances to help fuel their mischief. That mischief has led to some fights, rowdiness and lots of shoplifting activity on a recurring basis," Levchuck wrote.
During the City Council's June 9 meeting, Levchuck said that the 11th Street area of the boardwalk has become "the hottest nightclub of the Jersey Shore for teenagers" with large crowds of teens smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol.
"It's free to get in and you're not going to get kicked out most likely and if it gets busy there's plenty of width of beach to grow the party," Luvchuk said.
Levchuck lay some of the blame on parents who don't notice how their kids are dressed when they leave the house and the lack of consequences when their teen is arrested.
Are families afraid of Ocean City?
Residents during the meeting raised their concerns about the crowds on the boardwalk and the impact on tourism. Word of the rowdiness has already spread, long-time rental property owner Bart Bridgetty said during the public comment portion of the meeting.
"My wife is a hairdresser and you won't believe what the comments are all about. It was people actually being scared for these groups that are on the 11th Street boardwalk area. They were actually afraid to go up on the boardwalk with their kids. That's never ever happened," Bridgetty said.
Levchuck is concerned that people will become afraid of coming to the beach and called upon Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers to look at the impact of juvenile reform.
"Under the law, the mere presence of alcohol and marijuana is no longer considered probable cause and officers who violate the law can face severe discipline.
The result has given teens a sense of invulnerability about facing consequences for their behavior.
Ocean City's police chief told NBC 4 New York that he and his officers are developing new strategies for the situation.
A spokesman for Ocean City on Wednesday morning did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information.
Ready for whatever happens Saturday in Point Pleasant Beach
Resident complaints from residents of the barrier islands about unruly behavior during the Memorial Day weekend have led Toms River to bring back a curfew for those age 17 and under in North Beach and Ortley Beach. The curfew is in effect from 11 p.m. - 5 a.m.
“The goal and focus of this curfew is not to target children enjoying their time at the shore, but rather to address the destructive behavior we have experienced on both public and private property with large groups of juveniles. It is our responsibility to preserve the quality of life in our beach communities for everyone," Toms River Police Chief Mitch Little said in a statement.
Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra said his police department is on standby if people still try to attend unlawful pop-up parties. After filing a lawsuit against the organizers, they canceled the gatherings.
"While we believe we have blunted the majority of the momentum regarding this party there's still social media comments and posts that would lead us to believe some small numbers of potential party-goers may still be coming," Kanitra said. "We're still preparing for any scenario to make sure we're not caught off guard."