Some New Jersey Businesses Aren’t Complaining About Ocean Pollution
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Beach closings in recent weeks have hurt many boardwalk businesses, hotels and restaurants, but some business owners aren’t complaining.
Joe Santora, owner of Custom Pools in Belmar, said he ″took advantage of a sad thing″ by placing advertisements saying, ″Polluted waters taste bad. Our pools are drinkable as well as affordable.″
″I’ve found that some people are disgusted with the ocean and beaches,″ Santora said. ″For those people who like swimming and are fed up with the ocean’s pollution, they’re interested in pools.″
All the state’s beaches were open Wednesday following the reopening Tuesday of three beaches at Asbury Park and beaches at the Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook. But the impact of periodic beach closings over the last three weeks because of high bacteria counts and medical waste extend beyond the main affected areas in Monmouth County in central New Jersey. Beaches also have been closed periodically in New York state and north in New England.
At Swimland in Jackson Township, general manager Sam Dadas said he’s had several customers buy pools because of the beach pollution.
″But mostly they’re buying pools just because they want to stay at home,″ he said. ″People are now more home-oriented. They don’t want to drag their kids to the beach anymore.″
Some people are taking more drastic measures and leaving the state altogether.
″I’ve had a few people mention that they weren’t going to stay here because the beaches are really disgusting,″ said Donna Rubolino, manager of Uniglobe Express Travel in Toms River. ″They’re afraid of stepping on something. A lot of people are going to the Caribbean, where the water is blue and clean.″
Those who stay close to home are flocking to state and county parks.
Ocean County Park lifeguards have estimated daily crowds are up 30 percent. Cheesequake State Park in Old Bridge Township has reached capacity on most weekends so far this summer, something that usually happens only on holidays.
Frank Guidotti, assistant director of the state Division of Parks & Forestry, said good weather certainly has helped park attendance, but he added that many people might prefer swimming in lakes and reservoirs rather than ocean beaches.
Some casinos in Atlantic City are reporting a busier summer than normal, but they were hesitant to cite beach pollution as a reason.
″Most people that come to Atlantic City are gamers,″ said Maryann LoBianco, a spokeswoman at Tropicana Hotel and Casino. ″A beach closing or beach pollution won’t necessarily cause people to come to Atlantic City instead.″
Meanwhile, Monmouth County Prosecutor John Kaye said witnesses will be brought before a grand jury to look into possible criminal wrongdoing in the operation of the old Asbury Park sewage plant, which contributed to high bacteria counts that forced beaches in four communities to close last week. A new sewage plant opened Saturday to replace the old plant.