Toms River officials are considering a number of measures to combat sizable gatherings of youth at one township Wawa store that has neighbors concerned.
Elected officials are consulting with the police department – and Wawa – about the convenient store’s location on Route 35 in Chadwick Beach, the only Wawa store on Ocean County’s norther barrier island. Councilwoman Maria Maruca said concerns were raised by a number of residents at a recent meeting at a community center, where they reported large gatherings outside the store at odd hours.
“They have a security guard there, but it’s really not working out,” said Maruca. “Sometimes they’ll get 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60 kids there, especially if it gets out online.”
Currently, a security guard is employed at the Wawa store, but the township does not consider their presence to be effective. Officials are considering enacting a curfew for juveniles or taking any number of additional steps to limit the breadth of gatherings.
“We’d like an off-duty Toms River police officer there who has a radio, has the capacity to arrest and things of that nature,” Maruca said.
Off-duty officers acting as security personnel would be paid by Wawa, not taxpayers.
Another solution under consideration is locking the adjacent park at night.
“We’re seeing what we can do, and we’re definitely exploring all of the possible solutions,” Maruca said.