Just over a week after Toms River officials enacted a curfew in its North Beach neighborhoods following weeks of increased vandalism, littering, noise complaints and a lack of social distancing, Lavallette officials decided to implement one as well after the trouble moved one town south.
The Lavallette borough council on Monday night put into place a curfew of those under age 18 from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., except those accompanied by an adult or returning home from work. The curfew order will be enacted under the existing state of emergency to counter the coronavirus pandemic. It comes after parents have apparently been dropping their children, mainly teenagers, off in town which culminated in large gatherings and several incidents over the past weekend.
“Last night there was a pretty substantial incident at the basketball courts – police arrived,” said Mayor Walter LaCicero. “There was trouble, there were fights, and a kid who was 16-years-old hopped in the car and almost ran over a police officer.”
The Toms River order was in response to groups of teens, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, gathering in the Chadwick Beach area, mainly near the Wawa store and adjacent park. Residents reported vandalism, littering, noise and, in some cases, harassment and threats. Residents of Chadwick Island said more than 30 garbage cans were knocked over this weekend, despite the curfew order being in place. But the bulk of the issues have apparently moved to Lavallette. Toms River’s curfew is in effect from the township’s border with Brick in the Normandy Beach section to the Lavallette border. Ortley Beach is not included. Lavallette’s new order, which goes into effect immediately and lasts through Sept. 7, covers the entire borough.
“The parents are still dumping their kids off to have a good time,” said LaCicero. “They just moved.”
Lavallette Councilwoman Joanne Filippone said much of the recent trouble has been on the bayside near the bay beach, basketball courts and gazebo, but there have been incidents involving underage drinking at the beach as well.
“There have been problems with not social distancing or wearing masks, so there is definitely a health impact to it,” said Filippone, who opined that “national events” are having an affect on youth who believe they can do whatever the want without consequences.
The most recent weekend saw borough property damaged, said Councilman Robert Lamb.
“There was some damage to the gazebo,” he said. “Reese Avenue was the worst.”
“We talked it over with the police department and the recommendation was that we mirror [the Toms River curfew] here,” said LaCicero.