Lavallette’s summer season is likely to break records this year both in terms of beach badge sales and total visitors to the borough, however the labor crisis that has affected businesses large and small is still a challenge for the small resort town.
The good news is that revenue is set to exceed a record set just last year, according to Councilman David Finter. So far, the beach has generated $865,567, approaching $131,000 above where badge sales numbers were last year at the same time.
“Revenue-wise, it was the highest season that we had,” Finter said, referring to last year and the fact that Lavallette is poised to break records in 2021. “It was a busy weekend last weekend, and it’s going to be a very busy summer. It’s great for the town and great for the businesses after what they went through last year.”
Lavallette still has some challenges remaining. A labor shortage that has been affecting local businesses has made its way to the municipal government level. Usually, Mayor Walter LaCicero said, the borough hires 10 extra public works employees for the busy summer season. This year, so far, the town has only been able to find three people to fill the positions. There have also been issues hiring seasonal police officers and beach staff.
Managing the beach represents the most major challenge, as beachgoers are expected to arrive en masse now that social distancing and gathering restrictions have been lifted and the vast majority of people are venturing out following the coronavirus pandemic.
“With guards, we’re probably still looking for three to five guards,” said Finter. “Last year, we had the best turnout for trials we had in years. This year, it was better than some years in the past but nowhere near where we were last year.”
The lack of just a few guards will force beach officials to act creatively, spreading swimmers apart and spacing guards so they are close enough to respond quickly to all calls, but far enough so swimmers are not bunched up in front of just a few lifeguard stations. The borough is also planning to keep a dedicated lifeguard tent near the south end of town.
“Whether it’s Covid or not, people like to swim near the lifeguard stand and watch their kids,” said Finter. “The tent stand we put up on the south end definitely tends to help spread people out. The stand is there, it’s in place and we can work it with some creative scheduling. It’s under control right now, and hopefully we can get some additional guards out there.”