OCEAN GROVE, N.J. — Hundreds of residents in Ocean Grove want to stop circling the block and want to start making beachgoers pay when tourists visit their shore town this summer.
“It gets really, really crowded,” said Joyce Klein, chair of the Ocean Grove Homeowners Association.
While she realizes summertime shore parking will never be spacious, she’d like spots reserved for some of the 700 to 800 residents there. The association has proposed residents-only permit parking for one side of the street; a visitors lot and parking meters near the beach.
“We would like to be able to have some some level of preferential parking so that we’re not literally prisoners here from Friday at about 4 o’clock until Monday morning,” she said, adding some residents get stuck parking as far as a half mile from home.
Not surprising, those near the beach don’t like the idea.
“No. Not to just get here and have some exercise, no,” said Laura Ehlers, who often drives in from Jackson, N.J., to Ocean Grove to walk the boardwalk.
Alongside her was Debbie Agro, of Howell, N.J.
“We’ll leave our car here and then walk, to avoid the parking fees,” Agro said.
Neighboring towns do charge for parking. But it’s not just beachgoers whom residents would like to pay. Klein said many who work in Asbury Park, or who attend festivals or concerts in neighboring towns, will park for free in Ocean Grove.
The issue of parking has come up before, according one long-time area resident, Skip George. He said he’s been coming to the beach in Ocean Grove since 1944.
“My father tried to institute a few of these things back in the 80's when he was the president of the Ocean Grove Homeowners Association,” George said.
He explained that his father was opposed to paid parking, and so is he.
"I would be extraordinarly surprised if paid parking in this area was instituted. I would not be surprised if it was instituted on Main [Street]," he said.
Currently, a parking committee is being formed by the town to study the issue.