Petition Calls for Surfing Beyond the Flags in Harvey Cedars

Aug 09, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

A petition started by a Harvey Cedars homeowner wants the borough to take a cue from Surf City and approve surfing outside the flags on all beaches during guarded hours. The decision by Surf City last month came after a petition with nearly 1,000 signatures was delivered to Borough Hall.

Mike Kramer’s petition has more than 1,900 signatures and it gathered a lot of momentum by his sharing it on Facebook Monday. As of Tuesday, Borough Clerk Daina Dale said she had not received the petition.

“We request that Harvey Cedars remove the restriction and allow surfing outside of the designated swimming areas during guarded hours,” Kramer wrote. “We acknowledge that surfers would be surfing at their own risk.”

Kramer wrote that at this point, every mayor in every municipality on Long Beach Island besides Harvey Cedars “has listened to the advice of their senior lifeguard and decided that surfing outside the flags during guarded hours is perfectly fine.”

“To arrive at this decision, they (the mayors) analyzed 10 years of data and facts from Ship Bottom and other areas regarding ocean safety and liability issues and found that it simply has had no ill effects. I think we can all agree that if surfing outside the flags had any negative impact on these municipalities that the mayors would have had to ban it – and they haven’t. We are asking Mayor (Jonathan) Oldham to please speak with his LBI counterparts regarding this issue so he can inform the Harvey Cedars surfing community as to any issues he uncovers that would preclude him from removing this restriction in Harvey Cedars. We need to look to neighboring municipalities because that is where the data resides. Harvey Cedars has little or no empirical data on this. While our guards are probably the best on the island, they don’t have extensive first hand experience guarding beaches with outside the flag surfers.” 

Kramer said positive safety aspects include relieving “the crowded and therefore unsafe conditions” at Hudson Street, Harvey Cedars’ only surfing beach.

“In addition, it is well-documented that surfers frequently assist in water rescues in hazardous conditions,” he wrote. “Surfing is a healthy, multi-generational family activity and it is practiced on an increasing basis yearly. This is a great way to maximize the public’s use of the beach and surf zone and acknowledge over a century of wave-riding tradition on the New Jersey coast.”

Oldham said the issue has come up before and he doubts his stance would change.

“Not only do we allow surfing on Hudson Street, but also near the north and south edges of town,” the mayor said.

Randy Townsend, beach patrol captain, said having surfers next to swimmers can potentially create safety hazards.

“Twenty-five percent of our beaches are designated for surfing,” he said.   

Police Chief Robert Burnaford, a former borough lifeguard, added, “The lifeguards have a lot to do in watching the swimmers in the protected area. With surfers nearby, that could greatly broaden the scope of their work as they would have to watch beyond the swimming area.”

— Eric Englund

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