BELMAR, NJ — Belmar is looking to revamp its lifeguard staff for the upcoming season, starting at the top.

The borough council recently authorized the establishment of a selection committee to recruit “the best and brightest” lifeguards to stand over its 1.3-mile beachfront, focusing a new management team that will lead the new 70-member squad.

The decision to take the lifeguard operation in a new direction was based on a recommendation by Belmar Police Chief Andrew Huisman, who also serves as director of public safety — a role that encompasses overseeing the beach, which spans 21 street blocks and draws visitors totaling hundreds of thousands each summer.

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“We want the best working for us, and we want the best to be proud to be part of a professional and well-trained team that will be the envy of the Jersey Shore,” Huisman wrote in a letter recently sent to last season’s lifeguards. “We believe our rank-and-file lifeguards are the best working on the Jersey Shore.”

When reapplying for this year’s seasonal positions, these front-line lifeguards are being encouraged to let the selection committee know whether they want to be considered for a management position. In addition to Huisman, the committee includes Business Administrator Colleen Connolly and Council President Brian Magovern.

During the governing body’s February 6 meeting, councilman Mark Walsifer questioned why the search for the top managerial post was not being initiated before general recruitment. “Do we want to look at all positions? Normally you put a department head in place and they want to have say-so (regarding) the rest of the positions,” he said. “To put the entire team in place without input from the guy running it seems a bit excessive.”

According to Connolly, the committee’s goal is to open the application pipeline for all positions, and then concentrate on filling the top leadership positions. “The summer is coming quickly and we want to recruit for all these positions,” she said. “Our intent has always been to find a director and assistant director first because we want the team formed under the new leadership. But we want all resumes coming in as soon as possible.”

In the 4-1 tally, Mayor Matthew Doherty, Council President Magovern and council members Thomas Brennan and Jennifer Nicolay voted in favor of launching the recruitment effort, with Walsifer voting against it "because of the way the resolution is written."

Under the approved pay rates for the two top managerial positions, the lifeguard director position offers a salary range of $11,000 and $15,500 in-season and $13.50 to $15.50 per hour during the off-season; and the assistant supervisor post offers a salary range of $8,000 and $15,000 in-season and $13.50 to $15.50 per hour during the off-season.

In addition, lifeguards with at least three years of experience can apply for other leadership positions, including lieutenants, captains and training officers, with hourly rates ranging from $12.25 to $15.50 per hour.

Depending on years of experience, the hourly rate for lifeguards ranges from $10 to $15. Applicants must be at least 16 years old.

To be considered for any lifeguard position, an individual must hold current American Red Cross Lifeguard and First Aid/CPR/AED certifications, must pass the Belmar lifeguard swim test and be able to work in all types of weather.

A full list of requirements and application are available on the Belmar website by clicking here.

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