Beginning on Monday, June 17, badges are required along Belmar’s 1.3-mile beachfront from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Labor Day.

BELMAR, NJ — With three weekends in the books, Belmar beach badge sales are rolling in — at substantially higher levels than last year.

From Memorial Day weekend through June 9, the total number of beach badges sold nearly doubled — from 40,632, compared to 21,941 during the same period in 2018, according to the borough’s weekly beach report.

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This dramatic climb in numbers, coupled with across-the-board increases in badge prices this year, has resulted in a nearly 61 percent hike in revenue — from $631,651 to $1.016 million.

Ideal beach weather during the three-day Memorial Day weekend contributed to a healthy spike in the number of daily badges sold to date for the season — up from 8,072 in 2018 to 25,254 in 2019. Accounting for a daily badge fee increase from $8 to $9, revenues are up 252 percent, reaching $227,286 this year.

Despite a rise in price from $55 to $70, seasonal badge sales total 10,746 vs. 8,976 last year at this time, reflecting a 40 percent increase in revenue in this category — to $693,345.

The only category to experience a decline in sales is badges for seniors, who now must be 65 — not 62 — to qualify for the lower price of $30. While the tally fell from 4,893 in 2018 to 4,460 badges sold to date this year, revenues are up nearly 40 percent to $102,615, due to the doubling of the longtime price of $15.

Several major factors contributed to the hike in badge prices: Flat beach badge sales for the past two rain-dampened summers, increasing beachfront costs during that time and the need for better pay to attract more lifeguards and other beach employees, including gate attendants and cashiers.

The last time the borough council raised beach badge fees was in 2014 for the 2015 season, with the seasonal rate rising by $5 to $55 and the daily rate by $1 to $8. The senior rate remained at $15 at that time.

READ MORE: Belmar Boosts Beach Badge Prices, Nixes Plans for New Junior Badge

Free Beach Admission Stands for Those Serving Land of the Free

In other beach badge news, free beach access will continue for all military veterans and active-duty military members. When the borough approved its new beach badge fee structure in February, it also revised its free beach access requirements to allow only disabled veterans — based on a murky New Jersey law that stipulates who’s permitted on beaches without admission and avoiding any potential litigation for noncompliance with the law.

However, pushback from the community — and another look at interpreting that state statute —has led the borough to reverse course and allow all military members on its beaches for free. The only change from past years is that individuals in law enforcement and first-responders will no longer have free access, unless a change in state law is made.

There currently is a bill advancing in the state Legislature, A834,  that would allow all New Jersey veterans and active service members in any branch, stationed or living in New Jersey free admission — but only to state-owned beaches, parks and forests.  The legislation would not apply to municipal beaches.

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