BELMAR, NJ — With Superstorm Sandy fading back in its rearview mirror, Belmar is looking ahead to a summer marked by the return of two iconic boardwalk landmarks lost in that epic storm five years ago.
While the Taylor Pavilion at Fifth Avenue opened earlier this month with a flurry of fanfare, the Rowland Pavilion at 10th Avenue is expected to be ready for operation several weeks after this upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
Both buildings are being welcomed warmly to the beachfront, bringing back facilities and services that have not had permanent homes since 2012. The 6,800-square-foot Taylor Pavilion houses Belmar’s beachfront operations, event and meeting space. The 2,700-square-foot Rowland Pavilion will serve as a public safety building, featuring a tower that will allow lifeguards and other first-responders to see the entire beachfront. In addition to serving as headquarters of its lifeguards, the building will be a substation for Police, First Aid and Water Rescue personnel.
Gone from Ocean Avenue are the food trucks, replaced on the boardwalk by the Cruz Bay Café, which recently opened in the new Taylor Pavilion and 10th Avenue Freezeout, which is located in the soon-to-open Rowland Pavilion.
What's New on Belmar's Beachfront
- Taylor Pavilion at Fifth Avenue, featuring event and meeting space
- Cruz Bay Cafe, located in Taylor Pavilion
- Rowland Pavilion, serving as the beachfront public safety building (opening soon)
- 10th Avenue Freezeout, located in the Rowland Pavilion (opening soon)
- Cell phone charging stations (second season)
- Free beach access for military veterans
On the west side of Ocean Avenue, there is a growing plenitude of dining spots — from full-service restaurants to eateries that put an unique twist on fast-food and healthy snacks — and stores that feature a wide variety of beach-related merchandise.
Beach Badge Sales Up
Traditionally a harbinger of a successful summer season, seasonal beach badge sales of nearly $246,000 as of this week are up about 7 percent over last year, with the borough hoping for good weather this holiday weekend.
As Belmar’s beachfront landscape continues to change, there is one thing that will remain the same: beach badge prices. As they have been for the past three summers, seasonal badges are priced at $55 and $15 for persons age 62 and older and those with disabilities. Daily beach badges are $8 for individuals age 16 and older. They can be purchased at Taylor Pavilion's beach office, located on its south side.
While Belmar is once again offering free beach access to active-duty military members and their dependents, the courtesy is now being extended to veterans as well. In addition, all individuals in law enforcement and first-responders are eligible for free beach access with proper identification upon entry.
Badges must be displayed on all Belmar beaches from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends beginning on Memorial Day and then every day beginning on Monday, June 19 through Monday, September 4.
From Free Playgrounds to Mobi-Mats
Belmar also offers several other popular beach amenities, including four playgrounds with free access — complete with swings, slides, seesaws and more. These areas are situated on the sand near the boardwalk at Fourth, Eighth, 12th and 16th avenues.
There also are eight beach entrances equipped with Mobi-Mats that provided easier beach access for persons in wheelchairs and walkers, and for those with mobility limitations, as well as for strollers and wagons.
Also located along the boardwalk are stations for cell phone charging and water bottle filling.
For Your Safety on the Beach and in the Borough
Belmar’s beaches are protected by a corps of highly trained lifeguards, credited with responding to hundreds of surf calls each summer. They are on duty between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on the weekdays, and between the 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on the weekends.
In anticipation of the influx of people on a daily and seasonal basis, Belmar has bolstered its full-time police force with 33 additional special police officers, many of whom will patrol on bike or on foot throughout the borough and neighboring Lake Como at all times — even into the early-morning hours when bar patrons and partygoers are returning home.
“We expect thousands of people to enjoy themselves when they come to Belmar,” Mayor Matthew Doherty said. “That’s why we have to ensure we have the police resources to deal with what may come our way — not only when managing large crowds, but when we have those few individuals who don’t behave properly.”