ROXBURY, NJ – Faced with rising costs due to minimum-wage hikes, Roxbury might bump up the fees it charges for recreation programs, especially for out-of-towners.
Among the changes being weighed: Elimination of free beach passes for non-resident senior citizens.
The proposed new fee structure was presented this week to the Roxbury Mayor and Council by Township Manager John Shepherd. It represents recommendations from the township Recreation Department that were endorsed by the township Recreation Advisory Committee.
Many of the proposed fee increases are designed to make the township’s recreation programs and facilities more “self-sustaining,” said Recreation Department Director Brett Douglas in a memo.
“I have taken a very close look at dissecting all aspects of each program and facility within my purview,” he wrote. “As seen this year, there was a significant increase in wages paid out for seasonal employees compared to 2019, and the township's costs will continue to rise each year till the plateau of $15 per hour on Jan. 1, 2026.”
No More Free Beach for Out-of-Town Seniors
Among the proposed fee increases are those charged for use of Horseshoe Lake Beach. The family membership price for Roxbury residents would increase from the current $95 to $130 and the single adult fee, now $40, would go to $50.
Larger increases are proposed for non-residents. the new fee structure would see out-of-town families pay $260 per year to use the beach. They currently pay $185.
Non-resident single adults, who now pay $75, would be charged $100 and the fee for out-of-town children would go from $55 to 60.
The biggest proposed change relating to the beach would be the elimination of free use by non-resident senior citizens. While Roxbury seniors would still get in for nothing, out-of-town seniors would pay the regular non-resident adult fee.
“The goal for the beach is to make it more self-sustaining by increasing the costs of memberships for almost all of the members of the beach,” wrote Douglas. “N.J. minimum wage is a large cause for changes to the membership for the beach, to help balance the rising costs of day-to-day safety and the operations of the facility.”
Roxbury accepted state Green Acres funds for the Horseshoe Lake complex in the early 1990s. In doing so, it agreed it would “offer equal access” to non-residents, but it is allowed to charge them double the fee paid by residents, according to Douglas.
“With this change, we will no longer offer out of town seniors free memberships to the beach, and they will be charged the out of town adult rate,” Douglas said.
Similarly, non-residents who want to use the township dog park would be asked to pay $40. They now pay $30 while residents are assessed $20.
The proposal includes no price increases to residents for township fishing memberships. However, fees for out-of-towners will go up by $5 and the free fishing offered seniors would only apply to residents.
Pay to Play
“My philosophy concerning the provision of recreation facilities and programs is that the township provides for recreation facilities via general taxation while recreation programs are funded by, to the greatest extent possible, the users of the recreation programs,” wrote Shepherd in his letter to the council. “To this end, the fees associated with various recreation programs have been adjusted to reflect this philosophy. It should be noted that this philosophy is quite common in the provision of recreation programs throughout the country.”
The council is also being asked to approve some new Recreation Department programs: Field hockey, Junior Gaels fitness, a women’s softball league, a Kid’s Corner for pre-school and kindergartners, a Roxbury Teen Center for middle school and high schoolers and a counselor-in-training program.
About the new field hockey program, Douglas cited “the addition of the new turf field” at Horseshoe Lake Park. He asserted that, “multipurpose being a key component to youth athletics, this addition to recreation will continue to compliment the variety of female sports the township has to offer for our community.”
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