• June 15, 2019

Trash an issue after busy weekend in Strathmere - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Trash an issue after busy weekend in Strathmere

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Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2019 11:06 am

STRATHMERE — With brilliant, sunny skies after a rainy spring, Strathmere had one of its busiest Memorial Day weekends possibly ever.

Now, if only the visitors would pick up after themselves. 

Linda Bateman, president of the Strathmere Improvement Association, told Township Committee members Tuesday, May 28, that this seemed like the busiest start of a summer that she could remember.

“I think we reached critical mass over the weekend. I have never seen a Memorial Day as crowded as this one was. It was wall-to-wall people,” she said. “Parking was insane.” 

Visitors left a lot of trash behind on the beach, Bateman said. 

There were also many dogs on the beach. Although Strathmere is seen as a dog-friendly beach, it is a violation of township ordinance to bring a dog to the beach in season, and they must be leashed throughout the year. Apparently that rule was widely flaunted. 

She told committee that one fisherman said a dog defecated near him and the owner refused to clean it up, saying it would just wash away with the tide. Another woman saw nine dogs on the beach at one time, Bateman said. 

“She reported it to the lifeguards and was given the answer ‘it’s not our job,’” Bateman said. 

It’s not, responded Mayor Richard Palombo. He said he does not want lifeguards distracted with that or other issues when they are supposed to be protecting swimmers. But according to Bateman, the State Police told her not to call with complaints about dogs on the beach. 

“Who’s job is it?” she said.

“It’s not their (the lifeguards’) job to tell people to get off the beach. They are not law enforcement,” Palombo said. 

Committeeman Curtis Corson suggested calling Shore Animal Control. That number is (800) 351-1822, as listed on the township website. Corson said Shore Animal Control, which has a contract with the township, would have a visible presence on the beach this summer. 

“And they will not be there to give warnings. They will issue summonses,” he said. 

There were also bonfires on the beach over the weekend, Bateman said. 

The mess on the beach was not limited to the township’s area. Palombo and Township Administrator Scott Morgan reported on a great deal of trash left behind by visitors to Corson’s Inlet State Park. 

“On the Strathmere end of Corson’s Inlet State Park, I’m sure a number of you are aware of the mess that was left by our visitors to the park over the weekend,” Palombo said. 

Trash cans on the street ends were overflowing by Monday. 

“It’s all cleaned up. We’re just going to take care of it, we’re not even going to wait for the state,” he said.  

Morgan said he was in contact with park officials who helped with the cleanup and promised to work closely with the township. The park has a carry-in, carry-out rule, which means there are no recycling or trash cans on the beach. 

“Carry out and drop is what that means,” Corson said. 

Palombo called it a total disgrace. 

“It’s hard to believe that people would leave that kind of trash on the street end,” he said. “It’s unbelievable to me that people can’t pick up after themselves.” 

“The same people that leave their trash on the beach are dancing around outlawing plastic straws for killing the whales,” Corson added.

Also at the Tuesday meeting, held a day late because of the Memorial Day holiday Monday, Palombo and township engineer Paul Dietrich discussed plans to rake some of the natural debris of the beach. Strathmere typically leaves reeds, shells and driftwood on the beach, but this year it has reached a dangerous level, Palombo said. 

“Right now, there’s a potential for foot injuries, because there are a lot of limbs and sticks and all kinds of things like that out on the beach,” Palombo said. 

He and Dietrich met with representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who said they were fine with plans to rake as long as the township stayed away from the dunes and from the endangered plants on the beach, which include the sea amaranth. 

“I get a biology lesson every time I go with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife,” Palombo said. 

Dietrich said he still needed to discuss those plans with the state Department of Environmental Protection. 

At the end of the meeting, Bateman expressed concern about the effect of raking on vegetation on the beach. Palombo said the rake would avoid any plants. 

“Not the vegetation. We’re going to rake around that,” Palombo said. “But what I am looking to do is prevent kids — let alone adults — from going down to the beach and stepping on something that could potentially puncture their foot. There is a lot of debris.”

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