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Sea Isle City to Tackle ‘Juvenile Misbehavior’

Sea Isle City Promenade gazebo May 13

By Camille Sailer

SEA ISLE CITY – The municipality’s meeting room was filled for Sea Isle City Council’s Aug. 10 meeting by those concerned about escalating rowdyism and vandalism on the resort’s Promenade, beaches and private properties. 
Individuals, including property owners and decades-long visitors, said they were “fed up and angry,” “worried about property values,” and “highly concerned that tourism will be plummeting in Sea Isle because who wants to come into this environment.” 
Mayor Leonard Desiderioreplied to the concerns by detailing the“very proactive approach we are taking to make sure we get these incidents of juvenile misbehavior under control. Most of the juveniles are not the culprits, but in large groups of 200 or more, who show up along the shore during different nights, not obeying the law, a few can make real trouble.”
The mayor said he spoke with the state Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck the day before the meeting and would have another meeting with him and the Cape May County prosecutor to devise strategies to improve the situation of, as he described it, the “rule changing of the former attorney general.” 
The mayor noted “other municipalities are passing resolutions and sending those to Trenton that may or may not even get read. We decided to go right to the state’s top law enforcement officer and work with him to get this problem under control.” 
Suggested changes include implementing records of multiple warnings, so perpetrators can be prosecuted, “since, at this point, groups cause trouble in Ocean City Thursday, Friday in Avalon, and Saturday in Sea Isle, and then we have no record of these repeating offenders, nor any way to address their behavior.” 
The mayor also mentioned that the municipality would be closing beach entrances at 10 p.m., in an effort to disburse the crowds.He also recommended that condo buildings and other private property management post “no trespassing” signs, so that police can better enforce regulations against lawbreakers. 
Police Chief Thomas McQuillen reinforced the mayor’s message to call police immediately if an incident is observed, and that to the extent possible, anonymity will be preserved. 
Both Desiderio and McQuillen pledged more officers and other enhanced manpower from the Cape May County Sheriff’s Office will be out and visible to keep out-of-control juvenile gatherings in check. 
During public comment, residents said, “The Sea Isle we have been enjoying for decades is changing because of these rowdies and their vandalism,” “why aren’t existing ordinances enforced, such as no bikes at night on the Promenade and against speeding juveniles on bikes who have run down pedestrians, including children,” and “why can’t Sea Isle institute curfews,” which, per city Solicitor Paul Baldini, are very difficult to enforce.
Desiderio concluded his explanation of city initiatives by noting, “All are welcome in Sea Isle, but if you don’t know how to behave, this is not the place for you.”
To contact Camille Sailer, email csailer@cmcherald.com.

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