High Tide

Seven President’s underwent an extensive beach replenishment program in 1997, which enlarged the beach area, but changed the tidal system. Both Compton and Borchert say that the whims of nature rank among the biggest challenges at the waterfront, particularly with the change in sea shelf and a heightened interest in preserving nesting areas for shore birds and other struggling species along the Jersey shore.

“With the beach replenishment, how the beach reacts and how the bottom structure ends up after a storm with heavy winds and high tides, it’s not a typical gradual grade. We’re getting drop-offs and cuts, and beach scouring. So we have to get out with loaders and equipment to smooth those areas out,” says Compton.

“We get a number of rip currents when the water comes in and channels back out and pulls swimmers from the shore. It’s always changing. Before the beach replenishment you kind of knew where things were — the surfers knew the breaks and the guards knew where the rips were.”

Despite that, Seven President’s has an excellent safety track record, thanks to the combination of vigorous lifeguard training and the aforementioned cross-training. The numbers from last year’s beach season tell the tale: With 91 days open for guarded bathing there were 156 rescues, 115 water assists, 150 patron assists (incidents on the beach itself, not the water), and 31 lost-person searches. The searches were usually for small children who wandered away from their parents. All were accounted for.

From a maintenance standpoint, keeping an eye out for nesting shore birds has upped the ante, as any identified nests need to be sealed off from visitors and mechanical beach cleaning.

The state requires the park system to create natural areas between the dune line and the high water mark for the nesting birds and areas for interpretive nature programs.

Because this and the beach replenishment might throw visitors off their normal and quicker path to the beach, Seven President’s has purchased portable boardwalks that can be laid out on the sand, which has the double-duty of easier access for those with disabilities.

Borchert says they’re moving more toward synthetic materials for signs, furnishings and the boardwalks to ease maintenance in the harsh saltwater environment.

Building Design

At Manasquan Reservoir, the park system dealt with a similar nesting challenge, as bald eagles made a nest near the reservoir’s environmental center. Fortunately, the nature center was allowed to continue operation, though it falls just outside the 800-foot buffer the state mandated around the nest.

The nesting has created great public relations, and the park system decided to place a camera inside the environmental center and focus it on the nest, piping images into the center. Compton emphasizes that though something like video images and other points of interest in the nature facility are great to have, the goal is to get everyone outside. So the interesting things inside are used to push them outside and become more active with the environment.

The reservoir features a five-and-a-quarter mile compacted quarry stone trail, boat launch areas, a visitor’s center with a bait-and-tackle shop and boat rentals, and day- and week-long camps, among other activities and amenities.

One of the secrets to running an area like this smoothly is design, says Compton. For instance, Manasquan Reservoir utilizes floating docks and a ramp that allows the reservoir to operate, even if the water level drops significantly.

“We tried to make the buildings fit into the environment as best we could while making it as accessible as possible. The other thing we did with these particular buildings, and we’re doing it at a number of locations, is designing bathrooms with two accesses, so we can have a restroom open at 6 a.m. for trail users, but the remainder is not open until the park is fully staffed. They have a connecting hallway with an inside access to the restrooms and outside access for users.”

And, like at Seven President’s Oceanfront Park, safety is a priority. Manasquan Reservoir requires all boaters, regardless, to wear life vests.

“It’s a push when it’s 98 degrees, people say they’re good swimmers and they don’t have to do it anywhere else, but it has made a safety impact, and if it saves one life I recommend it,” says Compton.

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Related posts:

  1. Presidential Parks
  2. A Dynamic Duo
  3. From Splash Pad To Sprinkler
  4. Water Zones
  5. Plan Ahead

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