Issues with trouble-making visitors along a riverfront street in Toms River have diminished since residents first brought their concerns to the township council in March, and this week the governing body introduced an ordinance that would ban overnight parking on the whole the street.
The trouble centers around the presence of six parking spaces on Bay Shore Drive, a picturesque street lined with attractive homes on one side of the block and an unspoiled view of the river across the street. The parking spaces were installed at the behest of the state Department of Environmental Protection, which required the township to install them as a condition of a permit that allowed the bulkhead along the river to be replaced. But the small parking area, and open space surrounding it, had generated more than 50 calls to police by the time residents came to town hall, requesting action.
According to residents, the parking spaces are often used as intended during the daytime, but at night, troublemakers end up finding what becomes a dark corner of the southeast portion of town. Some of the offenses are minor – a “lover’s lane,” so to speak – but there are also frequent drug overdoses reported to police, as well as residents who told township council members at recent meetings that they’ve witnessed hand-to-hand drug deals taking place across the street from their homes.
One resident described periodic horn-honking in the middle of the night that just wouldn’t stop. He finally went outside to see what was going on, and he saw a man intermittently “nodding off” from consuming drugs. His head would slope down, hitting the horn, which would then wake him – and the neighbors – up. The police and EMS were called to the scene. Music sometimes blasts for hours on end from vehicles, the nearby residents said.
Since the March meeting, the township installed a mobile chain that is laid across the parking area at 10 p.m. each night, shutting it down in accordance with an existing parking ordinance. The spaces cannot be removed, as requested by the residents, since they were required by the state. One resident who came to a council meeting this week said the situation has markedly improved since the chain was installed and maintained, and police presence increased.
The new ordinance, introduced unanimously by the township council Wednesday, would prohibit overnight parking along the entirety of Bay Shore Drive – not just the six designated spaces – which will allow law enforcement to crack down on those who attempt to loiter at night.
The ordinance is subject to a public hearing and second vote before its formal adoption. The hearing and vote are expected to be held at the township council’s May 24 meeting.