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Living at the Jersey Shore has some benefits, but there’s a real detraction in the summer months: tourists. It’s hard to find parking, the roads are stuck in gridlock, and there’s plenty for other things. Shore dwellers have a name of the tourists: BENNYs. It’s an acronym for

Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York

And for some, there’s a definite hatred involved when they use it. You see this on stickers and t-shirts, to, as in “Benny Go Home!” Sure, some of that vitriol is well placed, but it can also be counter productive and destructive. Basically, if you go to an open town council meetings in places like Avon-by-the-Sea, and here officials talk about their town’s finances, you’ll notice two significant chunks of revenue: property taxes and the sale of beach badges during the summer months. All the of the businesses, too, within a shore municipality, also receive an uptick in sales/patronage. So, while tourists can be annoying, they still contribute the economic prosperity of places like Belmar. Also, driving tourists away from your town is akin to shooting yourself in the foot, as Mayor Pringle of Belmar has done. Consider this story from the Asbury Park Press:

BELMAR ā€” Oh, no, he didn’t.

Such was the reaction from a group of young Staten Islanders huddled on the boardwalk Tuesday morning, gasping as they read a recent edition of Mayor Kenneth E. Pringle’s summer newsletter ā€” complete with its jabs at “Staten Island girls,” “Guidos,” and blondes.

“That’s like us calling all Jersey girls skanks!” 20-year-old Samantha Padovano exclaimed after reading a story about a hairspray-wearing “SI girl” whose bar fight “ended the way most fights with SI girls do” in the July 4 issue of the Belmar Summer Rental News.

Jersey-ites of all stripes routinely complain about being stereotyped by Philadelphians, New Yorkers, and the rest of the country. Yet, sometimes, they stereotype others themselves. It’s a mocking sort of superiority complex, and you’ll find it in every region. Northerners make fun of southerners, and vice-versa. Still, if you’re the dully elected representative of a municipality, one would think you’d work hard to keep the economic interests of that municipality in mind. As for this particular gaffe, it’s par for the course for Pringle:

Pringle begins writing the weekly newsletter in June, just as thousands of beach lovers descend on this milelong borough, and he posts it on the Belmar Web site. He also prints up, at his own expense, enough copies for special police officers and code enforcement officials to deliver to the borough’s 300 summer rental units, he said.

The publication’s goal, Pringle said, is to show renters how year-round residents perceive their conduct and to educate the renters about local laws on everything from “animal houses” to trash pickup.

“They come here thinking that they can get away with all this stuff and no one will bother them,” he said. “The newsletter is a way to repeatedly drum into them . . . what the rules are.”

And it works, Pringle added. Since last year, when Belmar began distributing the newsletter, the borough has seen a decrease in the number of summonses issued to renters, the mayor said.

That’s well and nice, but there’s tactful way he could have done this. It may lack verve or sarcasm, but a plainly spoken publication, more interested in facts than barbs, could get the job done quite easily. Sure, Pringle’s newsletter may have caused a decrease in summons, but driving away tourists is going cause all rates to go down too, not just summonses:

Longtime borough resident Pat Melango, however, said she has seen a different trend. Fewer people come to Belmar each summer, because of the attitude toward visitors that is displayed in the newsletter, she said.

Agreed.

“We’re supposed to be a tourist town,” Melango, 72, said. “We’re not inviting tourists.”

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