A former New Jersey councilwoman for the city of Asbury Park has sparked some controversy as she lobbies to have a bathing suit ban ordinance enforced.
Louise Murray, chairwoman of the local Republican party and a city councilperson from 1997-2001, said the law has been long ignored and it should be enforced. Asbury Park is a city that sits on the New Jersey coastline and has a boardwalk, and many beachgoers must cross the boardwalk to access the water.
According to New Jersey Star-Ledger, Murray is concerned about Asbury Park's image as a "classy" city and doesn't want it soiled by skimpy beachwear on the boardwalk and in shops and restaurants.
"I understand that social things have changed," said Murray. "But forget that. Just put a shirt on."
So she's brought to attention to the current city council an old law that forbids bathing suits on the boardwalk, noting that the law has long been unenforced.
The law, which states "No person clad in bathing attire shall be on the boardwalk or the public walks adjacent thereto", was passed over 40-years ago during a different era. While officially on the books since 1958, some suggest the law probably dates back to the end of the 19th century.
This law carries a fine, but being it has long ago fallen off law enforcement's radar, current officials admit they do not know much about the edict. CBS News reported since no exact fine is noted, the fine carries a general one, which is up to $2,000, 90 days in jail and community service for those breaking the law.
Some note Murray's point, but say there is not the manpower to for officers to police what people are wearing, others think it's an antiquated law that doesn't apply in the modern day.
“That’s additional man hours. With the state cutting back and the city cutting back, that raises taxes. So I’m gonna have people riding around on bikes looking, checking swimsuits? No,” Councilman Kevin Sanders said. CBS Philadelphia reported Sanders also wondered why Murray didn't bring this up as an issue when she was on the city's council.
Additionally, decades ago there were tunnels and catwalks that connected changing rooms to the beach; these pathways no longer exist, so beachgoers have no place to change without crossing the boardwalk. The ban could potentially impact the local growing economy some fear.
Greg Laplaca, owner of Laplaca Pottery Works on the boardwalk, said "Asbury Park would be out of business," if officials began enforcing the bathing suit ban as Murray proposes.
The city has recently undergone a revitalization after experiencing a hard time where much of the boardwalk had to be closed down. Over the last 10 years, the historic boardwalk area has been revived, and high-end restaurants and shops have been moving back in since 2007.
Asbury Park boardwalk in July 2002. Since this time Asbury Park has undergone a revitalization and many restaurants and shops have moved back in
Deputy Mayor John Loffredo said it's a "tricky subject" as he understands Murray’s concern, however notes it's not that simple.
"How do you satisfy everybody?" Deputy Mayor John Loffredo said. "I don’t think it’s appropriate to just wear a bathing suit at a bar. But it’s up to the business. If they allow it, they allow it."
“That’s ridiculous, the police have better things to do–especially in Asbury Park,” said Bob Hansen of Bradley Beach.
Others support Murray in her quest to see this law is enforced. “They shouldn’t be out here all the time with bathing suits because it does not look good at all,” one man told CBS News.
Geri Girard told NBC News the law separates Asbury Park from Seaside Heights, home of MTV's "Jersey Shore" reality show, which is currently filming its sixth season.
"This is what makes us nicer, it's better than Seaside," said Girard.
Murray, a lifelong resident, says Asbury Park is not a beach town. "It’s a city. We just happen to be on the ocean."
From the looks of what's being reported in several media sources, it does appear lawmakers will look to have this law repealed.