Today, Council President Michele Liebtag, Councilwoman Kandy Ferree and I participated in a productive meeting with senior leadership from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (which has jurisdiction over state parks) and a representative from the Governor’s office.
This meeting resulted in both short-term and long-term actions that are aimed at addressing issues along the Delaware River in the Borough of Frenchtown. While this is a broader state and regional issue, our collective goal is to foster public safety, environmental stewardship, and a welcoming and safe experience for residents and visitors alike. Below are some of the immediate and more longer-term strategies going forward.
Park Rules & Signage:
- NJDEP will assist with the messaging and reaffirming of existing park rules along the Delaware River on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and others.
- Immediate installation of additional signage (in English and Spanish) noting state park rules that have been particularly challenging in our area:
o No open fires
o No grills
o No littering
o No swimming (Note: state parks that allow swimming have designated swimming areas).
Enforcement of Existing Rules:
- The immediate enforcement of existing prohibitions against grilling and open burn pits in non NJDEP designated grilling areas such as Frenchtown’s waterfront. State Park Police will be directed by the NJDEP leadership to issue citations as needed. Local law enforcement will supplement as needed.
- The immediate enforcement of existing prohibitions against alcohol consumption. State Park Police will be directed by the NJDEP leadership to issue citations as needed. As with the above, local law enforcement will supplement as needed.
- Additional attention and enforcement on issues associated with littering.
Costs, Services and Collaborations:
- With respect to the overall trash costs, the NJDEP will install a dumpster (at state cost) for any trash that needs to be disposed of by waterfront users. The state will assume costs for emptying the container regularly. Frenchtown Borough will remove the blue Republic containers. We are advised that most state parks have had individual containers removed.
- The existing port-a-pots that were installed by the NJDEP along the waterfront will be cleaned more frequently.
- The Borough of Frenchtown will continue to work with the River Ambassadors to share real-time information, support visitor education efforts and consistent messaging in English and Spanish.
- The Borough of Frenchtown will work with existing private property owners with large parking lots limit access to private parking for commercial-based activities only.
- The NJDEP notes that the number of people utilizing state parks across the country and along Delaware River has drastically increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. The issue is not isolated to the Borough of Frenchtown.
- As such, the NJDEP is looking into creating specific areas that will be managed by the NJDEP along the Delaware River for tubers and possibly swimming in the future. NJDEP designated swimming areas are staffed by trained lifeguards. At this time, NJDEP does not have any sanctioned swimming areas along the Delaware River; watercraft – boats, canoes, kayaks, paddle board and tubes are allowed.
- The NJDEP will study capacity limitations for areas along the Delaware River that are now being frequented by park users.
- The NJDEP will be working on developing better messaging and understanding of its various park networks along with what each site does and does not offer.
- Additionally, Frenchtown Borough Council is:
o Exploring options for metered parking in commercial areas and resident permits in residential areas
o Introducing necessary ordinances to allow for legal enforcement to support any resulting parking time limits or paid parking systems
o Exploring options to acquire private parking areas for Borough/public use