There used to be a time -- when 10,000 people would flock to Monmouth Park for a day at the racetrack -- that extra police officers were needed to help regulate the flow of traffic leaving after the last race of the day, according to Oceanport Mayor Michael Mahon.
But with the significant drop off in attendance over the years -- down to about 3,000 to 6,000 fans -- combined with the racetrack's need to reign in spending, the recent decision not to hire officers for traffic control "makes sense," Mahon told Patch on Thursday.
"We are going to take the wait-and-see approach," the mayor said, adding that the borough is in contact with the track's management and will "bring any problems to their attention."
Monmouth Park will still hire officers for the traditionally high-attendance days -- Father's Day and the annual Haskell Invitational, according to Oceanport Police Chief Harold Sutton.
And while Sutton thinks that traffic is still pretty heavy on the roads surrounding Monmouth Park during the summer, it's because local traffic has become a lot heavier, he said.
"When the park gets out, it pushes it over the tipping point," he said. "It makes the problem bigger."
That's the point Mahon made during the May 3 Oceanport Borough Council meeting, when a member of the audience said that even though track traffic has gone down, road congestion was still heavy.
Mahon said that after having to make 20 percent cuts in wages and benefits for track employees, Monmouth Park management has had to make cuts where it could. "As they look at the budget overall, this is something that has been targeted," Mahon said of paying for extra officers.
The mayor said, "My hope is attendance takes off and we have those traffic situations that we fear."
Mahon added, "My fingers are crossed we have those types of problems."