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Oceanport Mayor: 'Wait and See' on Track Traffic Issue

Mayor Michael Mahon agrees with Monmouth Park's recent decision to cease the hiring of police to help ease summer traffic.

There used to be a time -- when 10,000 people would flock to 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."

Power By Sunday Resident May 07, 2012 at 01:10 PM
We need our Oceanport police back on the job….we miss you….Traffic was a night mare for the simulcast of the Kentucky Derby. The 2 larger parking lots were not accessible to the fans trying to get a parking spot. The bozo directing traffic in front of the main gate was terrible; he had no clue or had very little training on traffic control. Not only was it a mess trying to get in but getting out was even worse. To top it off they ran out of bourbon for mint juleps’? Are you kidding me on Derby Day, What happens when Haskell day comes around?, will the run out of free hats….? the new owners should be sent to freehold raceway as punishment for the rest of the year. I would gladly pay and extra $10 to park if it meant Oceanport Police had control of traffic.
Shannon K. Winning May 07, 2012 at 04:07 PM
DOT did a traffic study of routes 36 and 35. I womder if the planned improvements hold any hope for route 36 west after 2pm on any given day when traffic backs up from the parkway to Monmouth Rd. I agree w the police, it's the year round local traffic that is the core issue. It is a nightmare for residents, commuters and businesses. It may have contributed to commvault's decision to move. So how as a town can we move to a solution?
ann marie houlis May 08, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Being a business owner in town, traffic control has always been a problem for us.Why would you pay 4 officers to direct everyone in the same direction, when customers of the track are forced to go to the highway, local businesses suffer, but that never seems to be a consideration, if your going to pay all that money to direct traffic, let the cars turn where they want, then maybe the highway wouldnt back up so fast. This is a summer town, we expect alot of traffic, it also helps to keep small businesses alive.
Power By Sunday Resident May 08, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I agree with you Ann, let the traffic go where they want to go and not limited to the highways out of town. My problem is getting the new track employees that don’t know what they are doing off the traffic detail and get the professionals to do the job the right way..
Gary Parent June 10, 2012 at 11:42 AM
The Police in Oceanport do a fantastic job, but it seems like we all have to cut costs to stay profitable in this weak economy and I guess that includes the traffic control too. I'd rather see an extra officer or two patrolling the town during busy days. I know the roads will be clogged for a while on big track days, I just stay home.

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