Shore business owner says Island Beach State Park closure is ‘nauseating’

     A sign advising of the Island Beach State Park closure due to the state budget impasse on Saturday, July 1. (Photo courtesy of Dennis Auciello)

    A sign advising of the Island Beach State Park closure due to the state budget impasse on Saturday, July 1. (Photo courtesy of Dennis Auciello)

    Jersey Shore business owner Dominick Solazzo says he might need to get a second job if the New Jersey budget impasse carries on and Island Beach State Park remains closed throughout the holiday weekend.

    Solazzo, the father of two young children, is the owner of Shore and More General Store on Route 35 in Ocean County’s Seaside Park. His business is located less than a mile north of the state park, celebrated for its natural environment and white sand beaches. 

    On busy summer mornings, Solazzo says, cars heading toward the park jam the state roadway. And that’s a boon to his business, which he says carries all beach essentials. 

    But this weekend is setting up to be nightmare for him and his young family. 

    “It’s painful. I have a knot in my stomach. Fourth of July weekend for a shore business is essential,” he said in an interview Saturday morning outside the park gate. “70% of my business comes from visitors to Island Beach State Park. Not to have it open through possibly the Fourth of July is nauseating.”

    Gov. Chris Christie ordered nonessential services, including state parks and the motor vehicle commission, to close beginning Saturday. Casinos, which are regulated by the state, remain open. 

    He and lawmakers remain in a stalemate over whether to include legislation affecting the state’s largest health insurer in the budget. 

    [RELATED: New Jersey fails to pass budget, Gov orders government shut down]

    But the damage will already be done for Solazzo, he says. 

    “This means I may have to get a second job after the summer. It’s going to be difficult for us,” he lamented. “This stretch of days is the biggest, most significant portion of our summer.” 

    Solazzo also says it’s terrible for families looking for a day at the beach.

    “It’s a $10 fee for a car to get into the park. It makes it affordable for the average New Jersey family to be able to enjoy a reasonable day trip.”

    Christie has called a special session of the state legislature for Saturday to address the budget impasse.

    —————————————————————

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.