But that offer, made by a narrow vote of the Borough Council, was contingent on the bar owners accepting it—something they were not ready to do just yet.
"I'd like to be able to tell you this is all resolved, but it's not," said Edward McGlynn, an attorney for the boardwalk bars. "We have not made a decision yet."
McGlynn said he planned to speak on Wednesday with the director of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the state liquor regulators who the bar owners have asked to quash the midnight bar closing law. The attorney said the division director indicated he would rule on the case by Friday.
The council adopted a midnight closing law last month in an attempt to cut down on early-morning rowdiness by bar patrons returning to their cars in residential neighborhoods. It was to take effect this Sunday.
But Mayor Vincent Barrella said the liquor board had asked both sides to try to work out a compromise. That, he said, is exactly what Point Pleasant Beach offered.
"Is 1 o'clock better than 2? Absolutely," he said. "Is midnight better than 1 o'clock. Absolutely."
Barrella said if the bars go along with the 1 a.m. plan, "I think it could work."
But there is still the chance the state ABC director could side with the bar owners, strike down the midnight bar closing law, and leave the current 2 a.m. closing in place. Barrella said the borough would likely appeal that decision, and said a ruling against the midnight closing law would constitute a state-imposed unfunded mandate, suggesting it could be challenged on those grounds as well.
Borough Attorney Sean Gertner said he believes the state would approve any compromise agreement the borough and the bars are able to reach.
At issue is Point Pleasant Beach's status as one of New Jersey's most popular family resorts. City officials and many residents worry that continued instances of fighting, public urination and defecation, vomiting and screaming by tipsy bar patrons in the wee hours of the morning will drive away family tourism.
But the bars note their economic contribution to the town, and say they feel the town wants to take advantage of them financially.
In adopting the midnight closing time in May, Point Pleasant Beach offered the bars an expensive compromise: They could stay open until 2 a.m. if they paid an extra fee based on occupancy, with the money to be used to fund extra police patrols in neighborhoods where the misbehavior has been the worst.
Both sides tried unsuccessfully to negotiate an agreement to voluntarily fund the beefed-up patrols, even as the bars appealed to the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to block the midnight closing and the extra fees, calling them "extortion."
Last summer was widely considered to be the worst in years in terms of early-morning neighborhood disruptions here. One woman called police after someone defecated on her front porch. Trash-strewn streets were common sights following weekend nights, with beer bottles and other debris littering lawns and curbs.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC