By Mary Thurwachter
You’ll want to think twice about visiting friends in Manalapan or going to Lantana’s beach on April 6 and 7.
“Be prepared for a traffic nightmare,” said Lantana Police Chief Sean Scheller.
That’s because Chinese President Xi Jinping will be bunking at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Manalapan those two days, in town for a meeting at Mar-a-Lago with President Donald Trump.
Scheller, at the request of Town Manager Deborah Manzo, alerted the council about Jinping’s visit during the March 27 Town Council meeting.
“Secret Service will be taking over 80 percent of Lantana’s beach parking lot,” Scheller said. “There’ll be an enormous amount of fencing going up, probably starting on April 4.”
Scheller said he had no idea if protests are being planned, but that the corner of Ocean Avenue and A1A all the way north to Mar-a-Lago will be very congested for a few days.
“The sheriff will be handling everything — crowd control and traffic,” said Manalapan Police Chief Carmen Mattox. “We’re going to support the Sheriff’s Office in any way they need assistance.”
The hotel remains mum about its special guest.
“Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa is a Forbes five-star resort, and we hold the privacy of our guests as a priority,” said Cindy Racco, general manager. “It is our policy not to comment on guests who may or may not be staying with us.”
Manalapan officials would refer to the upcoming special visitors only as “dignitaries” at their town meeting on March 28 and will be emailing residents warning them to avoid driving near Ocean Avenue and A1A during the first week in April.
“If you’re coming into the town, come from the south,” Town Manager Linda Stumpf said. “We don’t know how the traffic is going to be because when any of these dignitaries leaves the Eau, traffic will be stopped. Go down to Ocean Ridge and head north to come here to Manalapan.”
When can beachgoers return?
“The beach should be open to residents sometime on the seventh,” Scheller said.
Dan Moffett contributed to this story.