WILDWOOD CREST — The worn wooden boards of the white-and-blue trimmed clubhouse are gone, but the Wildwood Crest Fishing Club won’t be forgotten.
The club started in 1917 and had as many as 150 members, but as the beach at Heather Road grew, the water beneath the fishing pier disappeared.
The pier was extended many times to catch up, eventually reaching 1,010 feet in length, but it couldn’t keep pace with the sand.
In 1957, the accreting sand was even mentioned in the club’s anniversary program, with club members blaming the problem on the stone jetty at Cold Spring Inlet and the closing of Turtle Gut Inlet.
“Members feel that the building up of the beach due to the Cold Spring Jetty has probably reached a point where the natural beach line will remain constant with minor variations due to storms and wind,” the program noted, but decades later, the sand continues to accrete.
The borough, however, worked to at least keep the pier, turning it into a popular place for visitors to take in the views.
“It’s an icon in the Crest,” Commissioner Don Cabrera said.
Now, the clubhouse has been demolished and borough employees are turning the space where the building once sat into a shaded sitting area for the coming season.
Meanwhile, the club’s memorabilia — pictures, log books and membership rosters — have been saved for a new home at the borough’s historical society.
“We saved all the artifacts,” Cabrera said as crews worked Monday to create the new seating area.
Cabrera said the borough kept the area the same size as the original footprint of the clubhouse, so that if another use comes along it would be permitted.
The old clubhouse, he added, had become an eyesore, worn away by the salt air and time.
“We’re basically using it as a seating area with recreational or retail space possible down the road,” he said.
For now, benches and trellis work will fill the space, giving visitors another place to stop and relax.
Preserving the pier has been an ongoing process.
In 2008, a dedication was held naming the Wildwood Crest Fishing Pier the Crest Beach Pier.
The aging pier was renovated and made handicapped-accessible for $670,000, paid for by the borough and a $400,000 grant from the state Department of Community Affairs.
Cabrera said the next step could be adding retail space or some other use.
As for the artifacts, he expects they could find a new home at the site of the borough library.
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