WILDWOOD — Imagine ice skating outdoors at any time of the year.
A project being pursued by city officials would allow just that.
The city is looking to build a synthetic ice skating rink along Pacific Avenue, a plan designed to provide recreational opportunities for residents and a destination to draw visitors downtown.
City Commissioner Pete Byron, who is spearheading the plan, would not comment on the project, but he and other city representatives took the proposal to the Cape May County Open Space Board this week.
The open space board heard the plan in closed session because the property involved belongs to a third party.
While details of the plan have not been discussed during City Commission meetings, local officials and business groups have been asked to lend support.
Wildwood Crest Business Administrator/Borough Clerk Kevin Yecco said Wednesday that the borough received an email from Wildwood on Tuesday asking for support for the project.
Yecco said the skating rink plan is under consideration, but the Borough Commission had not yet weighed in on the idea.
North Wildwood Mayor Bill Henfey said the city also received correspondence from Wildwood asking for support, but it had not been brought before City Council.
Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. said the skating rink, which would make use of synthetic materials allowing for the use of ice skates, would add a people-friendly attraction to the town.
“It’s a nice venture. It’s a park. It’s a skating rink. It’s an amphitheater. It’s a lot of green in the middle of a stark neighborhood,” Troiano said.
In a June 18 letter sent by all three Wildwood commissioners, the city asks “friends of the Wildwoods community” to support the rink.
“The city of Wildwood has been working diligently to find innovative ways to improve the community,” the letter reads, adding the focus has been on revitalizing Pacific Avenue.
The letter explains that the city is considering a synthetic skating rink and entertainment area “that will promote open space for festivals and special events, greenery in the downtown area and a recreational facility.”
The letter then asks for support before the open space board.
In its correspondence, the city cites a 2011 tourism seminar held by Roger Brooks, CEO of Destination Development International, a Seattle-based firm, and comments by brooks about what it takes to renew a downtown area.
The city cites the concept of creating a “third place” a place for people to gather and spend their leisure time.
The skating rink “gives us the ‘third place’ gathering area that is desperately missing from Pacific Avenue,” the city’s informational letter reads.
“I’m excited in the sense I hope it works,” Troiano said of the plan, adding that he hoped open space funds would be provided to move the project forward.
Tracey Dufault, executive director of the Greater Wildwood Chamber of Commerce, said the organization’s board is due to discuss the plan at its July meeting.
“But the chamber is in favor of anything that is going to improve the island and tourism,” she said.
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