WILDWOOD — Mayors of the Wildwoods told the business community their beaches are undergoing changes, from replenishment and grading to the addition of beach bars, all efforts designed to get the tourism community ready for summer.
During a meeting of the Greater Wildwood Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, the mayors of Wildwood, North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest said all of the beaches will be ready to receive the annual influx of tourists, estimated at 9 million people each year.
On the northern end, North Wildwood Mayor Bill Henfey said a beach-replenishment project will add 150,000 cubic yards of sand to the city’s strand, and the recent additions of handicapped-accessible walkways and ramps make Boardwalk and beach access for all even easier.
The replenishment project, he said, is expected to begin in May and be done by late June.
Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr., happy to have the city’s budget in place, said the city continues to look to its vast beach for new revenue sources. The goal, he said, is to add everything from a beach bar to concerts and other activities to draw visitors and add to the city’s coffers.
“This year, you’re going to see a lot of things happening on the beach,” he said.
Down at the far end of the island, Wildwood Crest Mayor Carl Groon said his community is regrading its beach, work that should be complete by the first week in May.
“Our beach will be ready for the tourist season,” Groon told the audience of motel, restaurant and other business owners.
The borough, he said, is also replacing the temporary beach walkways damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
“We get more complaints about the walkways not being there than anything else combined,” Groon said.
The mayors, who are invited to speak to the chamber each year, also spoke about other aspects of their respective communities’ infrastructure projects, budgets and other plans.
North Wildwood, Henfey said, continues to improve bulkheads and city streets in attempts to reduce flooding. Those projects include bulkhead improvements at Third and Fourth avenues and a major street overhaul along 26th Avenue, the border with Wildwood.
“Our goal is to improve how fast we get the water out,” Henfey said.
North Wildwood is also going to bid on a project to widen the seawall at north New York Avenue. That section of the wall should be widened about 3 feet to make it easier for fishermen and others to share it. Some structural repairs are also being made to the Boardwalk, part of ongoing maintenance.
Troiano said Wildwood is in good financial shape and introduced a budget much earlier than in past years.
The budget comes with a 1.4-cent, tax-rate increase, down from as much as a possible 30-cent increase, he said.
“There’s no one-trick ponies. No smoke and mirrors” in the budget, Troiano said.
The city is undertaking several major road projects, and improvements are slated to upgrade the look of the city’s main entrance at Rio Grande Avenue.
That could include the addition of a miniature golf course where the former C.R. Fannie’s strip club once stood.
Lastly, Troiano said the city is putting together a history book to mark its 100th anniversary, which was celebrated last year.
Groon said Wildwood Crest is readying its summer concert series and planning the largest infrastructure project the borough has taken on, a $10 million effort on New Jersey Avenue that will include the replacement of water and sewer lines and storm outfall pipes.
Troiano and Groon also thanked Henfey, who is not running for re-election this year, for his time as a fellow mayor.
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