Some Sea Isle residents don’t like the city’s plan to build a Welcome Center as an addition to the Community Lodge, but officials say they believe that may be the best option.
Council is moving forward with its plans to open a Welcome Center by spring 2012, but a group of residents want the city to reconsider and build a separate center.
Those who oppose the idea of an addition say it will crowd out existing groups that already use the Community Lodge.
“It should be by itself in a building all its own,” resident Dorothy Fean said during a meeting last week in which council approved spending $50,000 on upgrades and design for the project. Fean urged the council to “do it right” the first time.
Fean said she and others are circulating a petition in an effort to get the council to reconsider.
Council President Mary Tighe said the board will consider the residents’ point of view, but that the board may not be able to compromise on the location. Current plans call for the Welcome Center to be built on the city’s main entrance point, on John F. Kennedy Boulevard at the foot of the bridge.
Tighe said a Bay to the Beach steering committee — which included city officials, business owners and residents — formed about two years ago and thoroughly vetted potential locations for the center.
She also the committee chose an expansion to the Community Lodge as the best option.
“We want to get the people as they’re coming in,” she said.
While some residents said they were concerned with the proposed location of the city’s welcome center, others said they thought one center was not enough for the city during busy summer months.
“From a business standpoint we need to inform the people,” Michael Monichetti, owner of Mike’s Fish and Seafood Market, said during last week’s meeting. “Out of frustration we need to put something somewhere.”
Monichetti said he would like more than one tourism center in the city.
Tighe said the city’s current tourism information center on the city’s boardwalk would remain open after the expansion is complete in the spring of 2012.
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