SEA ISLE CITY - A hot-air balloon Ferris wheel and a rainbow-colored slide are now prominent downtown features in this resort city that was without an amusement park for a decade.
Gillian's Funland of Sea Isle City is expected to open most of its rides to the public Saturday afternoon following an especially rainy June that delayed opening by almost a month.
"Between the weather and everything, it's been a long few months. We need to get open," said Jay Gillian, who also operates the landmark Gillian's Wonderland Pier in Ocean City.
Weeks of rainy weather delayed the work to put down asphalt and concrete foundations at the park's location on a city-owned lot alongside a public waterfront on 42nd Place, he said.
Currently, the amusement park is awaiting final inspections and approvals from the state Department of Community Affairs, Gillian said.
A DCA spokesman could not be reached Wednesday.
The park already received necessary city construction approvals, city Administrator George Savastano said.
Gillian said he hopes to have most of the park's dozen children's rides operating by Saturday.
The last ride - bumper cars - was shipped from Italy and arrived in Sea Isle City on Tuesday, Gillian said.
Last year, City Council explored the idea of leasing the land to an amusement operator to fit into the city's beach-to-bay corridor project that also includes construction of a 1,000 foot Boardwalk-style walkway along the bay.
A City Council public hearing in September on the concept of bringing amusement rides back to Sea Isle City drew mixed reactions - from those who supported the idea as a way to attract tourists to those concerned about noise, lights and parking problems.
In February, City Council approved a 10-year lease of the land with Gillian.
In the deal, the city will receive 10 percent of the annual gross revenues of the park, but city officials have no estimate on what that could generate.
"It's going to give our people, our families, a place to go in the evenings and stay in town and give kids entertainment," council President John Divney said. "It's going to add more things and activities to our downtown area."
It will be the first amusement park in Sea Isle City in almost 10 years, after the closing of Fun City, a 30-year staple of the resort that was sold to developers.
Gillian has said he had plans for an amusement park in Sea Isle City for years, but the price of real estate precluded it.
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