WILDWOOD CREST — The borough and neighboring Wildwood have similar-sized beaches, but the similarities largely end there.
While Wildwood’s beach plays host to thousands each year at soccer tournaments, scouting events and the occasional Kenny Chesney concert, Wildwood Crest’s beach is a quiet strand except for a popular beach run and the occasional game of baggo.
“The Crest has been more family-oriented, more about the quiet enjoyment of the beach,” Wildwood Crest Borough Clerk/Administrator Kevin Yecco said.
But an email inquiry by a would-be promoter interested in holding some sort of soccer camp on the beach spurred a discussion Wednesday at the City Commission meeting about the beach’s potential.
Commissioner Don Cabrera asked about the possibilities of using the beach, which measures 1,500 feet at its widest point and is about 2 miles long, for events like its neighbor.
“Wildwood is not our competition,” Cabrera explained. “We want to complement it.”
He envisions everything from Frisbee events to volleyball tournaments on the borough’s beach, a space wide enough to hold a tournament on one end while sunbathers relax on the other.
Yecco told the commissioners that rules and regulations would have to be implemented to guide the community if it chooses to add such events or business ventures.
“Do you want to privatize the beach,” Yecco asked as the option of having a for-profit business operate on the beach was discussed.
Mayor Carl Groon said there is a difference between offering a service and having an event, and the borough has to decide what it wants.
“The process has to be a very measured process,” Groon said.
Wildwood, for instance, is home to the Cape Express Beach Blast Tournament.
In 2012, 23,000 people attended the Beach Blast, which is sponsored by Morey’s Piers, in the spring, while15,000 attended the fall event.
According to the Wildwood City Clerk’s Office, the city received $11,170 in event and camping permits for the two events, which City Clerk/Administrator Chris Wood said offset the cost of beach maintenance.
Currently, the borough’s beach is home to just a few small events such as a beach baggo tournament held last year and a popular 5k run.
This season will see the addition of a sand-sculpting festival slated for the end of June.
Yecco said larger events would either be done through a bid process, possibly sponsored by the borough or done through a partnership with an event organizer.
But he noted there are key differences between Wildwood Crest and Wildwood.
“We don’t have a convention center. We’re a dry community,” Yecco said.
Those differences may mean the two towns host different types of events, but Yecco said if an event can be a source of revenue than it is something to be considered.
Cabrera would like to see more events and find ways to make the borough’s beach a choice for event promoters.
“We want to encourage more people to come,” he said, noting that events mean hotel stays and restaurant spending.
But he stressed the events should be in keeping with the resort’s character.
“We’re talking about family events,” Cabrera said.
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