MARGATE — There’s a problem with Margate’s bay, as Maggie Day sees it.
It’s cut off. Public use is restricted. As it exists now, the bay is little more than a members-only club, accessible only to those with means. It’s contrary to the city’s philosophy, she said, which is one that encourages residents and visitors alike to enjoy access to its beaches and water.
She thinks she can change that.
Day, along with developer Tom Tice, is hoping to turn a portion of the back bay into an aqua park and activity center, a completely inflatable recreation complex complete with trampolines, slides, and obstacles, among other attractions.
Day and Tice appeared before Margate’s commission recently to introduce themselves and their idea to the public before officially submitting plans. In a time where new developments and proposed zoning changes have drawn the ire of locals, the informal introduction of the aqua park served as a optimistic heads-up to the community at large.
The goal is for the aqua park to be a feature in Margate, not a detriment.
“We’re going to be resident friendly. Everything we offer to tourists we’re going to offer to our resident children,” Day said. “It’s one more place for children to go to have good, clean, safe, outdoor fun.”
Day purchased a bayside property along Amherst Avenue earlier this year and prepared preliminary plans for the aqua park. Together, she and Tice decided to scrap their initial idea in favor of something larger. Recently, an adjacent parcel was purchased which should allow for a larger aqua park than originally conceived.
Even though the pair have yet to seek approval from Margate’s planning board and are still waiting for the State Department fo Environmental Protection’s go ahead, Day has set an aggressive target for the park’s opening. Ideally, she said, kids will be in the water, splashing their way through the park in just months.
“Our goal is to be open by spring 2019. It is an aggressive goal but one we think we can meet,” Day said. “Worst case scenario would be 2020.”
There are plenty of hurdles to jump through before that goal can be reached. The bay at low tide could pose a problem for an inflatable water park, though May said she’s seeking a permit from the DEP to dredge the area.
Then there’s the problem of Margate’s citizenry, which has been active in defending Margate’s character as a neighborhood beach town, not an amusement destination. In just over a year, residents have fought the development of a miniature golf course, overran a commission meeting to protest an overlay zone that would allow a beachside hotel, and have developed homeowners groups to give voice to taxpaying, non-resident property owners.
Day and Tice have one thing going for them, however. They know how these things work. Day is a business owner and president of Stone Harbor’s chamber of commerce and Tice is the owner and operator of Stone Harbor’s Island Water Sports, a facility that offers numerous water activities, including its own inflatable park.
Day’s presentation to the commission was not an official submission of a plan, though that did not stop a few residents from speaking their mind on the issue. But, while one resident worried that an aqua park is another step in turning Margate into Wildwood, a majority of those who spoke said they were in favor of the park, noting that it would provide children with something to do, exercise, and would encourage access to the bay.
Margate’s commissioners listened to Day’s presentation, interjecting to ask questions about issues such as safety, potential bulkhead repairs, and hours of operation. Though residents may want more information than they’ve received thus far, the time for that will come along with an officially submitted plan, they said.