MARGATE — Sure, some Margate homeowners spend their lives here, residents who see the crowds come and, during the winter when the population dips to around 6,000, go. Others arrive only during the summer along with the swelling crowds, just to spend their weekends relaxing in their second homes.
Though they’re not all full-time residents, there’s one thing Margate homeowners do share in, regardless of where they’re registered to vote: property taxes.
In an effort to give a voice to homeowners who call Margate home or only sometimes home, property owners are hoping to start their own homeowners association. The goal, they said, is the formation of a group that represents the interests and concerns of all Margate homeowners, whether they’ve got the right to vote or not.
On Saturday, June 30, the Margate Homeowners Association of New Jersey will hold its first public forum at 10:30 a.m. at the William H. Ross School. Invited is anyone who wants to have a stake in Margate’s future, organizers said.
Jay Weintraub, a Margate homeowner for more than two decades, is one of five board members spearheading the homeowners association. Currently, he said the group has a mission statement and a website being developed, and is in the process of making itself official through state registration.
The final piece needed, however, is public support. Talks about starting a homeowners association began among a select few at first, but it was through social media the board realized it might be on to something. Posts about the potential of starting a homeowners association in Margate have gotten positive responses from hundreds of property owners, both year-round and seasonal.
They all want what’s best for Margate, he said.
“There are things that are kind of bubbling up to the surface, and people want to have a community, a voice to respond. We really want to do what’s best for Margate,” Weintraub said. “People want to know their voices matter. That they’re not being disregarded.”
Margate has been without an official homeowners association for the better part of four decades, Weintraub said. There existed a group in the early 1970s, but the organization fizzled and did not resurface.
In the past few years, Weintraub said he and other Margate homeowners have witnessed changes they could do nothing about. Even full-time, registered voters aren’t happy about some of the changes taking place. There’s the beach replenishment and outflow pipe program run by the Army Corps of Engineers, a mini-golf course that some feel wasn’t properly vetted before being approved, and the loss of dozens of parking spaces in commercial areas recently, among other issues.
A unified voice might be enough to persuade local leaders to act, organizers hope.
“I think the time is right. People care, they care about Margate. And whether they’re full or part time (residents) we all want the same thing,” he said. “It’s a combination of many things, and unrest has grown over many years. People feel like no one cares, that there’s an Old Boys network in charge that won’t listen.”
While second homeowners have no voting rights, Weintraub thinks this new iteration of a Margate homeowners association has a good chance at effecting change. For one thing, they’ve got plenty of full-time residents pledging support. One such resident said the group isn’t about extending voting rights to those who merely vacation in Margate, but to give them the voice they deserve.
Weintraub said the common goal is what brings both sides together.
“There is a belief that the locals are special. And they are. They’re there all year round and they support it all year round,” he said. “But they’ve seen their Margate change over the years, too. There’s a tide of unrest in Margate and people just want to be heard.”