MARGATE — Glenn Klotz says he will live to stand on a boardwalk in his hometown.
“We’re a long way away from a boardwalk, but we’re on the road,” Klotz said Saturday after hosting a presentation on the topic to more than 100 residents at the Ross School.
Klotz, president of the nonprofit Margate Boardwalk Committee, said he was thrilled with the turnout at Saturday’s meeting, although he wasn’t initially sure what to expect. He said city Commissioner Maury Blumberg was also in attendance.
The Boardwalk Committee spent the past year researching the feasibility and cost of building an 8,500-foot-long, 27-foot-wide wooden walkway between Ventnor and Longport, restoring a structure that existed more than a half-century ago before two major storms intervened.
Their motive is to improve the beach block after a 2017 replenishment project upset many residents due to the high dunes created, which they believe hurt beach access.
“It never occurred to me before the beach project what a boardwalk did for a town,” committee member Steve Davidson said during the presentation.
They believe a boardwalk will fix the beachfront.
“The only way that we can really rally around the beach at this time is to at least ensure that we all have access to what brought us here in the first place,” said committee member Ellen Lichtenstein. “This is actually a very easy decision for us to collectively make.”
She said it is a way to repair the damage done to the community and that boardwalks are part of Margate’s DNA.
“Rebuilding the boardwalk will be our legacy,” Lichtenstein said.
The proposed boardwalk would include 30 to 40 access ramps and would run along the dune line, not the bulkhead like it does in Ventnor, giving homes more privacy. There also would be a dedicated bike lane, LED lighting, three or four pavilions with outdoor showers, foot showers, bathrooms and water fountains. The cost of this “ideal” boardwalk is estimated at $24 million, Klotz said.
Other boardwalk options presented included a $14 million “basic” boardwalk with just ramps and the pathway, but no pavilions. A “Ventnor-style” boardwalk, about 20 feet in width, would cost $19 million.
The meeting also addressed safety and included a study by Stockton University professor and criminologist Marissa Levy, who said the boardwalk, because it would not be commercial, would not lead to an increase in crime, a concern among some residents.
During the meeting, the committee circulated a petition asking the City Commission to approve a referendum on a beachfront boardwalk. They received 85 signatures.
“Now the political process starts,” Klotz said.
He said because Margate’s form of city government doesn’t allow residents to legally petition for a referendum, this petition serves as a mandate from the residents and taxpayers and will show the commission and the state that there is a strong interest in the boardwalk.
“Our mission is to convince the residents of Margate and the commission of Margate and eventually the residents of Absecon Island, Atlantic County and then the state of New Jersey that a boardwalk in Margate is a good thing,” Klotz said. “And that’s what today was about, persuasion. I think we’re going to get there.”