MARGATE — About 150 people came out Thursday afternoon to give their opinion and listen to arguments for and against building a beachfront boardwalk in the city.
The residential turnout, which overflowed the Municipal Courtroom, was spurred on by the nonprofit Margate Boardwalk Committee giving its report, “A Margate Boardwalk for the 21st Century,” to the city commissioners and its requests for a public poll of all city taxpayers on the topic and referendum for city voters.
Glenn Klotz, president of the nonprofit Margate Boardwalk Committee, said one of the commissioners suggested his committee collect 500 signatures to show there was interest in the idea.
He gave the commissioners 613 signatures.
“I would ask the commissioners to take a poll and then consider a referendum,” Klotz said.
Margate’s original boardwalk, built in 1906, was largely destroyed in 1944 during a hurricane. What remained of the boardwalk was swept away in the Ash Wednesday storm of 1962.
The 26-page report Klotz gave details all of the positions and plans of the group.
The committee also gave the commissioners a study by Stockton University professor and criminologist Marissa Levy that said the building of a residential boardwalk would not lead to an increase in crime.
Levy’s study also said it would make the mainly unoccupied offseason beach block properties safer because of the informal surveillance of more people passing by and increased police patrols.
Jay Weintraub, president of the Margate Homeowners Association, said his association has not and will not yet take a stance on a city boardwalk, but it did poll its members for two days at the end of last month on the subject.
The 638 votes were split among 400 yes votes, 186 no votes and 52 not-sure votes.
“Our membership is made up of 64% nonvoting second homeowners and 36% full-time voting members,” Weintraub said.
Klotz and his committee members showed up at the meeting in favor of building a boardwalk, but just as many people spoke for at least 90 minutes against the idea.
As much as Ronald Zukin, 79, would like a boardwalk, he said he does not want to pay for its construction, the maintenance of it or the extra police officers needed to patrol it.
“It will not do anything for Margate. Avalon and Stone Harbor have survived without one,” Zukin said.
Linda Novelli, who lives in the city, said the building of a boardwalk would cause a decrease in value of oceanfront homes, and some homeowners would probably put the houses up for sale.
“We are a unique town because we don’t have a boardwalk,” Novelli said.
The committee report presented to the commissioners offers different types of boardwalks. The “ideal” boardwalk is estimated to cost $24 million. The “basic” boardwalk, with just ramps and the pathway, but no pavilions, would cost $14 million.
A “Ventnor-style” boardwalk, about 29 foot in width, would cost $19 million.
Now that the committee has made its presentation to the governing body, the next step is to see whether the commissioners discuss the report at all, whether they decide to have a third party conduct a poll or whether they decide to hold a referendum on the idea.