NORTH WILDWOOD — When the city’s Beach Patrol headquarters was built almost 50 years ago, nobody thought to accommodate female lifeguards.
Decades ago, it was exceedingly rare to see women watching over beaches in South Jersey. Even as recently as 1994, there were only five female lifeguards in Atlantic City, four in Cape May and two in Wildwood Crest.
Today, nearly half of North Wildwood’s lifeguards are women, and a bond ordinance set to be introduced at the City Council meeting Tuesday includes $2 million for reconstruction of the headquarters — including a women’s locker room.
The 15th Avenue headquarters is suffering from a lot of maintenance issues and is not up to current flood-elevation levels, Mayor Patrick Rosenello said.
“We’re going to tear it down and completely rebuild it,” Rosenello said. “The current building is in very, very bad shape.”
An engineer estimated it would cost more than $1 million to repair the building, according to a news release from the city. Rosenello said he thinks it makes more sense to just build a new one.
The mayor said the headquarters will be on pilings and include a public restroom, and improve accommodations for female members of the patrol.
“They are using a converted office in the building” as a locker room, Rosenello said.
Rosenello said $2 million is the cap for the project, adding it may cost less. He said construction could start in October after the city completes the bidding process.
The $3.85 million bond ordinance also includes money for beach and dune reconstruction, two bulkhead reconstructions, reconstruction of 15th Avenue and a road resurfacing project.
The bond ordinance is set to be introduced alongside the municipal budget at Tuesday’s meeting. Rosenello said he expects a public hearing and second reading of both at the March 21 meeting.