Home Authors Posts by Donald Wittkowski
Ocean City has a series of government boards, authorities and commissions that oversee everything from zoning, planning, the municipal airport, public housing, the library, tourism – and more. However, finding enough volunteers to fill all of those boards has become what one city councilman bluntly calls “a real problem.” City Council is taking steps to overcome the shortage of volunteers by introducing an ordinance that would repeal the term limits for the board and commission members.
Brayden Smith watched in fascination as the trains went round and round on tracks that passed through a miniature fantasy town of tiny people, quaint homes, schools, businesses and streets lined with snow-covered Christmas trees. “I like Santa in the caboose,” 4-year-old Brayden exclaimed when his father, Eric Smith, asked him to name his favorite part of the train display. Brayden wasn’t the only one who was captivated Saturday by the elaborate model railroad displays, many featuring holiday themes, at the Ocean City Train Show at the Music Pier, now in its 24th year.
City Council introduced four ordinances Thursday night that include key parts of Ocean City’s strategy to provide its state-mandated “fair share” of affordable housing. The ordinances incorporate elements of a legal settlement, approved by the courts last August, laying out the city’s affordable housing plan through 2025.
Jeffrey Pierson, a Cape May County freeholder who had a 42-year career in the Army and New Jersey National Guard before entering politics, recounted New Jersey’s involvement in World War I during a presentation Wednesday at Stockton University. His remarks came just three days after the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, which finally brought the bloody “War to End All Wars” to a close on Nov. 11, 1918.
Ocean City has become the first fire department in New Jersey to use a new “bailout system” allowing firefighters to escape a burning building. Costing $465 apiece, the personal lifesaving kits will be carried by all 63 members of the department, Capt. Ray Clark said.
City Council took the first step Thursday night toward formally withdrawing from a $9 million property deal that was halted by a petition drive organized by a local taxpayer group. In a 7-0 vote, Council introduced an ordinance to repeal a funding package that it had approved in September to buy the nearly block of property bordered by Simpson and Haven avenues between 16th and 17th streets. The site includes a now-closed Chevrolet dealership.
Costing just shy of $1.1 million, the Ocean City Fire Department’s new ladder truck is a high-tech wonder that will be a centerpiece of public safety. Fire Chief Jim Smith explained that the truck’s 107-foot-high aerial ladder is needed to fight high-rise fires that could strike the taller hotels and condominiums in town.
A potent nor’easter Saturday combined drenching rains, wind gusts hitting 55 mph overnight and flooding at high tide the next morning that was higher than predicted. “This is the worst flooding on the island since Jonas,” said Frank Donato, Ocean City’s emergency management director. “This one topped what they consider the 10-year storm flooding mark.”
A local government watchdog group submitted an amended petition Monday as it continues its efforts to force a public referendum on Ocean City’s proposed $9 million purchase of strategically located land. Fairness In Taxes has been trying to collect enough signatures from registered voters to put the land deal on the ballot, although Mayor Jay Gillian believes a public referendum would likely kill the transaction.
Nearly 200 people braved the gloomy weather Saturday morning to venture out on Ocean City’s beaches from one end of the island to the other – from the Ocean City-Longport Bridge to Corson’s Inlet. Instead of toting around beach chairs and umbrellas, they carried large trash bags and were wearing rubber gloves. Now in its 33rd year, the city’s fall beach cleanup brings environmentally conscious volunteers together in a communitywide effort to remove litter from the sand and dunes.