I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and may 2018 bring health, happiness and prosperity to you and your families. I also ask you to keep in your prayers the families and friends of all those we lost this year.
I would first like to thank all members of our community who participated in town hall meetings and shared thoughts, concerns and suggestions through calls, the mail and email. We’re working hard to maintain Ocean City as a great place for all of us to live, work and play. This feedback is invaluable in our effort to improve all aspects of the city.
I’m grateful for the work of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Ocean City Board of Realtors, the Boardwalk Merchants Association, the Downtown Merchants Association, the Ocean City Restaurant Association and the Ocean Hospitality Association in maintaining a vibrant economy, which benefits the entire town. I want to thank the Exchange Club, VFW and American Legion posts, Colony Club and other groups in town for all that they contribute. And I want to acknowledge the work of the Ocean City Ecumenical Council and others in taking care of members of our community in need.
I also want to thank City Council for continuing to work in partnership with the city to get things done. We don’t always agree but the spirit of respect and cooperation is important to our success. Finally, I want to thank the entire city team and all of the board and commission volunteers for their service in 2017.
I am excited to begin 2018 and look forward to presenting an updated capital plan to City Council and introducing a responsible operating budget. These plans are important in our efforts to improve infrastructure and maintain facilities and services without an undue burden on taxpayers.
I’m proud of what we achieved in the past year. The Army Corps of Engineers two weeks ago finished a beach replenishment project that brought 1.3 million cubic yards of new sand to the north end – with the federal and state governments contributing more than 90 percent of the cost. What was anticipated as a seven-year boardwalk reconstruction project will be complete in five years. We were able to restart our bayside dredging program with both hydraulic and mechanical contractors, and we succeeded in extending the season for dredging by three months. Improvements to the firehouses at 29th Street and 46th Street and public facilities like the Ocean City Community Center will serve all of our residents, property owners and guests.
On Thursday, City Council approved a contract for our third major drainage project, this one in the bayside area between First Street and Eighth Street. This work will take advantage of a $5 million FEMA grant. Work is ongoing on the Fourth Ward drainage project and on road projects throughout the island. The city team will continue to commit resources to address all drainage issues as best we can. I want to thank South Jersey Gas, Atlantic City Electric and New Jersey American Water for making their own infrastructure improvements a priority in Ocean City.
I look forward to seeing all this work continue in 2018.
First Night, our family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration, is Sunday night, and if you have not purchased admission buttons for your family, there is still time to do so. All-inclusive admission buttons ($20) can be purchased in person at the City Hall Welcome Center at Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue, the Roy Gillian Welcome Center on the Ninth Street causeway, and at Stainton’s (810 Asbury Avenue). First Night will open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. at the historic U.S. Life Saving Station at Fourth Street and Atlantic Avenue. Race-day registration for the First Day 5K Boardwalk Run on New Year’s Day will be 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Ocean City Music Pier, and the race will start at 1 p.m.
And just a reminder: Due to concerns for public safety in the cold weather predicted for Monday, the First Dip in the Atlantic Ocean will not be held this year.
Michele and I would like to extend best wishes to all of you for a happy 2018!
Jay A. Gillian