I informed City Council last night that the city team has completed due diligence on the potential purchase of 50 Tennessee Avenue. I have decided not to move forward with the purchase of this property. We are balancing a lot of other priorities, and trying to redevelop this property at this time would not be the most effective use of taxpayer dollars. As always, we will continue to keep an eye out for good opportunities to acquire land for public use or open space.
Contractors are taking advantage of good weather to make great progress on beach and boardwalk projects. Great Lakes Dredge and Dock has reached Fourth Street in its beach replenishment work between Seaspray Road and 12th Street. If they continue at this pace, work could be complete by Christmas. Boardwalk demolition between 10th Street and 12th Street is complete, and Schiavone Construction is starting to drive pilings and place stringers for the new substructure.
I’m excited to report that Ocean City has been named by NJ BIZ as “the most tax-friendly municipality in New Jersey for retirees.”
Ocean City’s 0.79 percent local property tax rate is the lowest among the Top 10 places listed for retirees. I’m extremely proud to see Ocean City recognized in this way. Our tax burden remains low even as we continue to make major investments in infrastructure improvements to every part of the island. This is a testament to the value of investments in Ocean City property and to the fiscal responsibility of our city team.
It’s been another good year for Ocean City honors. Beachgoers chose Ocean City as “New Jersey’s Favorite Beach” for the fourth consecutive year in a statewide poll this spring. Our school district is home to both the state’s “Superintendent of the Year” (Dr. Kathleen Taylor) and the state’s “Teacher of the Year” (American Sign Language teacher Amy Anderson) for 2018. These accolades go along with the countless other recognitions Ocean City has earned in the past few years, including those for our boardwalk, downtown, ecotourism, family destinations, women-owned businesses and more.
On the other hand, a lot of people in Ocean City are upset by a USA Today article that ran on Nov. 21 and named Ocean City the “drunkest city” in New Jersey.
The article was borrowed from a USA Today affiliate called 24/7 Wall Street, which has run the same story, using the same sets of data, at least five times : Nov. 20, 2017; May 30, 2017; Nov. 21, 2016; May 14, 2016; and Nov. 11, 2015.
The story confuses the Ocean City metropolitan statistical area (MSA), which includes all of Cape May County, with the City of Ocean City, which has been a dry town since its founding in the 1800s. The “analysis” compares phone surveys from vacation destinations that include Cape May, the Wildwoods and Sea Isle City with the relatively small year-round population of the county.
The reporting is lazy, irresponsible and clearly designed to generate clicks (apparently at six-month intervals). At a time when credible journalism is vitally important, I’m extremely disappointed to see a national publication devoting its resources to such nonsense. It’s insulting to the many loyal residents and guests of “America’s Greatest Family Resort” and it’s unfair to mislead the paper’s audience.
I want everybody to know that the city is working with Atlantic City Electric to fix transmission problems that have kept some of our downtown Christmas lights dark. We hope to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.
First Night is not far away, and if you have not purchased admission buttons for your family, there is still time to take advantage of a $5 discount. Through Dec. 14, you can order your buttons for $15 online at www.FirstNightOCNJ.com or by calling 1-800-BEACH-NJ. Buttons also can be purchased in person at the City Hall Welcome Center and the Route 52 Welcome Center.
I hope you’re all planning to attend tonight’s Christmas Parade. It begins at 6 p.m. and travels along Asbury Avenue between Sixth Street and 11th Street. Check for more weekend events at www.oceancityvacation.com or on the new OCNJ app.
Jay A. Gillian