City Council last night began to consider the first of what will be many measures related to our obligation to provide affordable housing in Ocean City.
It’s important to meet this basic need for the elderly and less fortunate in our community, and it’s a court-ordered mandate. It’s not a choice.
The history of affordable housing requirements in New Jersey is long and complex. It resulted in a state Supreme Court decision that ultimately determined that Ocean City has a need for more than 1,600 housing units.
We were able, however, to reach a settlement agreement this summer that recognizes the challenges of meeting that number and requires the city to create far, far fewer units.
The agreement sets out a plan to partner with the federally sponsored Ocean City Housing Authority to expand and improve units at existing sites, to build a small number of new homes (taking advantage of property we already own, if possible) and to provide incentives to private owners and developers through zoning and other measures.
The city has been collecting fees from developers and has a substantial balance to help offset the costs of this plan.
I will schedule a town hall meeting early in the new year to share information and solicit feedback from the public on this initiative.
City Council also gave final approval to an ordinance that accepts $650,000 from the Cape May County Open Space and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund for the acquisition of the former Getty Station at the foot of the Ninth Street Bridge, and establishes an agreement for the city to maintain it as open space.
This grant and a similar one for $475,000 brought more than $1.1 million to the city to turn two abandoned gas stations into a small park at the gateway to the city.
Though opportunities to preserve or restore open space are rare, we will continue to pursue them when they arise.
I also want to provide updates on some of our major capital projects:
Fourth Ward Neighborhood Drainage Project: Two more pumping stations (at 30th and Haven and at the end of 28th Street) for the project are now expected to be active by the end of next week. The final one (off Bayland Drive) is tentatively scheduled to be operational during the week of Dec. 10.
North End Neighborhood Drainage Project: Paving work on most streets in the project area will be completed in the coming weeks. Work to install drainage pipes and elevate parts of Bay Avenue continues. Pumping stations are now expected to be activated sometime in February or March.
Bayside Dredging: Work to dredge the Waterview area near Merion Park, Clubhouse Lagoon, Bluefish Lagoon, parts of South Harbor, Sunny Harbor, Venetian Bayou, Carnival Bayou, Snug Harbor and areas of the bayfront north of the Ninth Street Bridge is now complete. Contractors are now free to work with private owners who wish to have their slips dredged. visit www.ocnj.us/Capital-Projects-Bay for more information.
A contract has been awarded for the Shooting Island shoreline restoration project, and I will provide a separate update on this groundbreaking effort.
The semi-annual Postal Service Food Drive is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 8.
If you’re heading to the grocery store this week, please consider picking up some extra non-perishable items or toiletries.
Postal carriers will pick up any donations from home mailboxes a week from tomorrow. The effort is important to our local Food Cupboard.
I’m sad to report the passing of Elizabeth Hink, who died last week at age 94.
Bette was a long-time city resident, city employee and volunteer for First Night, the Ocean City Historical Museum and other community organizations. Michele and I would like to extend our condolences to all her family and friends.
Mayor Jay A. Gillian