Home Authors Posts by Donald Wittkowski
Ocean City is taking an eco-friendly approach for the landscaping of parks, recreation sites, gardens and other plots of public land scattered across town. Under a new $192,480 landscaping contract awarded by City Council on Thursday night to A. Guzzo Landscaping LLC of Turnersville, N.J., the city is switching to organic landscaping methods in place of chemical pesticides. In all, the pesticide-free landscaping program will cover 61 public sites, including popular areas such as the grounds at City Hall, the dog park on 45th Street, the wildlife sanctuary on 25th Street and the Bayside Center on Fifth Street.
Ocean City’s governing body gave final approval Thursday night to an ordinance that prohibits businesses that cultivate, manufacture, test or sell marijuana. Looking to preserve its family-friendly image, the city will ban the sale of marijuana in the aftermath of New Jersey’s legalization of cannabis in February. Approved by City Council by a 6-0 vote, the ordinance bans marijuana facilities within one-quarter mile of a school, church, recreational or sports facility, the Boardwalk and any residential area. It would effectively outlaw businesses from selling marijuana, hashish or pot paraphernalia in all parts of town.
Ocean City is proposing an $87.4 million municipal budget for 2021 that reflects the financial challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the unprecedented decline last year of key sources of revenue. The spending plan calls for a 2.2 cent increase in the local property tax rate, but that figure is expected to decline once the city learns just how much it can use of $7 million in federal stimulus funding toward the budget. Frank Donato, the city’s chief financial officer, told City Council during a detailed budget presentation Thursday night he is confident that some of the stimulus aid can be incorporated to reduce the proposed tax increase.
Infuriated by what they called “vulgar and disgusting” language, City Council members Thursday night condemned the Ocean City Sentinel for publishing guest columns that appeared to threaten the life of two elected officials and included a graphic description of a sexual assault on one of their wives. Council approved a resolution formally demanding an apology from the Sentinel’s editor and publisher, David Nahan, and from John McCall, the guest columnist who wrote the inflammatory opinion pieces printed in the weekly newspaper on Jan. 13 and March 10. “City Council supports freedom of the press but strongly condemns the publisher’s editorial judgment in his decision to print the offensive column, particularly in a local hometown newspaper,” the resolution said.
Ocean City was founded by Methodist ministers in 1879 as a “dry” resort town that bans the sale of alcohol. Now, the city wants to ban the sale of marijuana in the aftermath of New Jersey’s legalization of cannabis last month. Voting 7-0, City Council introduced an ordinance Thursday night that would prohibit businesses that cultivate, manufacture, test or sell marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia. The measure would ban marijuana facilities within one-quarter mile of a school, church, recreational or sports facility, the Boardwalk and any residential area. It would effectively outlaw businesses from selling marijuana, hashish or pot paraphernalia in all parts of town.
An Ocean City condominium complex often inundated by stormwater will be getting a lift – literally – to elevate it above flood levels. The city has been awarded a $3 million federal grant to raise the seven-building Ocean Aire condos at 43rd Street and West Avenue in the south end of town. “This is monumental. To my knowledge, this has never been done before on the East Coast,” City Council President Bob Barr said of the elevation of so many buildings. A construction contractor hired by Ocean Aire will pick up each building off the ground and then will erect a massive cinder block nine feet high underneath. The buildings will be placed on top of the cinder blocks to raise them above flood levels.
Deauville Inn is becoming one of the most desirable venues at the Jersey Shore for couples to say “I do” while savoring the gorgeous view. Overlooking picturesque Corson’s Inlet, the historic restaurant and bar in Strathmere is evolving into a top destination for weddings and other special occasions under its transformation by new owner Tim Fox. “We have the perfect sunsets at the Deauville,” Niguel Martinez, director of events and sales, said of the bayfront location for weddings. The Deauville is preparing for a particularly strong wedding season this spring as life gradually begins to return to normal with the emergence of the COVID-19 vaccinations.
Ocean City elected officials Thursday night angrily denounced New Jersey’s legalization of recreational marijuana, calling some parts of the new pot laws nothing short of “insanity.” “I can’t tell you how upset I am,” Mayor Jay Gillian said during comments at a City Council Zoom meeting. Clearly livid, Gillian launched a broad attack against pot’s legalization and was joined by the seven-member governing body.
Although it is only a half-mile long, 14th Street is considered one of Ocean City’s most important arteries for crosstown traffic. Starting at the bay and heading east toward the ocean, the street passes through residential neighborhoods, crosses over the downtown business district and then ends at the Boardwalk. Third Ward Councilman Jody Levchuk, who travels 14th Street every day from his home to his family-owned Jilly’s Boardwalk businesses, believes the road “definitely needs attention” because of its deteriorated condition and tendency for flooding. Soon it will get it. The city is in the design phase for an overhaul of the section of town from Ninth to 18th streets, including the flood-prone 14th Street. New drainage systems, stormwater pumping stations, pipes and road improvements are planned.
After lengthy debate that produced a rare split among its members, City Council voted Thursday night to table a no-bid consulting contract for the design of a flood-mitigation project in an area that is vulnerable to stormwater. By a 5-2 vote, the governing body decided to put a “two-week pause” on the proposed contract to ACT Engineers Inc. in order to discuss the project further and consider opening up the work to other consulting firms.