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Chronic flooding at the Ocean Aire Condominiums is so bad at times that stormwater literally surges as high as the windows. But residents living at the condo complex at 43rd Street and West Avenue in Ocean City’s south end won’t be moving out. They’ll be moving up. Funded by a proposed $3 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the condos will be raised nine feet higher to protect them from flooding that seeps out of the adjacent marshlands and bay. “It’s never been done before. It’s an unprecedented project,” City Council President Bob Barr said of the scope of the plan.
Ocean City has been spending millions of dollars in the past few years for an ambitious dredging program to clear out sediment-choked channels and lagoons along the back bays. In some places, the sediment had been so thick that boaters were unable to navigate through the shallow lagoons at low tide. The next round of dredging is expected to get underway this fall and will target a series of lagoons in need of maintenance to keep them in good shape. Local waterways scheduled for dredging beginning in September or October will include Snug Harbor, Glen Cove, Sunny Harbor, Venetian Bayou, South Harbor and Waterview, according to city documents.
Ocean City’s public housing agency has already jumped ahead of schedule in the early stages of a nearly $7 million project that will provide affordable housing for senior citizens now living in a flood-prone neighborhood. Construction began on the Ocean City Housing Authority’s Speitel Commons project on May 1 and is expected to take about 12 months to complete. In an encouraging sign, the authority’s contractor is already about eight to 10 days ahead of schedule and has made two adjustments that have reduced the cost by $180,000, a consultant reported Tuesday during the agency’s monthly board meeting.
Christopher Glancey stepped out on the pool deck of what will be the first new hotel built in Ocean City in more than 20 years and admired the panoramic views that his guests will enjoy, too. “There’s the Boardwalk, there’s the roller-coaster and there’s the Ferris wheel,” he said while pointing to some of the popular Boardwalk amusements looming over the city’s skyline. After pausing for a moment, Glancey added one more very big attraction that unfolds all the way to the horizon. “You also have a view of the ocean,” he said. Glancey and his development partner Bob Morris are planning to open the Impala Suites boutique hotel in August, giving Ocean City a new lodging option for families that vacation in the resort town.
Ocean City residents Saturday urged newly elected Councilman Jody Levchuk to help ease flooding in their neighborhoods, repair deteriorated roads and to preserve a large tract of land in the midsection of town for open space. Levchuk, who was sworn in July 1 as the new Third Ward councilman, held a Zoom and teleconference meeting with residents to formally introduce himself and to listen to any concerns or suggestions from the public. In opening remarks, he told residents not to hesitate to call or email him or to stop by his house or his Boardwalk businesses to speak with him in person. “I have an open door policy,” Levchuk said.
City Council expressed strong support for the Ocean City Police Department Thursday night, saying that it would never consider any efforts to defund the department or reduce public safety in a town that has cultivated an image as “America’s Greatest Family Resort.” Councilman Keith Hartzell said the “No. 1 reason” tourists choose Ocean City as their vacation destination and residents decide to make their homes here is its reputation as a safe, family-friendly community. “You do a damn good job in keeping us safe,” Hartzell said in comments underscoring his support for the department and Police Chief Jay Prettyman. Other members of the governing body echoed Hartzell's remarks.
A tropical storm churning up the coast is expected to lash the Cape May County beach resorts with high winds, heavy rain and flash flooding on Friday, according to the forecast from the National Weather Service. The low-pressure system strengthened to become Tropical Storm Fay. It is moving up from North Carolina’s Outer Banks and will drench the Jersey Coast with up to 3 inches of rain starting Thursday night into Friday afternoon, forecasters say. Shortly after 5 p.m., the National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning for Cape May, Atlantic, Ocean, Monmouth and Middlesex counties. As it clips the coast, the storm is expected to pack sustained winds of 30 to 35 mph and gusts up to 45 mph or higher.
They call them “rolling billboards,” but they don’t advertise a product or service. Instead, they carry a powerful message reminding motorists of the dangers of drunken driving. On Thursday, police departments in Ocean City, Sea Isle City and four other South Jersey towns unveiled patrol cars emblazoned with the logo of the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign, a 20-year-old initiative to promote the use of designated drivers. The ceremony, attended by local police officers and municipal officials on Sea Isle’s Promenade, launched a new sober driving campaign starting at the Jersey Shore just as the Fourth of July holiday weekend arrives.
Two incumbents and two political newcomers took the oath of office Wednesday on City Council and immediately presented a unified front in efforts to get the beach resort fully reopened amid the coronavirus pandemic. Michael DeVlieger and Bob Barr are returning to Council for new terms, while Jody Levchuk and Tom Rotondi join the governing body for the first time after winning seats in the May municipal election. Barr was appointed president and DeVlieger will assume the role as vice president in a reorganization of the leadership positions on the seven-member Council.
With some laughter, a few tears and plenty of hugs, City Council said an emotional goodbye Thursday night to Tony Wilson during his last meeting with the governing body that he served on for nine years. The Council meeting was the first one in three months that included members of the public sitting in the audience. Since April, the meetings had been held online and by teleconference during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in New Jersey. With Gov. Phil Murphy easing some of the state’s coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings, Council was able to welcome an in-person audience for Thursday’s meeting at the Stainton Senior Center.