Home Authors Posts by Donald Wittkowski
Sparks flew Thursday night during a City Council meeting that included some testy exchanges between members of the governing body over two contracts. In separate action, one of the contracts was tabled, while the other was approved by a 4-2 vote following heated debate. Early on, tensions were high among the Council members, but the tone quieted down later on and became conciliatory near the end of the meeting at the Ocean City Music Pier.
City Council introduced an $87 million municipal budget Thursday night that includes a smaller tax increase than initially proposed thanks to federal stimulus funding that helps offset local revenue losses suffered during the pandemic. The spending plan calls for a penny increase in the local property tax rate. The increase translates into an extra $50 annually in taxes for a home assessed at $500,000, Frank Donato, the city’s chief financial officer, said during remarks to Council.
Ocean City police officers will have to be extra careful in how they handle juvenile offenders who are smoking pot or drinking alcohol on the beaches, the Boardwalk or other parts of town this summer. In a dramatic twist, police may be the ones at risk of getting arrested – not the offenders, Police Chief Jay Prettyman said. New Jersey’s legalization of recreational marijuana this year includes legal restraints that will dramatically change the way officers statewide respond to underage offenders who are smoking pot or drinking alcohol. “You will very rarely, if ever, see a juvenile charged with a complaint,” Prettyman said during a 90-minute town hall meeting Saturday attended by about 100 residents and members of City Council at the Ocean City Tabernacle.
The Deauville Inn and its 240 employees have emerged from the pandemic together and are poised for a big recovery as the summer tourism season approaches at the Jersey Shore. The landmark restaurant overlooking Corson’s Inlet in the tiny town of Strathmere, between Ocean City and Sea Isle City, has been given a sweeping makeover under Tim Fox’s ownership since late 2019.
A proposed luxury condo-hotel that has languished on the drawing board for more than 15 years has received final approval from the Ocean City Planning Board at the same time the property is listed for sale. Dubbed Soleil Resort, the project would include 111 condo units in a six-story building overlooking the Boardwalk at 11th Street and Ocean Avenue next to the historic Flanders Hotel.
Ocean City’s public housing agency formally granted a 30-day extension for its construction contractor to complete a nearly $7 million affordable housing project for senior citizens. Previously, the 32-unit Speitel Commons complex was supposed to be completed by May 30, but the Ocean City Housing Authority voted at its board meeting Tuesday to push back the date to June 30.
A movie star will be taking up residence in Ocean City this summer. But with piercing orange eyes, a sharp, curved beak and fierce talons, Eli is not your typical celebrity. The intimidating female Eurasian eagle-owl is part of a group of raptors that will patrol the skies over Ocean City to prevent the pesky, squawking seagulls from harassing humans for their food. Eli, pronounced “ELL-ee,” started working in Ocean City after being filmed in a dream sequence in director Martin Scorsese’s new movie “Killers of the Flower Moon” starring Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Ocean City already prohibits cigarette and cigar smoking on the Boardwalk, beaches, at city parks, playgrounds, athletic fields and other public places. Now, another type of smoking will be banned in the same areas: Smoking or vaping marijuana or hashish will not be allowed in public under a proposed new law. Voting 7-0, City Council introduced an ordinance Thursday night that will effectively make all public places in the resort town a no-smoking zone for marijuana, including the Boardwalk, beaches, playgrounds and other popular areas.
Ocean City’s police department will increase patrols throughout town, particularly along the Boardwalk and in the downtown business district, to crack down on groups of unruly teenage bikers that seem to have become more brazen in recent weeks. Speaking during a City Council meeting Thursday night, Police Chief Jay Prettyman outlined his department’s strategy for dealing with a problem that includes bikers hurling insults or profanity at motorists and banging their hands on cars while riding down the streets. Prettyman, though, emphasized that the bikers are not part of organized gangs that are deliberately menacing the city.
Ocean City’s public housing agency has pushed back the completion date of its nearly $7 million housing project for senior citizens by a month or two because of a delay in getting the elevators installed. The Ocean City Housing Authority originally had been targeting May 1 as the completion date, but now expects the 32-unit complex to be finished by late June or early July, the agency said at its monthly board meeting Tuesday. Residents will occupy the three-story building in July.