Authors Posts by Donald Wittkowski

Donald Wittkowski


Cape May County Toll Bridges Go Cashless Amid Coronavirus Fears

Five toll bridges linking the Cape May County beach communities along the Ocean Drive will no longer accept cash payments in response to the coronavirus outbreak. They include the Ocean City-Longport Bridge between the northern end of Ocean City and Longport, the Corson’s Inlet Bridge between Ocean City and Strathmere, the Townsend’s Inlet Bridge between Sea Isle City and Avalon, the Grassy Sound Bridge between North Wildwood and Stone Harbor and the Middle Thorofare Bridge between Cape May and Wildwood Crest. The Cape May County Bridge Commission, which oversees the bridge network, announced that it will implement a cashless toll system beginning 6 a.m. Thursday until further notice “as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.”

Bridge Toll Collectors Taking Precautions Against Coronavirus

Don’t be surprised if a toll collector holds out a basket the next time you pay in cash on the five bridges linking the Cape May County beach towns along the coast-hugging Ocean Drive. Hoping to limit their exposure to coronavirus, toll takers with the Cape May County Bridge Commission are wearing protective gloves and asking motorists to drop their cash and coins in a basket when they pay their $1.50 fare. Officials with the bridge commission stressed that the coronavirus pandemic is a strong reason why motorists should stop paying in cash and should instead use the E-ZPass automated toll system.

Coronavirus Concerns Delay Groundbreaking for Housing Project

A groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for April 4 to celebrate the start of construction on a nearly $7 million affordable housing project for senior citizens in Ocean City has been postponed indefinitely amid the coronavirus outbreak. City Councilman Bob Barr, who also serves as chairman of the Ocean City Housing Authority, said the event was expected to draw a large crowd, so it has been called off for the time being.

Skatepark Advocate Wants Lights for Facility

Steve Beseris says that even during the coldest days of winter there is one place in town that is always bustling with activity – the Ocean City Skatepark. “On days I would never be outside, they’re out there all day long,” Beseris said of the skateboarders. He hopes that the park’s popularity in the daytime will persuade city officials to install permanent lights to give skaters even more time to enjoy an attraction that everyone agrees has become a big hit. Beseris, a local educator and advocate for the skatepark, appeared at the City Council meeting Thursday night to urge the governing body to consider adding lights to the facility. He immediately received the backing of at least three Council members who spoke in favor of installing lights.

Mayor Touts Ocean City Improvements From “Beach to Bay”

Ocean City will continue with its strategy of improving the beaches, bayfront and Boardwalk to strengthen its reputation as a popular family-friendly vacation resort, Mayor Jay Gillian said Thursday night in his annual State of the City address. In his remarks, Gillian repeatedly focused on infrastructure projects and quality-of-life issues that are critical for making the city attractive to residents and tourists as well as promoting its image as “America’s Greatest Family Resort.” He also unveiled his proposed 2020 municipal budget, a nearly $83 million spending plan that would increase local taxes by a half-cent. Under the budget, the owner of a $500,000 home would pay an extra $25 annually in local taxes, the city’s Chief Financial Officer Frank Donato said.

“Sediment Trap” to Protect Snug Harbor

In simple terms, it is described as a “bathtub.” But this isn’t anything like the bathtub in your home. Instead of filling up with water, it will capture large amounts of muddy sediment in Snug Harbor, one of Ocean City’s most troublesome spots for muck and silt accumulating on the bottom of lagoons along the back bays. Also known as a “sediment trap,” the project will be part of the city’s 2020-2021 dredging program proposed by Mayor Jay Gillian when he presents his five-year capital plan to City Council in March.

Local Residents, Contractors to Receive Hiring Preference for Housing Project

Ocean City’s public housing agency wants to make sure that local residents and companies share in the economic benefits created by a nearly $7 million housing project scheduled to get underway in April. By a 6-0 vote, the Ocean City Housing Authority board members approved an “action plan” Tuesday that gives preference to local residents and companies for jobs and contracts for the proposed 32-unit Speitel Commons housing complex. Five years in the planning phase, the project will provide affordable housing for senior citizens who are now living in a flood-prone area of town in the authority’s Pecks Beach Village development on Fourth Street.

Learning About Environment is a ‘Fun-Day’

His name is Spalding, he’s around 3 feet long, weighs 18 ounces and is about 25 years old. He slithers and flicks out his tongue a lot. Oh, he’s friendly, too. “He’s really nice,” Nikki Freyer said of Spalding as Harper Boyle, 4, and her 3-year-old sister, Marlowe, looked quizzically at the snake, a ball python. Although curious, the two little girls didn’t seem the least bit scared while watching the snake. In fact, they wanted to pet the python while it wrapped itself around a piece of wood. “He’s ticklish,” Marlowe said with a giggle. Spalding, one of the denizens of the Cape May County Zoo, was arguably the star attraction Saturday during the Family-Friendly Nature and the Environment Fun-Day event at Ocean City’s Howard S. Stainton Senior Center.

City Council Seat Remains Open After Vote Falls Short

City Council interviewed four prospective candidates Thursday night to fill a vacancy on the seven-member governing body, but fell short of the number of votes needed to appoint someone to the position. The vacancy was created when former Second Ward Councilman Antwan McClellan resigned in January to take a seat in the state Assembly following his election to the New Jersey Legislature in November.

City Council to Interview Candidates to Fill Vacancy

City Council may fill a vacancy on the seven-member governing body that was created by the election of Antwan McClellan to the state Assembly by appointing someone to temporarily represent the Second Ward. Or maybe not. Council has the option of filling the seat or simply leaving it open for the remainder of McClellan’s unexpired term to July 1. Candidates seeking the seat will be interviewed in closed session prior to Council’s Feb. 13 meeting. Council will then decide whether to vote to appoint someone when it convenes in open session or leave the seat vacant, Council President Peter Madden said.