Home Authors Posts by Donald Wittkowski
Try to imagine, for a moment, a vast convoy of nearly 1,700 dump trucks rumbling down the highway. And also try to imagine each one of those trucks filled with a load of muddy goo. That is the rough equivalent of all the soup-like sediment that Sean Scarborough’s dredging company removed from the clogged lagoons in Ocean City and other Jersey Shore communities in the past few months. Altogether, Scarborough Marine Group dredged 25,000 cubic yards of muck from the back bays while clearing out private boat slips. Scarborough said some of the lagoons were so clogged with sediment that there was essentially no water in them during low tide, meaning that boats were trapped on mud flats at their own docks.
In addition to the formidable Stormtroopers from the iconic “Star Wars” franchise, the Music Pier was filled Sunday with virtually every other villain and superhero from comics, movie and science fiction lore. Hundreds of OC-Con aficionados browsed through the comic books, trading cards, movie posters, action figures and other collectibles sold by vendors. LeVar Burton, of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" fame, was the headliner.
Only a year after its devastating 1927 Boardwalk fire, Ocean City began construction on a grand concert hall that was to become the epicenter of entertainment and cultural arts in the resort town. The 1928 cornerstone plaque on the outside of the building indicates that it was originally christened the Municipal Pavilion, a rather bland name that clearly did not reflect the excitement going on inside. Now known as the Music Pier, a far more illustrious title, the oceanfront venue is about to receive a $2.1 million facelift to ensure it will continue to host concerts, shows and beauty pageants for many more years to come.
City Council approved a $6.6 million bond ordinance Thursday night for affordable housing construction, including a new project that will allow senior citizens to leave a flood-prone neighborhood. The city is planning to build or rehabilitate affordable housing sites for senior citizens and low-income families. The projects will help Ocean City meet its state-mandated obligation to provide its “fair share” of affordable housing as part of a court settlement in 2018.
In what may revolutionize the tourism industry at the Jersey Shore, the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce is getting ready to roll out an upgrade to its vacation app that will give people the convenience of making cashless purchases simply by using their cellphones. “I don’t know of any other location that has something like this,” said Ken Wisnefski, chief executive officer and founder of WebiMax, the digital marketing company that has helped develop the app for the Chamber. Wisnefski touted the cashless payment system in front of a roomful of business owners Thursday evening during the Chamber’s Business Summit Workshop at the Flanders Hotel.
Bryan Woolbert is a visually impaired college student who plays his electric keyboard on the Ocean City Boardwalk to entertain the crowds of summer tourists. On Thursday night, he was ready to perform in front of a different audience – the mayor and members of City Council. He brought his instrument with him to the Council meeting, but no one asked him to play. Still, he impressed the roomful of elected officials. In this case, it was his words that moved them. Woolbert, 20, of Egg Harbor Township, persuaded the Council members and Mayor Jay Gillian to revise a proposed ordinance that he thought might not let him play his electric piano on the Boardwalk anymore.
In a meeting dominated by financial matters, City Council on Thursday night introduced a municipal budget that keeps local property taxes stable and also introduced two bond ordinances that will fund millions of dollars in capital improvements throughout Ocean City. Council also adopted Mayor Jay Gillian’s proposed five-year capital plan, a sweeping blueprint for $108.3 million in infrastructure projects stretching from the bay to the Boardwalk to the beaches. Projects in the capital plan will be funded on a yearly cycle, not $108.3 million in one, massive chunk of money.
Risking their lives to save others, the “surf men” who toiled at the U.S. Life-Saving Station 30 faced possible serious injury or death each time they rushed out to rescue shipwreck survivors off the Ocean City coast. Hoping to distill history down on a more personal level, the Life-Saving Station Museum is trying to build dossiers on all of the surf men from 1872 to 1915 – in effect, bringing them back to life so that museum visitors will understand exactly what they did long ago. The museum is asking for the public's help for more information on the 62 men.
Aesthetically speaking, Ocean City’s Sports and Civic Center isn’t likely to win any architectural awards anytime soon, if ever, for beauty. Its drab, utilitarian appearance is reminiscent of a warehouse. Yet the building plays an important role in the city’s sports scene and as the venue for special events, including festivities for the family-friendly First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve. Hoping to turn it into a bigger, more functional facility, the city is planning to sink $2.2 million into the building this year for an expansion project and facelift.
Delivering a dose of good news to homeowners, Mayor Jay Gillian announced during his annual State of the City address Thursday night that there will be no increase in local property taxes in the 2019 municipal budget. Gillian also used his speech to tout the city’s strong financial condition and an ambitious five-year capital plan that proposes more than $100 million in spending for an array of infrastructure projects from the beach to the bay to the Boardwalk. “As we begin a new year, I want to thank you all for working together to make Ocean City a truly exceptional place to live, work and play,” he told members of City Council. “I’m proud to report: The state of Ocean City is stronger than ever.”