Authors Posts by Donald Wittkowski

Donald Wittkowski

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City Council Takes First Vote For Proposed Public Safety Building

In the first formal vote for the project, City Council introduced a bond ordinance Thursday night to pay for architectural design services for Ocean City’s proposed $35 million public safety building. The $1.1 million bond ordinance will allow the city to work with an architect to design the building’s exterior and interior features and also nail down the development cost. City Business Administrator George Savastano said the $35 million price tag is a preliminary estimate based on conceptual plans for the project. The hiring of an architect will allow the city to “drill down” on the cost before Council is asked to approve another ordinance sometime in the future to fund the building’s construction, Savastano explained.

N.J. Inmate Release Draws Senator’s Anger

More than 2,000 inmates were released in New Jersey on Wednesday in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state prison system, but one state senator accused Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration of endangering the public by letting some “violent criminals” back on the streets. Some of the prisoners have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a New Jersey Department of Corrections internal memorandum that was publicly disclosed by state Sen. Michael Testa, a Republican representing Cape May and Cumberland counties and parts of Atlantic County.

Ocean City Proposes $35 Million Public Safety Building

Mayor Jay Gillian unveiled plans Saturday for a new $35 million public safety building that would combine Ocean City’s police, fire, emergency management and municipal court operations in one complex. “It’s the right place. It’s the right time,” Gillian said of the proposed project in remarks during a town hall meeting at the Ocean City Tabernacle to present conceptual plans to the public.

Ocean City Grows Clams — Not For Food, But to Protect...

Think of clams and what usually comes to mind? Clams casino? Clam chowder? Linguini with clams, perhaps? While clams are normally associated with our culinary delights, a much lesser known aspect about these squishy denizens of the bay is the critical role they play in the marine eco-system. In the science world, clams are known for their uncanny ability to cleanse the bay waters by filtering out potentially harmful microscopic plants and animals, bacteria and viruses. They are also helpful in removing excess nitrogen from the water to prevent toxic algae blooms from forming, experts say. Hoping to capitalize on the environmental benefits of clams, Ocean City officials gathered at the Bayside Center at 520 Bay Avenue on Friday to celebrate the opening of a shellfish incubator that will prove critical to maintaining a healthy eco-system in the surrounding bay waters.

Dredging Project Targets Ocean City Lagoons

Ocean City’s next round of dredging will get underway soon following the award of a nearly $1 million contract to clear out some of the sediment-clogged lagoons lining the back bays. The city has been spending millions of dollars in the past few years for an ambitious dredging program to deepen the channels and lagoons. In some cases, the muddy sediment is so thick that boaters are unable to navigate through the water at low tide. The next phase of dredging will target a series of lagoons in need of maintenance to keep them in good shape. They include Snug Harbor, Glen Cove, Sunny Harbor and South Harbor.

Ocean City’s Housing Agency Turns $372,000 Annual Profit

Ocean City’s public housing agency reported Tuesday that it turned a $372,000 profit in fiscal 2020, solidifying a financial turnaround that began three years ago in the aftermath of an embezzlement scandal involving its former chief executive. The hiring of a new executive director, the appointment of new board members and a series of financial and operational reforms starting in 2017 are credited with helping to fix the Ocean City Housing Authority’s shaky existence.

Dogs Have Their Day on Ocean City’s Beach

Dennis Couch and his wife, LeAnne Beil, decided Sunday morning that they would jump in their car and make the three-hour drive from their home in Mechanicsburg, Pa., to Ocean City. They were anxious to see the Jersey Shore on a beautiful fall day, but actually their trip had more to do with treating the two other members of their family – their dogs Harley and Lily – to some new scenery. “This is their first time on the beach,” Beil explained as Harley and Lily wagged their tails and panted in excitement. Although dogs are banned on Ocean City’s beaches during the peak summer tourism season, they are allowed to romp on the sand from Oct. 1 to April 30 provided they are on a leash and their owners clean up any messes.

Ocean City Officials Pledge Help For Flood-Prone Area

James Dambach recalls the time that surfers went zipping by in front of his Ocean City house. Another time, there were kids floating on inflatable rafts. Dambach, 67, a retired Philadelphia police lieutenant, doesn’t live in an oceanfront or bayfront home. His house at 14th Street and Haven Avenue is landlocked. Most of the time, it’s landlocked. During storms, Haven Avenue is swamped with floodwater – so much so that kids occasionally float by on rafts or surfers are pulled on their boards while tethered to pickup trucks driving down the street, he said. Dambach was among a dozen residents who attended an hour-long public meeting Saturday organized by Third Ward Councilman Jody Levchuk to discuss local issues. When Levchuk opened the floor to residents, they urged him and other city officials to solve the flooding problems that occur on Haven Avenue and West Avenue in the area between 14th and 17th streets.

No Toll Increase in Bridge Commission’s 2021 Budget

The agency that oversees the five toll bridges connecting Cape May County’s seashore towns along the Ocean Drive approved a 2021 operating budget Thursday that does not include a fare increase for motorists. The Cape May County Bridge Commission has discussed the possibility of raising the $1.50 toll off and on for the past three years, but has held the line so far. In the past, the commission has indicated that a toll increase will be required at some point to help Cape May County finance a major capital construction program, including the possible replacement of the aging Townsends Inlet and Middle Thorofare bridges. However, Karen Coughlin, the commission’s executive director, explained during the monthly board meeting Thursday that the agency has not had any discussions recently about raising tolls for 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats Casey, Sciarra Seeking Freeholder Seats

Democrats Liz Casey and Brendan Sciarra are pushing for change on a Cape May County freeholder board completely controlled by Republicans. Heading toward the Nov. 3 election, they have made that the central theme of their campaign while seeking the two open seats this year on the five-member body that oversees county government. They outline their priorities and campaign strategy in an interview.