I’m happy to report that our Community Services team has had some good success in securing COVID-19 vaccination appointments for Ocean City seniors. Vaccine supplies remain low, and going online to try to find an available appointment has been extremely frustrating for everybody.
Our new team is familiar with the various online scheduling systems and ready to do the searching on behalf of our seniors. We were able to get about 40 Ocean City residents vaccinated this week. I would like to see everybody who is currently eligible receive a timely vaccination.
The team has no special access, and there’s no guarantee for anybody. But if you live in Ocean City, are currently eligible and would like assistance, call 609-399-6111 or stop by City Hall, the Community Center or the 46th Street Welcome Center. Don’t stop looking for an appointment on your own, but let us see if we can help you.
As of this week, Ocean City owns the Palmer Center properties near the Community Center. This is an important step in protecting two entire city blocks in the Third Ward from development and creating a public use corridor from 15th Street to 20th Street.
We now own the paved lot along 16th Street next to the playing field, and one corner of the car dealership lot across from the CVS. The city paid $5.6 million into the court. That is based on the appraised value of the property as of the declaration of taking in June 2020. The final cost is still to be determined by the court, and there are environmental issues still to be resolved. But the property is ours.
We were prepared in December to do the same thing with the Klause property that makes up the rest of the block. But a title search found additional lien holders. We are amending our court filings, and we now expect to move forward by the end of March. This has been a long process, but everybody will benefit from seeing open space there and not more housing.
At last night’s City Council meeting, City Solicitor Dottie McCrosson reported on New Jersey’s new laws related to recreational marijuana. The laws prohibit the use of marijuana in public and by minors. But the laws make enforcement extremely difficult, and in some cases, police officers themselves could be charged criminally if they get it wrong.
I know police throughout the state are working to establish more reasonable provisions, and they have my full support. I have absolute respect for the will of our state’s voters and for appropriate legislation relative to the legal use of marijuana. But unhindered use on our beaches and boardwalk, and widespread use by minors, would be devastating to our community and to our reputation as “America’s Greatest Family Resort.” That is my issue and what I addressed at last night’s meeting.
There will be many opportunities for the public to express their support or opposition to a proposed wind energy project off the coast of southern New Jersey, starting this spring when a public comment and review period is likely to open during a two-year review period. I will continue to provide information and updates to the public as this process continues, and our Environmental Commission will research and report accurate information on the pros and cons of the project. I believe it is important that any action we take be guided by fact.
Michele and I would like to extend our condolences to the Pileggi family on the passing of Don Pileggi. Don supervised the Youth Center in town for eight years and worked in our Recreation Department for 28 years. His wife, Angela, was city clerk for more than 30 years, and his son Don Jr. is a city employee.
Don was one of our local legends. He came up with a variety of surfing contests and started the Ocean City Surfing Association in the mid-1960s when the sport was just taking off in other towns. But his legacy extends far beyond the surf. His life meant a lot to many different people in town.
Mayor Jay A. Gillian