Police Chief Jay Prettyman and I tried a different approach to address the complaints that so many towns have received about large groups of young teens on bicycles, riding in a way that poses a threat to themselves and the public. In addition to enforcing laws about unsafe riding with summonses, we also want to recognize safe riding habits by providing a constructive outlet for them.
I’m pleased to announce that the Ocean City Police Department will sponsor a bicycle skills and safety event at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 12 in the Ocean City Civic Center parking lot at Fifth Street and Boardwalk. The event is open to Ocean City youth and students in the Ocean City School District, and registration is at 4 p.m.
The Community Policing Unit will make a bicycle safety presentation. A skills competition will include wheelies and freestyle, with gift cards as prizes for the longest wheelies. Pizza and soda will be provided by the 6th Street Pizza and Grill. All who attend will be entered to win a $1,000 SE Monster Ripper 29” bicycle donated by the Tuckahoe Bike Shop.
The chief and I organized several meetings with a group of parents of the young teens in which we exchanged ideas and concerns. These meetings were very productive and the group agreed to partner with us in planning this event and in promoting safe riding. This is a great example of how the community can work together to solve a problem.
This is certainly not the only thing the city team is doing to address large groups of juveniles creating issues throughout town and on the boardwalk.
In addition to some other changes to our police operations, the chief has restructured duty squads so that more officers are available during peak times of the day and evening, and recalled at least 10 officers to duty each Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
We started our seasonal officers early this year with a good number assigned to the boardwalk on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. With at least 20 more expected to complete training by June 11 and a request for even more seasonal officers pending, our 2021 deployment of seasonal officers will be close to 60, far more than the typical 45.
The chief and two police captains will be assigned to work every weekend this summer with at least one on duty every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. A “Downtown” unit of at least five officers will be tasked with patrolling Asbury Avenue on foot with one focus being to prevent bicycles on sidewalks.
Over the past couple of weeks, several motor vehicle summonses have been issued for unsafe bicycle operations as part of a more aggressive approach to enforcement, and the department is partnering with the school system on an educational program about this issue.
Bicycles are no longer permitted within city playgrounds, and the chief has recommended an ordinance change that would remove bicycles from the boardwalk on weekend nights.
Installing fencing to prevent juveniles from gathering under the boardwalk and adding cameras to help monitor all areas of the boardwalk are additional measures being taken.
I also want to invite everybody to a town hall meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 22 at the Ocean City Tabernacle. The town hall meeting will be designed to educate people about new recreational marijuana laws and the strict guidelines on how they can be enforced. It will outline our plans to address these issues. More detailed information on this event will be available shortly.
Registration for the 66th annual Night in Venice celebration is now open. After missing last year’s event, I know everybody will be excited to get back into the swing of summer.
This year’s optional theme will be “Honoring Our Heroes,” a salute to all those who helped us get through the year. Participants are also welcome to use last year’s planned “Olympics” theme. The post-event fireworks display is also back for this year. More information and registration is available at www.ocnj.us/NIV.
Milling and paving operations on Bay Avenue are expected to take place Monday to Friday (May 10-14) next week. Milling work will start at 31st Street and proceed northward to Eighth Street. At the same time, the repaving of the rough surface of Bay Avenue from Second Street to Sixth Street will take place.
Detours will be in place for both projects, so please plan alternative routes for next week. Striping work is expected during the week of May 17-21, and both of these Cape May County projects are expected to be fully complete before Memorial Day.
Ocean City resident Frank McCormac will turn 100 years old on May 18, and his family is planning a drive-by parade for May 22. McCormac is a decorated World War II veteran who will be among the first residents of the new Speitel Commons senior housing complex when it is completed later this summer. More information on how you can pay tribute to McCormac is available on this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/326968642096859/.
Saturday is Martin Z. Mollusk Day. At 11 a.m. (May 8) on the beach next to the Music Pier, our hermit-crab mascot will seek his shadow and try to preserve his perfect record of more than 40 years in bringing summer a week early Ocean City. Everybody is invited to attend this fun family event.
As many as 500 “muscle cars” will be on display on the boardwalk from Fifth Street to 14th Street from noon until 5 p.m. as part of the Modern Muscle Car Invasion. For more information, visit www.modernmusclecarinvasion.com.
Mayor Jay A. Gillian