At last night’s City Council meeting, the administration addressed several important issues. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend, as I am battling a case of pneumonia. I would like, however, to stress some key points.
First I would like to address the city budget and the library budget. I want everyone to know that the volunteer library board does a great job, and I appreciate all of the hard work they put into the operation of the library. I personally would like to thank Jen Shirk, who has chaired the board for a couple of years now and led the board through the difficult time following the passing of Chris Maloney.
At the last council meeting, I failed to explain library funding — how tax dollars go directly to the library, a budget is approved, a contingency is added on and the remainder is returned to the taxpayers. By no means was I pointing blame at anyone. I was frustrated we could not bring council a budget with a true zero percent increase. I hope that no one took my comments personally and I want the public to understand the way the library financing operates. Our strong ratable base allows our library to be the best in the state and we are all very proud of the programs and services they offer.
Additionally, the administration last night recommended taking a breath on the concept of coastal cottages to make sure this is a direction the city wants to take. The idea behind coastal cottages was to provide an opportunity for more people to live year-round in Ocean City in single-family homes. And it’s been a success. The project is nearly complete, and from what I am told, the homes are being purchased by families who plan to live here year-round. But as in most good things, sometimes you need to stop and assess the progress.
Ocean City is made up of many different kinds of neighborhoods, and we want to make sure that coastal cottages become a valuable addition and not the new normal. The administration and city planners will take the time to consider all the outcomes related to coastal cottages before moving forward. We need some time to assess the neighborhood to possibly refine the ordinance, leave it as it is and bring it back to Council, or possibly not take future action.
The City was notified today that Comcast will be closing the local payment center presently located off of Tennessee Avenue behind the golf course. The payment center will be closed by March 28 as Comcast will be opening a regional store at Consumer Square on Wrangleboro Road in Mays Landing. The local office closure is currently being reviewed by the NJ Board of Public Utilities.
Finally, I would like to congratulate all of Ocean City’s student-athletes who have continued their remarkable streaks of success this winter. But I’d particularly like to recognize the Ocean City High School girls’ varsity swim team, which recently won the state Group B championship. We’ll honor the swim team at a later date, but for now, let me just say that you’ve represented Ocean City well. All of our teams continue to make Ocean City proud.
Jay A. Gillian