Some condominium owners in Wildwood, N.J., near the Boardwalk’s southern end, are not happy campers since the city announced plans to possibly allow access on the wide beaches to recreational vehicles.
“To use Cresse Avenue as egress for the RVs to come on and off (the beach) is not going to work,” Mike McCardy, an Ocean Towers condominium owner told the Cape May Herald. “There is too much traffic, there are too many children, there’s too many people. It’s going to create a public safety hazard.”
McCardy voiced concerns about allowing beach access to recreational vehicles during the June 27 City Commissioners’ meeting.
“We’re not here for campgrounds. It’s going to be an RV park, which is trailers. There is plenty of support within our community that we want to work with the city to find an amicable solution to not have RVs parked in front of us.”
McCardy also stated if an “amicable solution” could not be reached the condominium association would petition the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as well as filing an injunction to stop recreational vehicles from accessing the beach at Cresse Avenue.
In many places throughout the city vehicular access to the beach is limited by the width of openings. Cresse Avenue, however, allows trucks and other large vehicles to be taken onto the beach. According to Mayor Ernest Troiano, over 200 tractor-trailers used during the recent Kenny Chesney concert were brought onto the beach via Cresse Avenue.
“We want to work with the city to make everybody happy,” said McCardy. “But make no mistake, there is enough support within our community to hire a study and file an injunction against the city for the allowed use. We don’t want them. We want them on the southern side of the Convention Center.”
McCardy told commissioners the southern end of the city is a residential area. “We are residential. It’s more residential than towards the center where the piers are.”
“All the hotels across Ocean Avenue are not residential,” responded Troiano. “They are commercial.”
The city is looking at the possibility of bringing recreational vehicles on its beaches to help generate revenue.
According to McCardy, allowing RV access to the beach via Cresse Avenue would cause assessments of the Ocean Towers condominiums to decrease, thereby decreasing revenue to the city. “That will offset any money that the city would see from this project.”
“Everyone complains about their taxes and everyone wants their taxes lowered. We need to try and generate revenue. We have an expansive beach out there that is just a barren waste of money,” said the mayor. “I can assure you of one thing. We know Cresse Avenue like the back of our hand. I do understand everyone’s concerns. We have an obligation to keep taxes down.”
Commissioner Peter Byron said of the city’s conversations with the state, the state has been supportive of the idea.
“They were very enthusiastic,” said Byron. “We had a pretty positive conversation with the state.”
According to Boardwalk Inspector Christopher Fox, recreational vehicles on the beach may be a sporadic event. Fox said the total number of RVs on the beach might total between 20 and 40.
“It’s not the city that’s doing it,” said Fox. “It’s the management company that won the bid for the beach.” Fox said plans for bringing recreational vehicles to the beach is part of that company’s plan.
“They have a lot of real good ideas,” said Fox. “They’re going to have an actual surf beach down there.”
The city has looked at various ways of making its biggest draw – its beach, as a means of making money. While Wildwood prides itself on its free beaches, the need to support those beaches and the infrastructure needed to maintain them as well as the increased public services for thousands of visitors is draining the city’s coffers.
Last year found businesses, property owners and beachgoers alike in an uproar when the city researched the idea of beach tags.
According to Fox, keeping beaches free meant the city had to look at other revenue options.
“We sat down and said ‘Let’s create a beach plan,’” said Fox. “Maybe we could have beach bars where they could be served drinks at tables, like club. All these ideas went out and at the end of it we decided why not put it out to bid and the whoever company is that wins the bid will take the beach and put the things that we have established that they can do,” Fox told the Herald. “With that, came the RVs.”
Fox said the state DEP had no problem with RVs on the beach. “It had no problems whatsoever. They thought it was a great idea.”
The city’s plan to the state included entrance to the beach for recreational vehicles, with RVs being parked on the beach in front of Ocean Towers.
“They (the state) said they wanted to give us approval for everything else but the Ocean Towers people are complaining. What can you do to rectify this?” said Fox.
In response to the state’s request to move the RV area, it was moved from Cresse Avenue. “We now started the RVs at Leaming Avenue and they go down to Taylor Avenue,” said Fox. Access to the beach, however, will remain at Cresse Avenue. The entranceway to the beach at Cresse Avenue is city-owned property.
“The only thing tying us up now is Ocean Towers,” said Fox.
“We’re creating revenue,” said Fox. “They don’t want beach tags, so we are trying to come up with creative ways to bring revenue into the city to help offset taxes.”