SEA ISLE CITY — A group of concerned residents and taxpayers packed council chambers Tuesday morning to publicly denounce an effort by City Council to extend the Sea Isle City Promenade by 65 blocks. But to their delight, their protest was unnecessary.
“I’m here to tell you today that, after discussions with the (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection) and the state, that this proposal is probably dead on arrival,” said Mayor Leonard Desiderio, as the room erupted in applause.
The group of about 30 people, which has a Facebook page titled “Don’t Pave Sea Isle’s Dunes,” believed that the plan would have created an environmental hazard, increased flood insurance premiums and reduced property values.
Vicki Miller, who organized the residents, said after the meeting Tuesday that she was “thrilled” that the proposal was dropped.
“I was surprised that it would happen this fast and was very very happy to see it,” she said.
Miller said that this effort has spurred her to stay involved in Sea Isle government.
“I think that our group now has organized and we’re going to stay vigilant on this and other issues just to see what the city is doing and whether we agree with the proposals that they have from time to time.
“Which is great, because we should be involved,” she said.
Sea Isle City Councilman Jack Gibson proposed the idea at a capital planning workshop last year in an effort to get bicyclists off the streets.
The promenade runs along the beachfront between 29th and 57th streets. Gibson had suggested that it could be extended from 57th to 93rd streets for $400,000, and from 29th to First streets for $300,000.
On Tuesday, Desiderio praised Gibson for “thinking beyond the box.”
“I want to thank Councilman Gibson for stepping up on a very, not-too-popular idea and seeing how far it would go,” he said.
In addition to the promenade announcement, Sea Isle Council heard from engineer Dale Foster on the progress of a project to elevate and widen Sea Isle Boulevard as an evacuation route.
Foster said that the next phase of the project would begin later this week. The $12.73 million road reconstruction will elevate the boulevard 4.5 feet. To date, the county has spent $5.7 million since it started in 2014. The next phase of the project will include paving the northern side of the roadway, rerouting traffic to the north side and beginning the elevation of the southern side of the roadway. Work on this phase must be complete before March 15, when osprey habitat restrictions go into effect until Aug. 15.
“It’s a critical thing that is really extending the schedule of our project,” Foster said.
Council also unanimously approved an ordinance on introduction to adopt a watershed management plan. The plan is part of an effort to reduce flood insurance premiums for homeowners in the city through the Community Rating System. The CRS program is administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s and offers discounts on premiums obtained through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Councilwoman Mary Tighe also asked that the city resume negotiations with Uber to provide service in Sea Isle City.