Ocean City —
Mayor Jay Gillian told the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce on June 14 of his administration’s accomplishments and said businesses should continue to work together for the upcoming summer season.
Gillian, who said he would be marking the midpoint of his term in office since his election in 2010, addressed chamber members at their luncheon meeting at the Flanders Hotel.
The mayor thanked Roy Wagner, John Kemenosh and Karen Bergman, three council members who will be leaving government when the new council reconvenes July 1.
Gillian called Wagner an “advocate” who understands how important it is to maintain the city’s infrastructure and challenged the administration to cut costs.
“He does his homework. That’s all I ask the council members: to do their homework,” Gillian said. “It’s a big loss to the Fourth Ward for Roy to be stepping down.”
The mayor said Kemenosh knows how special Ocean City is.
“He doesn’t have an agenda, he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He always listens and he’s always fair,” Gillian said.
Gillian said Bergman supported the downtown business community and the Second Ward.
“She’s been a part of the Tourism Commission at a time when they’re undertaking the most comprehensive marketing campaign we’ve ever had in Ocean City,” Gillian said. “She gets what the commission’s real mission is and has worked hard to get people over that beautiful bridge.”
The mayor said he’s looking forward to working with the new councilmen.
Gillian said currently it’s “a great time for Ocean City,” with the $500 million new Route 52 causeway, which opened in May, containing fishing piers, walkways and recreational boat ramps. The mayor said a new welcome center is under construction on the causeway and will open before Labor Day.
Gillian stressed the importance of a collaboration between the city and local business community.
“I think the business community needs to stay positive, stay on message and work together and some truly great things will happen,” Gillian said.
Gillian said the city will remain concentrated on improving its infrastructure. He said a drainage project along Wesley Avenue between 26th and on 29th streets rendered beach outfall pipes unnecessary. He said rainwater is collected in underground retention systems rather than draining them through the beaches via outfall pipes.
He said he remains “optimistic” about the chance of a beach replenishment project with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers applying for environmental permits for pumping sand onto the beaches.
The mayor said the city is pursuing a public-private partnership for a public marina at Second Street and Bay Avenue on land the city leases from Cape May County.
“That property combined with the Bayside Center and Route 52 recreation areas gives us public access to the bayfront and all it has to offer,” Gillian said.
Turning towards the downtown, Gillian said he would construct a building on the former city annex site at Ninth Street and Asbury Avenue “if it’s the last thing I do.”
Gillian said he would “include everybody” in the building’s conceptual design. The mayor said the building would be called the “Mark Soifer Downtown Welcome Center” after the city’s director of public relations.
“I hope he’s going to stick around for a long time,” Gillian said of Soifer, who has worked for decades to promote Ocean City through quirky, family-friendly events.
The mayor said the city is trying to improve parking in the downtown by instructing employees to park away from their places of work instead of on Asbury Avenue.
“Everybody thinks you need parking. We have plenty of parking. We just have to re-educate how we do it,” Gillian said.
He pledged to reconstruct the city’s skateboard park, which originally stood on Sixth Street and the Boardwalk but was demolished to make way for municipal parking.
Gillian said the skateboard park will be built near the high school athletic field between Fifth and Sixth streets as part of a recreational facility which will include basketball, pickleball and bocce ball. He said plans will be available for the skateboard park within the next few months.
The mayor noted the Planning Board is reviewing the city’s Master Plan. He said he wanted to see additional opportunities for more single-family residences in Ocean City.
“I’m trying my hardest to figure out how to get single-family homes in Ocean City that work. It’s difficult in Ocean City,” Gillian said.
Gillian said the city will have the “best concert series” this year, following the departure of Richard Stockton College, which left Ocean City in favor of providing concerts for Cape May. He thanked his administration and promoter Bob Rose for the concert lineup this year.
“I know we have the talent in-house to do it,” Gillian said. “We’ve got some amazing groups that will come to the Music Pier this year.”
Slated to perform this summer in Ocean City are Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, the Bacon Brothers, Arlo Gutherie, Charlie Thomas’ The Drifters, Little Feat and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.
Gillian remained upbeat regarding the approaching summer season.
“I think we’re going to have a great year this year,” Gillian said. “We need to work together. I really mean that.”