By Donald Wittkowski
Sea Isle City is giving itself a multimillion-dollar makeover.
The most popular parts of town will become even more inviting with the help of a series of capital improvements for the Promenade, beaches and downtown business district.
City Council approved a $4.4 million bond ordinance Tuesday to finance the projects, which will include decorative lighting to liven up the Promenade and more handicap-accessible beach mats to reduce the burden of trudging through deep sand.
Altogether, the capital improvements will help Sea Isle remain a safe and attractive vacation haven for its residents and tourists, the Council members said.
“Sea Isle is a premier resort destination, so we’re trying to keep up with the times,” Councilwoman Mary Tighe said.
The funding package also includes money for road construction, bayfront dredging and a flood-warning system to prevent motorists from straying into stormwaters.
While the focus is on Sea Isle’s two-legged inhabitants, the bond ordinance will also benefit the four-legged creatures in town. It includes $25,000 in seed money to begin the planning for the city’s first dog park, although a location still must be selected.
The most expensive project is a plan to spend $1.6 million for new lighting that will brighten up the oceanfront Promenade walkway as well as the downtown business district.
“The lighting is decorative, so it’s going to spruce up town a little bit,” Tighe said.
The new lighting will be similar to the black, Victorian-style street lamps that illuminate the John F. Kennedy Boulevard entranceway and some of the blocks along Landis Avenue in the heart of downtown.
On the Promenade, new lighting is planned between 35th and 44th streets. The city has been jazzing up the Promenade with new lights to make the tourist hub both safer and more visually appealing.
The city will also continue with its program to add more street lighting along the Landis Avenue corridor and other commercial hubs in town.
Meanwhile, the new bond ordinance also includes $102,000 to buy more of the popular “Mobi-Mats” that make it easier for everyone – especially senior citizens or people with disabilities – to enjoy the beaches without having to plod all the way through the thick, powdery sand.
The non-slip mobility mats lie on top of the sand, providing an easier transition from the gravel pathways over the dunes to the beaches.
“That’s one of the things that we constantly hear about,” Tighe said of the requests the city gets from the public for more beach mats.
Already, the mats have been placed at intervals of about every three blocks on the beaches between 29th and 91st streets. They are also used at six handicap-accessible beaches at 32nd Street, 40th Street, JFK Boulevard, 44th Street, 63rd Street and 85th Street.
Ultimately, the city’s goal is to have the mats on every beach. The $102,000 in funding for new Mobi-Mats will help buy more of them for the 2019 summer season.
Sea Isle is also looking to enhance its bayfront. The bond ordinance includes $512,000 for dredging projects along the lagoons and back bay. Tighe said the project will concentrate on the municipal marina at the base of the JFK bridge, but will also include dredging in other areas.
The city last dredged the marina area about five years ago, Tighe noted. The new dredging project is part of its regular maintenance to keep the marina attractive to boaters, she said.
Safety-related improvements in the bond ordinance include a series of road construction and drainage projects citywide.
Sea Isle also has plans for a $160,000 flood-warning system that is billed as the largest of its kind for any town in New Jersey. It will consist of 56 flashing road signs scattered across town, in areas most vulnerable to flooding, to prevent motorists from driving into stormwater.
Sea Isle, a low-lying barrier island, struggles with flooding even during moderate rain storms. The warning system would give motorists advance notice of flooding based on storm conditions and the weather forecast.