The Ocean View rest stop in Cape May County is the southernmost service plaza on the Garden State Parkway.


The recent decision to name the Garden State Parkway’s Ocean View service plaza in honor of movie star Bruce Willis is being panned by critics in Cape May County.

Pointing to Willis’ nebulous ties to Cape May County, government officials want the Parkway’s southernmost service plaza dedicated instead in honor of a military veteran or a community leader from the county.

The Cape May County Board of Commissioners, the county’s governing body, passed a resolution at its meeting Tuesday calling on the agency that operates the Parkway to reconsider Willis’ selection.

The resolution urges the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to instead “strongly consider” dedicating the Ocean View rest stop to a local veteran or county community leader.

“I have nothing against Bruce Willis personally. I think he’s a fine actor. I’m sorry that he’s ill. But I don’t believe that a rest stop in Cape May County should be recognizing and honoring Bruce Willis,” Leonard Desiderio, director of the Board of Commissioners, said in an interview Tuesday.

Desiderio, who also serves as mayor of Sea Isle City, the beach town located only a few miles from the Ocean View plaza, said he knows of no connection between Willis and Cape May County or of the actor doing anything to benefit the county.

He believes it would be more appropriate to dedicate the Ocean View plaza in honor of a local veteran or community leader, although he did not reveal any possible names.

Desiderio made it clear that he did not want the plaza dedicated to any Cape May County politicians.

“Not a politician,” he said in the interview.

Cape May County Board of Commissioners Director Leonard Desiderio, who is also Sea Isle City’s mayor, wants the rest stop named in honor of a veteran or community leader in the county.

New Jersey Highway Authority spokesman Tom Feeney declined to comment Wednesday on Cape May County’s resolution.

Although it seems Willis does not have any notable ties to Cape May County, he does have strong connections to Salem County, N.J.

Before achieving stardom on the TV show “Moonlighting” and in the “Die Hard” action movies franchise, he grew up modestly in Carneys Point, Salem County, and attended Penns Grove High School.

His long film career came to an end in 2023 when his family announced that the 69-year-old actor was diagnosed with a form of dementia.

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority announced in February that the Ocean View plaza would be named in Willis’ honor. Originally, the late novelist Toni Morrison was supposed to have the Ocean View plaza dedicated in her honor, but the authority was unable to get permission from her estate, so Willis was chosen instead.

Initially, the Turnpike Authority commissioners voted in July 2021 to adopt a memorandum of understanding allowing the New Jersey Hall of Fame to rename the Parkway’s nine service plazas in honor of Hall of Fame inductees in the arts, entertainment and sports. Willis is a Hall of Fame inductee.

When plans to dedicate the Ocean View plaza in Morrison’s honor fell through, the authority voted in February to amend the memorandum of understanding with the Hall of Fame to rename it for Willis.

Now comes the Cape May County Board of Commissioners resolution calling for another name change at Ocean View. Desiderio said that at the very least he wants to “start a discussion” about having the service plaza dedicated in honor of a Cape May County veteran or community leader.

“We have veterans, we have other people in Cape May County,” he said. “This is the first rest stop coming into Cape May County via the Parkway and I think that people from Cape May County should be considered.”

The Ocean View service plaza includes a Sunoco gas station.