By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
After being slowed down by some supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Sea Isle City’s new bayfront recreation attraction is back on track and heading for completion by the end of the year.
Virtually all of the wood piles that serve as the footing for the new fishing pier and kayak launch site have been installed. Now, the Boardwalk-style structure is taking shape, city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said.
“The contractor is making progress,” she said of EZ Docks South of Ocean View, the low bidder for the nearly $1 million attraction.
Sea Isle originally had hoped to have the project finished by late summer or early fall, but the pandemic disrupted the flow of construction materials, pushing back the completion date, Custer explained.
“We had some supply chain delays due to COVID. We’ve also had some bad weather days,” she said. “But we’re still on track for completion by the end of 2020.”
The contractor’s construction schedule also was limited by the bay tides while installing the piles. A high tide was needed to float the barge that served as the platform for the pile-driving machinery, Custer said.
“The vast majority of the piles have been driven now,” she said.
For months, the city has been teasing the project with a large sign at the site that includes an architectural rendering accompanied by the words, “Coming soon … Opening in 2020.”
Sea Isle received a $935,605 grant from Cape May County’s Open Space Board to help pay for the fishing pier and kayak launch site project. EZ Docks South submitted a low bid of $975,550 to win the construction contract.
Mayor Leonard Desiderio has announced that the project will be named in honor of the late Jim Iannone, a former Sea Isle commissioner and member of the Tourism Commission who was a major supporter of the city’s recreation programs.
Extending 132 feet out into the bay, the project will include a fishing pier and a handicap-accessible launch facility for kayaks and paddle boards. There will also be decorative lighting and a “passive pier” featuring a covered pavilion.
City officials envision the passive pier as a quiet location for nature lovers to enjoy the wildlife, bayfront views and sunsets.
“No matter if they are kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, or simply enjoying the abundance of natural beauty that the bay and wetlands offer, everyone can enjoy this new pier – and because the facility will be ADA accessible it gives even more people the opportunity to utilize it,” Custer said.
The project is being built near the bay end of 60th Street behind the Dealy Field athletic and recreation complex. Parking is nearby.
Crowded with upscale homes, Sea Isle’s bayfront offers few places where kayakers, paddle boarders and anglers have public access to the water. The new fishing pier and kayak launch facility will give the public a prime location to enjoy the back bays.
A communitywide survey conducted in 2015 included responses from local residents urging the city to create more access to the bayfront as a way to enhance recreation, including kayaking.
“Countless people have been asking for a place to launch a kayak,” Custer said. “Unless you have access to the bay, you probably don’t have a place to launch a kayak. This project is really going to have a major impact.”