By Donald Wittkowski
One boat slip. One parking pass.
A proposed compromise pending approval by Sea Isle City officials will limit boat owners who rent slips at the municipal marina to one parking pass for their cars or trucks.
For years, an “unwritten rule” allowed boaters to have two parking passes for the summer season, city officials said. The passes gave boaters the convenience of using highly coveted bayfront parking spaces next to the marina on 42nd Place without having to pay for the privilege.
Boaters said the parking passes were included in the cost of their slip rentals, so they really weren’t for free.
The city decided this year to crack down on alleged abuses with the parking passes. There are reports that some boat owners have widely shared the passes with friends, family members and neighbors instead of using them exclusively for their own cars and trucks.
Mayor Leonard Desiderio said he was told by one boat owner that she has saved her parking passes for the past five years. Boat owners are supposed to throw out the old passes when they get new ones each year.
“It appeared she had five parking space permits when she really only had one,” Desiderio said of the boat owner who kept the old passes.
City Council is expected to approve a compromise plan that will give boaters one parking pass for each slip they rent instead of two passes.
“I do see it as being fair,” Council President Jack Gibson said of the parking proposal.
Gibson said he knows of a few boaters who rent two slips, so in those cases they would be given two parking passes.
Council is scheduled to vote on the parking plan during its meeting this Saturday. Normally, Council meets on Tuesdays, but the special Saturday session at 9 a.m. coincides with the city’s annual Community Day celebration.
The parking controversy surfaced when boat owners appeared during the April 23 Council meeting to complain that the city had threatened to take away their parking passes. They said they learned of the plan only after they had already paid for their boat slips for the 2019 summer season.
“It’s as underhanded as it gets,” Joe Bonjorno, an Ocean View resident who has rented a boat slip at the marina for about 20 years, told Council.
“It’s sneaky,” added Kathy Flynn, a Sea Isle resident who also rents a boat slip.
Bonjorno could not be reached for comment on the city’s compromise proposal. Flynn said she is “very happy” with the plan to give boaters one parking pass.
The marina has 87 slips and can accommodate boats ranging in size from 18 to 35 feet long. Depending on the size of the boats, fees range from $1,530 to $3,100 per slip from April to November.
Without the parking passes, the boat owners would have to do the same thing as the rest of the public – pay for their parking at the meters or kiosks. Another option for them would be to buy a $200 parking sticker that is good for the entire summer.
During the April 23 meeting, Councilman Frank Edwardi Jr. said there has been an “unwritten rule” for years that boat slip renters are entitled to two parking passes at the marina. He noted that his father, Frank Edwardi Sr., who oversees the marina as the city’s harbormaster, was the one who gave out the parking passes.
The Council members indicated they were interested in a “prompt resolution” of the controversy. Edwardi threw his support behind the idea for a new ordinance to continue giving the boat owners their parking passes.
Instead of an ordinance, Council is expected to approve a resolution Saturday to formalize the parking plan. Gibson explained that the resolution will take effect immediately for the summer season, compared to the longer process of introducing and approving an ordinance.
Gibson said the Council members never intended to rescind the parking privileges of boaters while discussing the compromise plan.
“We were sympathetic to not seeing it changed,” he said.