By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Many of the manmade attractions built by the bay overlook the water’s edge from a fairly safe distance.
However, Sea Isle City’s new fishing pier and kayak launch facility will jut out into the bay an impressive 132 feet.
Just by walking out on the pier, people may get the feeling that they are actually a part of the bayfront environment, not just a casual observer looking from afar.
“We anticipate that this newest recreation facility will be greatly utilized and give people much desired access to the bay,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said.
The nearly $1 million project is taking shape near the bay end of 60th Street behind the Dealy Field recreation and athletic complex. It is expected to be completed this fall, but a grand opening date has not yet been announced.
The Boardwalk-style structure will include a fishing pier and a handicap-accessible launch facility for kayaks and paddle boards. Parking is nearby.
The project will also include 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.
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.
Sea Isle has 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 of Ocean View submitted a low bid of $975,550 and was awarded the construction contract.
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.”
“I do not have an exact completion date. However, we anticipate that it will be finished this autumn,” Custer said. “Hopefully Mother Nature will supply us with favorable weather that will help keep the construction project on track.”