The oceanfront Promenade serves as a hub for family-friendly activities in Sea Isle City.


Mayor Leonard Desiderio is giving a sneak peek of some of the improvements that will be funded by a nearly $2 million state grant that Sea Isle City has received for repairs and reconstruction of the oceanfront Promenade.

Desiderio said he anticipates the money will be used for structural repairs, additional decorative lighting and more handicap access to the 1.5-mile walkway that stretches from 29th Street to 57th Street.

However, Sea Isle does not plan to build any oceanside pavilions along the Promenade as part of the grant, he said in remarks at the Feb. 27 City Council meeting. He expressed doubt that the state Department of Environmental Protection would even allow the city to place pavilions on the environmentally sensitive beaches or dunes.

City spokeswoman Katherine Custer said Sea Isle officials will meet with the town’s engineer to begin the process of picking and prioritizing specific projects financed by the grant from the state’s newly created Boardwalk Preservation Fund.

“There are a lot of options, and we’re going to put the money where it would do the most good,” Custer said in an interview Friday.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced last week that Sea Isle is one of 18 towns at the Jersey Shore to share in a pool of $100 million from the Boardwalk Preservation Fund.

“Our boardwalks have long been a prized destination and we want to keep them that way by helping shore communities repair and maintain these wooden main streets,” Murphy said in a news release Feb. 23 announcing the grants.

The Promenade is popular with pedestrians and bicyclists.

In Sea Isle’s case, the town has a Promenade made of concrete and asphalt instead of a traditional wooden boardwalk. But the Promenade still qualified for a nearly $2 million grant from the state’s Boardwalk Preservation Fund.

Legislation that created the fund last year originally included only wooden boardwalks, but state Sen. Michael Testa was able to amend it to add promenades like Sea Isle’s. Testa’s First Legislative District includes the shore towns of Cape May County. Desiderio thanked Testa for revising the legislation to add promenades.

The family-friendly Promenade effectively serves as Sea Isle’s boardwalk – a hub for sightseeing, shopping, entertainment, recreation and special events.

In fact, the asphalt and concrete Promenade replaced Sea Isle’s old boardwalk after it was reduced to mangled bits of wood rubble by the colossal Ash Wednesday storm that pummeled the Jersey Shore in 1962. Some of the old-timers in town still refer to the Promenade as “the boardwalk.”

The city has been livening up the Promenade in recent years with new decorative lighting, new benches and a new public address system, among other improvements.

Desiderio said the city plans to add more decorative lighting at both the north and south ends of the Promenade with the new state funding.

He also told members of City Council during their Feb. 27 meeting that Sea Isle wants to make structural repairs to the Promenade, along with creating better handicap access.

The city wants to continue adding decorative lighting to the Promenade to make it more inviting.

City officials have talked about building new handicap-accessible ramps to make it easier for pedestrians and bicyclists to get on the Promenade. The city recently awarded a $298,500 construction contract for new ramps at 51st Street and 53rd Street to replace steep steps up to the Promenade.

Custer explained that structural improvements may include strengthening the bulkheads, resurfacing the walkway with new asphalt or repairing the steps up to the Promenade.

“They’ll make a punch list and prioritize things,” she said of the process for finalizing the projects.

The city plans to prepare the engineering designs this year. Custer said she believes that construction for the projects wouldn’t begin until 2025.

Custer noted that Sea Isle had filed an application seeking significantly more money from the Boardwalk Preservation Fund than the nearly $2 million it is receiving, but she didn’t immediately know how much.

“I understand that our application had a wish list of more than $2 million,” she said.

Under the Boardwalk Preservation Fund, eligible projects have to meet at least one of the following criteria: Construction that adds new boardwalk components, boardwalk maintenance, boardwalk reconstruction, or repair of ancillary or related structures.

Examples of projects include replacement of old and crumbling decking along the boardwalk with resilient, longer-lasting materials; replacement of deteriorating pilings and boardwalk infrastructure; improving access and safety by building ADA-compliant ramps and railings; expanding an existing section of the boardwalk; and providing grant funds to businesses that need to complete upgrades to align with the proposed boardwalk construction, the governor’s news release said.

Shoppers pack the Promenade during the Fall Family Festival in 2023.