By MADDY VITALE
Sea Isle City offers residents and tourists a lot to do year-round and soon, with a kayak launch site and fishing pier nearing completion, and plans progressing for a new community recreation center, there will be even more reasons to enjoy the resort.
During a remote Recreation Committee meeting Tuesday, Katherine Custer, who oversees Community Services and Recreation, gave an update on both projects.
The new fishing pier and kayak launch facility, under construction near the bay end of 60th Street behind the Dealy Field recreation and athletic complex, will give nature lovers a place to enjoy the bay and wetlands.
“Construction is progressing nicely,” Custer noted in an interview Wednesday. “At this point, workers have been focusing on getting pilings done. That should be completed soon, and it is on target for an autumn completion date.”
She said she was told the process has been going very smoothly and added that the end result will be “great.”
The city is using a $935,605 grant from the Cape May County’s Open Space Board to help pay for the project. EZ Docks South, which is based in Ocean View, was the lowest bidder at $975,550 and was awarded the construction contract.
In addition to the launch site, the project will include decorative lighting and a “passive pier” featuring a covered pavilion.
The Boardwalk-style pier will extend 132 feet out into the bay. Amenities will include a fishing pier and a handicap-accessible launch facility for kayaks and paddleboards, with parking nearby.
“This will give people a greater opportunity to enjoy some of Sea Isle’s greatest assets, the bay and wetlands,” Custer said in a prior interview.
While the fishing pier and kayak launch site are well on their way to completion, a major project to build a facility that will become a venue for recreation and community events is in its initial phases.
Custer told the Recreation Committee that the three-year project to transform the old school site at 4501 Park Road into a multi-use recreation facility and community center is coming along nicely.
The old school, built in the 1970s, closed in 2012 due to Sea Isle’s declining student enrollment. The building is used for office space, storage, recreation and community events, although it has been shut down to the public during the coronavirus pandemic.
A plan to knock down the former school and build an attractive brick building in its place will deliver on providing a larger and updated community recreation facility. It is something that the community asked for in surveys over the last couple of years.
The project is estimated to cost between $13 million and $16 million, but the price is preliminary, officials have said. It would include a large gymnasium, a basketball court, pickleball courts, retractable bleachers and partitions to divide the space for other recreation activities.
The building would also feature a cafeteria, catering kitchen and a 140-seat auditorium for plays and other cultural events as part of its dual role as a community center, as well as meeting space.
“We are still estimating a spring of 2023 ribbon-cutting,” Custer said of the building’s grand opening date. “We are still in the concept plan phase. The initial plan we use as a springboard to create construction documents. We are still in the midst of that, but we feel we are on track as part of the three-year plan to get this building constructed.”