Racks of colorful paint chips are exposed to the elements to test the effects of salt air and harsh weather. (Photo courtesy of Sea Isle City)


For decades, there has been an oddity in Sea Isle City that has prompted endless “What in hell is that?” responses from out-of-towners while passing through the north end of the island.

“People do ask us what those things are,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said.

Without any signs at the site to tell them, they simply had to use their imagination when they saw racks of colorful paint panels exposed to the elements.

However, the quirky paint chip test site on Landis Avenue near Seventh Street will be getting some overdue recognition when Sea Isle installs a new sign to describe the purpose of the outdoor facility.

“Instead of trying to hide it, we’ll put up a sign explaining what it is,” Custer said, noting that this will be a way to create more interest in the site and the research conducted there.

The area is relatively secluded next to the marshlands by Sea Isle’s northern border with Strathmere.

Also known locally as the “paint chip lot,” the site has been used for “many, many years” to test the effects of salt air and harsh weather on paints, coatings and vinyl, Custer said.

Among other research, the site was used to conduct tests for two years on different coatings that could be used to protect steel bridges from corrosion, according to a 2011 report by the Federal Highway Administration.

Currently, Sea Isle leases the city-owned property to Rohm and Hass Chemicals LLC, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co., for $15,000 per year, Custer said.

During a ceremony in November, officials dig shovels into the sand to symbolically start construction on the nearly $1 million dog park.

Meanwhile, the sign that the city plans to erect won’t be the result of any crush of curious tourists rushing out to the scene.

Instead, the paint chip site will be getting more exposure when Sea Isle finishes construction in 2024 on its new dog park next door to the research facility.

The nearly $1 million dog park will give Sea Isle’s four-legged residents and visitors their own exclusive playground in the shore community.

Amenities will include doggy obstacles, water fountains and a safe, fenced-in environment for all of the canines. There will also be two shade pavilions to keep the dogs nice and cool.

The landscaped park will be configured to have a section for small dogs and a separate area for larger dogs.

Although the focus will be on the dogs, a third shade pavilion will be placed next door to the park to give the human visitors refuge from the sun and heat. It will also be a place for picnics.

To create room for the dog park’s construction, racks of paint chips from the test facility were moved a little farther south down Landis Avenue.

Custer stressed that dog owners should have no fear of having the paint chip facility located next door to the park. She noted that the types of paints being tested there are “no different” than the paints used on homes.

“This isn’t a toxic test site,” she said.