By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Sea Isle City conducts an online lottery each year to randomly select the winners for the 112 berths in the town’s kayak storage facility at the Dealy Field recreation complex.
Traditionally, the kayak storage racks are among the most sought-after prizes in town. They are conveniently located next to the city’s fishing pier and kayak launch site overlooking the bay near 60th Street and are free to use.
But the free part will change starting in 2024. City Council introduced an ordinance Tuesday to impose a new $75 annual fee on kayak owners using the storage facility. A public hearing and final vote on the ordinance are scheduled for the Dec. 26 Council meeting.
City Solicitor Paul Baldini explained that revenue generated by the $75 fee will help to defray Sea Isle’s cost for maintaining the storage facility as well as the kayak launch site.
“The idea is to recover some of that cost,” he said in an interview after the Council meeting.
Crowded with upscale homes, Sea Isle’s bayfront offers few places where kayakers, paddleboarders and anglers have public access to the water. When Sea Isle built the nearly $1 million fishing pier and kayak launch facility in 2021, the project gave the public a prime location to enjoy the back bays.
The Boardwalk-style pier extends 132 feet out into the water, providing kayakers, paddleboarders and anglers easy access to the bay. The facility is also handicap-accessible.
Demand is so heavy for the kayak storage facility that the city has been conducting an online lottery the past three years to randomly select which owners will get to use the 112 berths.
Capable of handling kayaks of virtually any size, the storage facility is available from May 1 to Oct. 31. After Oct. 31, owners are supposed to remove their kayaks for the off-season. However, three kayaks were still at the storage facility on Tuesday.
In addition to approving a $75 annual fee for the kayak storage racks, Sea Isle officials are separately discussing whether to begin charging pickleball players a fee for using the city’s courts.
“Not yet. It’s being reviewed,” Councilman William Kehner said of the possibility of pickleball fees.
Sea Isle has seven outdoor pickleball courts on 42nd Street and two more on West Jersey Avenue. They are currently free to use and quite often are filled to capacity during the peak summer tourism season.
In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, Council approved a shared services agreement with Cape May County for snowplowing this winter.
Under the agreement, Sea Isle’s municipal snowplows will take charge of clearing Landis Avenue and John F. Kennedy Boulevard, two key arteries that are county roads.
In the past, the city operated on an informal basis to ensure county roads were salted and plowed by municipal equipment when the need arose.
But the new shared services agreement will formalize the operation so that Sea Isle will be reimbursed at a rate of $162 per hour, per truck, for any snowplowing, salting or brining services it provides on county roads, according to a copy of the agreement.
Sea Isle had a similar agreement with the county for snowplowing in the winter of 2022-2023.
Mayor Leonard Desiderio explained last year that Sea Isle is in a better position to respond more quickly and effectively when a snowstorm occurs because it already has snowplows in town, instead of having to wait for the county’s plow trucks to arrive.
The shared services agreement was considered a pilot program to start in 2022. City officials indicated that Sea Isle and the county would continue to do it in years to come if it proved successful to start.