A COLD START
Forget about autumn. Winter got off to a roaring start in early December, completely ignoring the fact that winter was still a couple weeks away. Temperatures through Christmas day were averaging six degrees below normal for December in Cape May County. But there is some good news: less than an inch of snow had fallen until the 17" that arrived the day after Christmas. Let's hope that's all we get.
The snowbirds have good reason to head south to Florida for the winter. For the rest of us, we can at least have some satisfaction knowing that the daylight hours are already getting longer and we have a good excuse to become couch potatoes for a few months.
WEST WILDWOOD RECALL
Let's get the latest West Wildwood recall news out of the way.
The December 11th recall vote failed to unseat Mayor Herb Frederick by a narrow vote of 177 to 171 and Commissioner Gerard McNamara by a slimmer 176 to 174 tally. And yes, there was a recount and those are the final totals.
From our prospective, the bottom line is that such a close election shows how divided the borough is and this election won't change a thing. The Hatfield's and McCoy's bickering will continue.
The recall of the other commissioner, their political opponent Scott Golden, is slated for January 11th. Golden is still trying to have that election overthrown. Stay tuned.
ROUTE 52 CAUSEWAY
Talk about backpedaling.
Just 48 hours after the New Jersey Dept of Transportation announced that the Route 52 Causeway that takes traffic from Garden State Parkway Exits 31 and 30 and Somers Point to Ocean City at 9th Street would be closing for a two or three months, they changed their minds. Business owners in the north end of Ocean City voiced their displeasure and the state listened.
With the $400 million project behind schedule to replace four antiquated, low bridges - one a draw bridge - with two two-lane bridges spanning 55 feet above the water, the closing of the Causeway was a chance to catch up and not impact summer traffic. They planned to divert traffic to the Ocean City-Longport Bridge and the Roosevelt Boulevard/34th Street bridge to get on the island.
So now the new plan is to reduce traffic to three lanes through July. With 40,000 cars per day using the Causeway in the summertime, the traffic congestion should be a real headache. The construction is supposed to be completed in late 2012. We'll see.
MORE TRAFFIC CONGESTION
You don't normally think of traffic congestion in Cape May Court House in the fall and winter. This year is the exception.
With sewer lines being run parallel to Route 9 on Goshen Road, Dias Creek Road, and Shunpike, the back-road route that the locals use instead of Route 9 was closed. This forced locals onto Route 9 and traffic backed up at every traffic light for up to a half mile each afternoon.
Locals put up with traffic congestion from Memorial Day to Labor Day, with the rest of the year a refreshing breather. Here's hoping that the sewer project will end soon.
ONLY IN WILDWOOD
When the Wildwood City Commissioner team became Gary DeMarzo, Al Brannen and Chip Harshaw, DeMarzo took the mayoral reins. In a prearranged deal, Brannen was to get the mayoral post in August, 2010. Well, that didn't happen.
Then in the fall, Brannen and Harshaw voted to have Brannen become mayor as of December 15. DeMarzo also voted for the move. But, in a recent last minute turnabout, DeMarzo and Harshaw turned the tables and voted to keep DeMarzo as mayor.
Aren't politics great?!!!
CAPE MAY ENERGY TUSSLE
Cape May is a world renowned tourist destination. The draw, obviously, is the 800 Victorian buildings. It gives folks a sense of a bygone era at the turn of the 20th century, when horse-drawn carriages, gas lights, and no show bathing suits ruled the day.
The city has so many Victorian homes because in 1878 a large fire consumed 30 city blocks. The rebuild was almost exclusively Victorian architecture.
Fast forward to 2010. Solar panels and wind-mills are America's answer to curtailing its destructive addiction to oil and coal. But in historic Cape May, solar panels are only permitted when they can't be seen from the street.
The city's National Historic Landmark status, plus tourist dollars, has residents and officials trying to find a common ground. As the Historic Preservation Committee and the Environmental Commission - which are at odds over the issue - position themselves to each plead their case, the city's residents will line up on the side they most agree with. It should make an interesting winter of debate.
STONE HARBOR WATER RATES
The Borough of Stone Harbor has plenty of irate residents complaining about their latest water bills. It seems that the water utility approved retroactive rate increases and many folks weren't prepared.
One resident received a quarterly bill of $1,250. Another got hit for $1,064, which was just $64 less than she paid for the entire year of 2009. The topper was the Villa Maria seaside resort, which was blindsided by a $5,900 quarterly water bill.
All's not well in Tinseltown. Sure, Stone Harbor is affluent, but these bills are exorbinant even for them. We'll have to see how this plays out.
WILDWOOD REJECTS VETERANS
The city of Wildwood's planning/zoning board wisely rejected a plan by 411 Taylor LLC to use seven four-bedroom homes on West Taylor Avenue to house five or six US veterans each. The neighborhood is zoned residential, under which a household must have one or more people related by marriage or blood.
Residents objections to the plan were based on the fact that these veterans, who are dealing with health, social and economic problems, would not find the help they need in Wildwood or the county.
OUR CLEANING SERVICE
We have found that the most difficult facet of renting units in the summer season here at the shore is finding a reliable company to get the cleaning done between 10am and 3pm on Saturdays. That window of opportunity - between check-outs and check-ins, is inflexible. It's gotta get done.
We have started Timber Lane Cleaning Service to fill that important role. We have a good, experienced staff on board and will continue to hire more to ensure quality, fast, dependable service. Give us a call if you'd like to learn more about Timber Lane Cleaning Service.
JEWELL REAL ESTATE AGENCY
We love to talk about real estate and our island. We're always glad to share our insights, observations, and vision with you.