MARGATE – It was standing room only in the sweltering multi-purpose room at the William H. Ross School Saturday, June 30 as more than 250 homeowners gathered to air grievances and develop a unified voice to be reckoned with.
“Nothing happens without community support,” said newly formed Margate Homeowners Association President Jay Weintraub who’s lived in Margate for 23 years. He said he is about to make his residency in Margate permanent and wants the city to be more inclusive of all property owners, including summer residents.
The town has about 6,000 year-round residents who may be informed about what’s going on in the community, but that number swells to about 40,000 during the summer months, when less informed second homeowners descend on the town, he said.
Although 60 percent of property owners are part-time residents who do not get a chance to vote in local elections, they should have a say in what goes on in the town, he said.
“We want to bring attention to matters that affect our members,” he said.
Those who attended were asked to join the association by filling out a form and sending in the $25 annual fee to help the non-profit organization develop a website, buy insurance, advertise, conduct meetings and keep its membership informed.
Weintraub said it cost about $1,000 to plan the meeting at the Ross School, which included paying the school district’s facility use fee.
Residents took turns at the microphone to express their concerns.
One woman, who said she bought into a lifestyle that would allow her summer home to be a gathering place for her children, grandchildren and friends, called Margate “Mayberry with money.”
In contrast to her statement, another resident said the city lacks a parking plan and that there is not enough parking for those patronizing area businesses. She suggested the city purchase a lot in the commercial district that recently sold at a Sheriff’s sale and turn it into a municipal parking lot.
Yet another suggested installing more bicycle racks in commercial districts.
Several residents said the newly engineered beach is difficult to access for the elderly and those with disabilities, and the city should install Mobi mats at every dune crossover.
Retired pharmacist David Grossman, who is now a permanent resident and the group’s treasurer, said he likes the idea of building a boardwalk.
“I though this is the best forum to get it done,” he said.
Another resident said homeowners pay high taxes but don’t have a say in how the government works.
“That’s taxation without representation. The only way to have a voice is to group together,” she said.
Yet another said the city should do something about the rabbits eating the flowers in her garden.
Weintraub later posted on the group’s Facebook page that the association would immediately address the Mobi mats and bicycle rack issues.
That will likely happen at the next meeting of the Board of Commissioners, which is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thurday, July 5.
Penny Hoffman Bilofsky, who lives in Philadelphia but votes in Margate, said she “hates the beach and outfall pipes,” and that she thinks a boardwalk is a “fabulous” idea.
“I hope this group will be able to be the voice of the people. At commission meetings they may hear from individuals but a larger group like this might be better heard by the city,” she said.
On her walk home from the meeting, new year-round resident Debra Gitto called the meeting “a great beginning” that could give all taxpayers a voice.
“A group with larger number of people will have a voice that will be louder,” she said.
For more information about the Margate Homeowners Association, email firstname.lastname@example.org join them on Facebook.