VENTNOR – Pleased with the interest in serving on the newly formed ad hoc Citizens Advisory Committee, the Board of Commissioners agreed to increase the number of members who can serve.
The commissioners will amend Ordinance 2018-025, which created the ad hoc committee, to include as many as 15 full- and part-time residents. The ordinance was originally approved for nine members with one commissioner serving on a rotating basis.
“We received such an abundance of ‘wow’ letters and resumes and interest,” Mayor Beth Holtzman said. “The backgrounds of the people interested is exciting.”
Commissioner Lance Landgraf said the city received more than 30 written responses expressing interest on serving on the committee.
Increasing the number to 15 will allow additional part-time residents who may not be able to attend all the meetings during the off season to be on the committee, Holtzman said.
A public hearing on the ordinance will be held 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9.
In other business, the board agreed to go out to bid for a streetscape improvement project on Atlantic Avenue in the North Beach commercial district.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Landgraf said.
The city started the design process more than a year ago and met with residents and business owners to come up with the plan, Landgraf said.
Marathon Engineering and Environmental Services was awarded a $69,925 contract last August to design the streetscape improvements along a three-block stretch of Atlantic Avenue between Weymouth and Surrey avenues. The project includes new curbs, sidewalks with brick pavers, streetlights, trees, tree grates, benches, bike racks, and other neighborhood enhancements.
Landgraf said the fully-designed specifications for the job have been approved by the Economic Development Authority, which awarded the city an $800,000 grant for the work.
The grant was awarded through the HUD-funded Stronger NJ Streetscape Revitalization Program for communities in the nine New Jersey counties most impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The city’s grant writer, James Rutala of Rutala Associates of Linwood, applied for the grant in November 2013 during then-Mayor Michael Bagnell’s administration.
Ventnor met the criteria to received up to $1.5 million for the North Beach revitalization project because it is a targeted mixed-use commercial-residential neighborhood and the city lost more than $1 million in ratables as a result of the storm. The grant award came in under the wire as most of the funds were allocated to other communities. However, bids for those jobs came in under budget, freeing up the money for Ventnor.
“There will most likely be some participation from our capital bond so we can get some of the amenities we want there,” Landgraf said.
The city will accept bids in September, and work will be done fall through spring 2019, he said.
The board also heard a proposal from resident Peter Kleiner of PK Media about a public-private partnership that could help generate revenue for the city.
Kleiner said his company could generate between $40,000 and $70,000 a year by selling advertising space on city vehicles, lifeguard stands, banner flags and beachfront street ends.
“There’s 50 blocks of boardwalk banners. Why not sell them for a relatively inexpensive price, first to the local businesses owners and if still available, we could go out further,” he said.
Kleiner said he is sure he could find a real estate firm that would sponsor wrapping the city’s street sweeper with advertising.
“It sounds crazy, but there’s money there,” he said.
Commissioner Tim Kriebel said costs to the city increase each year, but there is rarely an increase in revenue.
The commissioners agreed to meet with Kleiner to further discuss the proposal.