Yes, folks. There will be ice cream on the beaches this summer. What a relief. We thought beachgoers in Margate and Longport would be left high and dry on hot summer days. After all, how much fun is going to the beach without some sandy, sticky, drippy ice cream to enjoy?
Ventnor reported that despite a tenfold increase in the licensing fee to sell ice cream on the beach, veteran ice-cream sellers were stopping by the City Clerk’s office to register for the license.
On May 9, Ventnor City Clerk Lisa Hand reported that seven of the 15 veterans who sold ice cream last year had already paid the increased fee and that it looked like “all of them will be back this year.”
The city had considered doing what Margate and Longport do – solicit bids from a single private vendor – but decided against it. Instead, the city raised the fee veterans pay to sell ice cream on the beach. The city increased the fee to $500 for the summer season, up from the $50 fee charged in prior years.
However, in Margate and Longport, where the municipalities award contracts to a single vendor, it was touch and go for weeks as bid offerings were either ignored or came in below the minimum bid amounts.
After several attempts to get a new vendor, on May 15 Longport awarded a contract to the borough’s previous vendor, Paul Van DeRijn of Jack and Jill Ice Cream of Egg Harbor Township.
Last year, Van DeRijn paid the minimum bid amount of $30,000 for the exclusive right to sell ice cream on the beach but failed to take advantage of an automatic one-year contract extension with a 5% increase in the fee. The borough advertised for sealed bids at an auction on April 9, and received two offers, but they were less than the minimum bid amount of $30,000, and subsequently, both bids had to be rejected. Jim Callista of Longport bid $28,159, and Simco Logistics, Inc. of Moorestown bid $23,000.
The borough solicited bids a second time on May 7 after dropping the minimum bid amount to $25,000, but still offering the one-year extension with a 5% increase for next year. Van DeRijn won that round with his bid of $25,300.
“We’re back to where we were two years ago,” Mayor Nicholas Russo said when the contract was awarded.
In Margate, two rounds of public bidding brought goose eggs, so the city was able to negotiate privately with a vendor according to the public bidding laws.
No bids were received at the city’s first auction held on March 19. The minimum bid amount at that auction was $50,000, $4,000 less than Van DeRijn paid for the 2018 season, and much lower than the $93,000 he paid for the 2017 season, the year the dune project was under construction.
Van DeRijn had threatened to sue the city because the construction project closed large swaths of beach to bathers, and it severely cut into his profits, he said.
The year before, Van DeRijn paid Margate $111,000 for the 2016 season.
At their reorganization meeting Tuesday, May 21, the Margate Board of Commissioners awarded the contract to Van DeRijn for the negotiated fee of $33,000.
So yes, the sound of, “Ice cream and ice here,” will be heard in all three Downbeach communities starting Memorial Day weekend and lasting through Labor Day.
Beachgoers can start screaming for ice cream as the vendors trudge through the hot sand carrying heavy backpacks filled with creamy, cold goodness.