By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
VENTNOR – A nice fully-masked crowd turned out to see the Board of Commissioners cut the ribbon on the new Ventnor Pier House Friday, June 26. The three-year project came to fruition in time for residents and visitors to enjoy the improved amenity when they visit the Ventnor Fishing Pier or go to the beach near Cambridge Avenue.
The newly built facility includes men’s, women’s and family restrooms and an office for the pier master.
“This place is phenomenal,” Pier Master Dan Zameito said before welcoming visitors for the ribbon cutting. “I wasn’t expecting this. It’s such a big improvement over the old office, which was really just a shanty. It was nothing like this.”
The facility was designed by SOSH Architects of Atlantic City and built by Weatherby Construction, a local Ventnor company. The small building replaces the former public restroom facility where lines of women and children lined up during the summer months to take care of business.
The building includes several stalls in the women’s bathroom and a separate room for baby changing.
According to Commissioner Tim Kriebel, the city used all the latest weatherproof materials, installed a drainage system in each of the bathrooms so they can be hosed down when necessary, and fiberglass ADA-compliant ramps leading to the restrooms.
“Although we wanted it more modern, the architect gave it a more beachy feel,” Kriebel said.
To warm-up the crisp grey and white design, the architect recommended installation of some IPE wood finishes that soften the design and give it some contrast, Kriebel said.
“It provides a shady area where people can line up in the breezeway on hot summer days,” Kriebel said.
Commissioner Lance Landgraf was instrumental in assisting Administrator Maria Mento with obtaining approvals from the NJ DEP Green Acres Program to rebuild the facility using funding the DEP was holding from the old ice skating rink that was demolished to make way for an addition at the Ventnor Library and Cultural Arts Center building on Atlantic Avenue. After working with Green Acres, the state released $1.4 million in grants and a low-interest loan, with $300,000 of it reserved for the pier house improvement, Mento said.
The project cost approximately $520,000 to build, she said.
“It’s gorgeous and was a long time coming,” resident Jim Colaianni said. “This is a proud day for the city and Tim (Kriebel) looks like a proud papa.”
Monica Sykes, whose father-in-law’s architectural firm design the building, said she would use the facility when she goes to the beach with her children.
“It’s spacious, bright and fresh,” she said. “And I love the transom windows that allow the light into the bathrooms. I will totally use it.”
Resident Liv Dietrich, who always went to the Cambridge Avenue beach, said the building was a “big improvement” over the old unisex, one-stall bathroom.
“It’s great to have a place to change diapers. That’s a biggie for the beach,” she said.
Public Works Supervisor Ed Stinson, whom Kriebel called “our Switzerland” for smoothing out issues between the city, architect and builder, said members of the Public Works Department would clean the bathrooms several times a day, and a company hired to sanitize the city’s public facilities during the coronavirus pandemic would come in every evening to clean and mist sanitize the spaces with a 24-hour disinfectant.
The pier will open to fishers on Saturday, June 27 with pro-rated seasonal fees. Because construction delayed the spring opening of the pier, the seasonal fishing fee for adults is reduced to $150; seniors and vets, $125; youths, ages 10-17, $50; and spectators, $40. Daily usage fees are posted on the city’s website at https://www.ventnorcity.org/fishing-pier-fees, and can be paid for at the pier, Zameito said. Fishing Pier regulations are also posted on the page. The pier is open for fishing from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
At 1,000 feet long, the Ventnor City fishing pier is the longest fishing pier in New Jersey and the only public fishing pier in South Jersey, he said.
The ribbon cutting was followed by Open Pier Night, with no fees charged to spectators. The next open pier night will be on July 4 when spectators can enjoy the Margate Mother’s Association’s annual fireworks display launched from the beach at Huntington Avenue.
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