By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
Other than the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Downbeach towns achieved many, more-upbeat milestones during 2020. Downbeach.com would like to share just 10 of our readers’ favorite stories of the year.
News of beach openings and preparations for summer 2020 took the top spots in views by Downbeach readers. Residents and visitors alike were anxious to come out of their winter-spring hibernation to enjoy some quality time on the beaches of Ventnor, Margate and Longport. One of the most read stories of the year was about the new temporary deck being installed at the Greenhouse beachfront restaurant in Margate.
Newsmaker and philanthropist Cookie Till of Steve & Cookies By The Bay, arguably the best restaurant in South Jersey, was recognized by the premier restaurant recognition program in America. Till was nominated as Outstanding Restaurateur by the James Beard Foundation. Although we didn’t find out until later in the year that Till did not receive enough votes to take the title, being nominated is just as rewarding, she said.
The developers of the old Capt. Andy’s Marina site on Amherst Avenue prevailed in a legal challenge brought by a neighboring restaurant. A New Jersey Appellate Court Oct. 7 upheld Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez’s August 2019 ruling that affirmed the Margate Planning Board’s decision to grant all the necessary variances and waivers needed to develop the property into a multi-use commercial property. Two Daughters, LLC, which owns Sophia’s Restaurant across the street from the marina site, filed suit against the developers, the city and the planning board, and later appealed Mendez’s ruling, stating the actions taken were arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.
After 50 years at her current location, one of the world’s most popular icons, Lucy the Elephant, got a new address. And she didn’t have to take a step to do it. The Margate Board of Commissioners July 2 approved a resolution renaming the 100-block of S. Decatur Avenue as Lucy Place, with Lucy’s new postal address as 100 S. Lucy Plaza. The new address was a fitting tribute to the iconic structure on her 139th birthday and the 50th anniversary of her historic move to the beachfront park at Decatur and Atlantic avenues, where she keeps a watchful eye on beachgoers. Despite social distancing protocols in place, the city and the Lucy board were able to have a reserved celebration that included another iconic blast from the past – the re-creation of the former Lenny’s Hot Dog Stand.
Margate’s Marina District got a new neighbor. Our story about the Margate Planning Board approving the site plan for the long-anticipated and often maligned water park was a most shared story of the year. After receiving the necessary permits from state and federal agencies, riparian property owner Maggie Day received Planning Board approval to erect and open the Island Aqua Park Margate that included a rectangular floating dock with inflatables. Weeks later, children and adults were slipping, sliding and splashing in the bay along Amherst Avenue.
The FBI issued a warning to those who obtained finger-prick COVID-19 testing at a Ventnor City diagnostic lab. According to the FBI, the “rapid” finger prick blood tests for COVID-19 are antibody tests and should not be used for diagnosing active cases of COVID-19. Only a test that uses a nasal swab or saliva should be used to diagnose active cases of COVID-19, they said. Patients should be retested using the nasal swab method. The lab has since closed.
Margate City mourned the loss of former Mayor Sigmund “Sig” S. Rimm, who served as city commissioner for 32 years. Rimm died Tuesday, May 19 at age 88. He was well respected in a community that found it a fitting tribute to name its athletic fields in his honor. The recreation complex on Jerome Avenue proudly displays his name and is adorned with a lifeboat filled with flowers, in line with Rimm’s ongoing efforts to beautify the city. He always said Margate was “THE place to have a second home.”
Child is father to the man. Residents can learn a lot from children and such is the case with little Johnny Amodeo who braved chemotherapy and radiation to treat a brain tumor diagnosed earlier in the year.
On Saturday morning, May 23, the boy joined his parents, first responders and the school and community at large for a reverse “Brave Like Johnny” parade through the streets of Margate. Instead of sitting on his porch and watching the parade go by, Johnny insisted he be the parade to celebrate the end of his treatments. And to celebrate his birthday, Johnny and his family and friends collected hundreds of toys for children undergoing treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Speaking of parades, 104-year-old Fran Harris of Margate watched a parade of well-wishers, including friends from the Martin Bloom Pavilion, police, fire and community supporters, pass by her house to celebrate her birthday. Although her usually active social life was sidelined when the coronavirus closed the senior center, her friends made sure they delivered cards, balloons, flowers and a birthday cake. After the parade, Harris said, “I’ll be here again next year.”
Margate voters put the kibosh on the Boardwalk Committee’s plans to build a boardwalk on the beach. Voters overwhelmingly voted against building the boardwalk, defeating a referendum by a 2-1 margin, with 989 yes votes and 2,110 no votes. Members of the Boardwalk Committee worked for more than two years to get the referendum on the ballot, and the Board of Commissioners obliged them on March 5, agreeing to let the voters decide the issue. Boardwalk proponent Glenn Klotz first proposed the idea after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection built a 1.5 mile long protective sand dune across the beach that degraded views and access to the ocean and created a “dead zone” between the back of the dune and the existing citywide bulkhead, he said. The boardwalk would solve access issues for the elderly and infirm, provide an additional recreational amenity for walkers, joggers and cyclists, and improve safety for beachfront homeowners, according to the committee’s report, “A Margate Boardwalk for the 21st” Upon hearing of the defeat, Klotz said, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We did our best and we accomplished getting it to a vote. The people have spoken.”
These and other stories can be found by using the search bar at the top of the Downbeach.com home page.
The management and staff of Downbeach.com and her sister news sites, OCNJDaily.com, SeaIsleNews.com and SomersPoint.com look forward to sharing South Jersey’s hyper-local news in 2021 and wish all our readers a very Happy New Year!
Copyright Mediawize, LLC 2020