Rendering of bandstand at Newport Avenue beach.


VENTNOR – To accommodate construction of a long-awaited bandstand to replace the aging gazebo at the beachfront park on Newport Avenue, Ventnor Special Events has announced the Saturday night Summer Concert Series will be moved to the bayside Ski Beach this year.

More than 50 people on Facebook were critical of the move, some saying the concerts have been “cancelled,” and others accusing the city of “poor planning” for not being able to get the concert venue built during a mild winter. Five years ago, when the city first proposed a concert series at the location, residents complained about noise generated by the bands and parking issues.

Resident Jordan Shapiro posted that moving the concerts “takes away a wonderful experience” for people who live in the neighborhood and laments they will have to “endure” a major construction project during the summer season. Another person said they won’t be able to live without their beachfront concerts.

Commissioner Tim Kriebel, who proposed the project two years ago, said the commissioners wanted it to be ready for this summer, but regulatory approvals took longer than expected. The NJ Department of Environmental Protection Watershed and Land Management took 11 months to review the city’s application and it issued a permit on Jan. 18. Building codes to ensure proper drainage during storms must be adhered to because of its location next to the dune, boardwalk and bulkhead.

The city appropriated funding to build the bandstand in a $5.8 million bond ordinance approved in September 2022 for various capital projects. The city has since applied for and received a $50,000 state recreation grant to offset costs, and the Ventnor Beautification Committee has pledged a donation of $75,000 when the ribbon is cut. The public will be able to support the project by purchasing memorial brick pavers that will be installed along a handicapped access ramp, the proceeds of which will offset some costs, Kriebel said.

The project will triple the size of the stage, make it handicapped accessible according to Americans with Disabilities Act, and provide everything musicians need to put on a great show.

With the DEP permit now in hand, the city is working to develop bid specifications and will advertise for bids in the coming weeks. The city is required to review all bids received before selecting the lowest qualified bidder. Kriebel said the city will have a better idea of the timeline for completion once bids are received.

McLees Architecture of Somers Point designed the project to comply with DEP permitting requirements, including concrete, the canopy, landscaping and fencing.

“It was redesigned from a more elaborate, more expensive structure that required a chair lift. The architect provided a simplified structure with a pre-fabricated shell on top of a concrete foundation,” Kriebel said.

The project also includes electrical improvements for lighting and for the bands’ equipment.
McLees indicated it will take 4-5 months to complete, barring any unforeseens, such as site work and materials issues, he said.

The city has come a long way since starting the beach concerts six years ago. It now provides about 20 free concerts at two locations during the summer months, and it hosts numerous large community events throughout the year.

“We started the concerts to bring some enjoyment to the city at a time when we had no entertainment and no money,” Kriebel said.

Over the years, the city improved the concerts by adding amenities such as food trucks and vendors, and it started the second concert series on Wednesday nights at Ski Beach, where concert goers also get to enjoy beautiful sunsets over the bay.

Also over the last six years, the city has tackled other major construction projects, such as improving the Ventnor Pier, building a new Lifeguard Headquarters, and a new firehouse on Wellington Avenue.

Kriebel said shifting concerts to Ski Beach was the best way to ensure the concert series continued without interruption.

“Some larger events such as the 4th of July and National Night Out events will take place at our sister beachfront park near the tennis courts at Surrey Avenue,” he said.

Despite residents’ concerns, the city is “open to all responsible possibilities as long as they are safe and within reasonable costs and logistically sound,” he said.

“Initially, we thought only a few concerts would be impacted, but we want to ensure the concert series continues without interruption and shifting them to Ski Beach in the near term allows that.”

If the stage is completed sooner or the project is further delayed, the city will explore other options with the Police, Fire and Special Events departments, he said.

“The important thing is to ensure construction is completed in a timely manner and with high quality so that we can enjoy concerts and public events for years to come in what will be a landmark iconic structure for Ventnor.”


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Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.