File/NJ Gov. Phil Murphy signs a bill at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall.


VENTNOR – At first Mayor Lance Landgraf thought it was a prank call, but he quickly learned the call was real.

NJ Gov. Phil Murphy recently placed a personal telephone call to the mayor to congratulate the city for winning a $7.1 million grant from the Boardwalk Preservation Fund to reconstruct deteriorating sections of the Ventnor boardwalk, which is more than 60 years old.

“That’s a cool phone call to get,” Landgraf said, especially since he did not think the city would be awarded any funds. “Best phone call I ever got.”

The governor made $100 million available to shore towns up and down the coast from the state’s allotment of American Rescue Plan funding, which was provided to states for economic recovery and revitalization projects. Murphy and the Legislature reserved the funds for shore towns to improve their boardwalks and promenades, which have been “a prized destination” for visitors who shape the tourism economy.

“These grant awards are a meaningful step in preserving the health and dynamism of these special places,” Murphy said when the awards were announced on Feb. 23.

Applications were scored on the clarity and detail of the project description, phases and timelines for completing the work in compliance with ARP deadlines, demonstrated ability to meet project deadlines, and identification of other federal, state, or local funds to match grant dollars.

The projects will require a quick turnaround and must be completed by the end of 2026.

Landgraf said Ventnor was at the top of the list of smaller towns receiving awards.

Atlantic City and Asbury Park were awarded the largest grants at $20 million each.

Ventnor’s project will include total demolition and reconstruction of deteriorating sections of the boardwalk including pilings, timbers and decking, and ADA compliant ramps.

“This is a lot of money and has a direct relationship on funds we would have had to spend to do it,” Commissioner Tim Kriebel said.

Landgraf estimated it could cost as much as $20,000 to simply replace underpinning on a 30-foot section of the wooden way.

“The dunes protect that boardwalk, but also age it because the circulation of air can’t get underneath it,” Landgraf said.

The governor noted that Ventnor’s application was “exemplary,” Landgraf said.

Administrator Tom Ciccarone recommended the city issue a bond ordinance to cover the full amount needed to replace the entire boardwalk, estimated to be $25 million.

Although issuing a bond would not commit the city to spending the funds, having the money appropriated would be beneficial if other grant funding should become available, Commissioner Maria Mento said.

In other business, the city will do some temporary repairs to the pickleball courts at the Suffolk Avenue recreation complex in time for the summer season.

Landgraf said the pickleball and basketball courts need to be completely rebuilt, but not until after the busy summer months.

“We’re not going to do that now because we would lose the early summer,” Landgraf said.

The exterior clock at the Ventnor library building will also be replaced at a cost of $12,000, he said.

Ciccarone said the hands on the clock move but the timing is not accurate.


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Categories: Ventnor

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

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