Margatians will continue to head to Ventnor and Atlantic City for their boardwalk needs after voters in the Jersey Shore town overwhelmingly rejected a ballot question calling for the town to study the feasibility of building its own boardwalk.
“I think the number-one reason was people’s wallets,” said Margate resident Dan Gottlieb, who led the opposition to the project.
“There was a $25 million estimate before the pandemic to build the boardwalk. Lumber prices have at least doubled in that time. The $25 million was wildly optimistic.”
The vote-by-mail totals for the referendum, which only asked that a $285,000 study be done, was 2,110 no to 989 yes. Glenn Klotz, who formed the committee advocating for a boardwalk in Margate, had said he thought the project would correct some problems left by the unpopular beach replenishment project.
Rebuilding a boardwalk in Margate, which had one before it was destroyed in a 1944 Hurricane, would have lengthened the existing pathway in adjacent Atlantic City and Ventnor by another mile and a half. But in the end, the desire of people of Margate to truly open their northern border with Ventnor was limited.
“In the big picture, I don’t know where we would have fit it in,” said Commissioner John Amodeo, who noted that the Army Corp has installed a drainage system that runs behind the new dunes and might have complicated any boardwalk construction.
He also noted that a dozen Margate beachfront residents maintain riparian rights to the land in front of their homes and might have be expected to tie up any plan with “four to five years of litigation.”
Gottlieb said Margate is likely to improve conditions on Atlantic Avenue for bicyclists by widening bike lanes and narrowing the road to one lane. And he suggested an easier fix to the “dead zone” between the new dunes and the bulkheads the boardwalk would have covered up.
“Maybe the solution there is some recreational things like volleyball nets, or shuffleboard courts,” he said.
He also questioned whether the Army Corps of Engineers or the state Department of Environmental Protection would have approved the project.
Gottlieb suggested the money would be better spent studying ways to mitigate the chronic nuisance flooding on the town’s bay side, rather than contemplating an expensive new amenity like a boardwalk. “If you had a leaky roof, would you put a hot tub in your backyard or fix your leaky roof first?” he said.