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Dateline January 2008: 
News from around Ventnor City

January 2008 started off in traditional fashion with the POLAR BEAR PLUNGE on New Year’s Day.  Readers are encouraged to visit the Downbeach Current’s Bonus Coverage section, featuring the well-attended event.   

http://bonus.shorenewsnowtv.com/2008/01/03/taking-the-big-plunge-bonus-slideshow.aspx

A sadder event along the same stretch of shore was held just a few days later when a special surfers’ memorial was staged by his friends of Robert Wayne (“Duke”) Mead, Jr., who died in a tragic car accident at the end of December.  He was an avid surfer and a familiar sight to people who frequent that part of Ventnor’s beach.

Link to the Atlantic City Press story:

http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/local/atlantic/story/7526392p-7427768c.html

The second week of January was marked by a surprising termination of telephone service at Ventnor’s public buildings, on Monday evening, January 7th.  First reports surfaced from some city employees, and then other residents.  It appeared service was cut around 5:30 pm.  Some got an automated call informing them phones would not work but that 911 could still be dialed,  while others who dialed into city phone numbers reported either a buzzing noise or a disconnect message.  Rumors circulated that the City had not paid its phone bill.  Talk radio carried that information on Tuesday morning.   A later print story reported by WMGM-40, which also has a video link to their TV coverage of the story, can be found here:

http://www.nbc40.net/view_story.php?id=4122

City Administrator Andrew McCrosson was interviewed by a reporter.  He stated there had been an ongoing dispute about a surcharge that was part of the billing from the telephone firm servicing City of Ventnor’s public buildings.  The phone provider is named ACC Business. Mr. McCrosson was quoted by the local TV station’s story as saying:

"[In] several conversations Tuesday morning I expressed my displeasure and relayed that I thought it was unconscionable that they would interrupt municipal services, whereupon I found out that they didn't have us listed as a municipality."

Phone service was restored Tuesday morning.

In local school news, the declining enrollments which found the Diocese of Camden announcing some time ago that there would be a merger of Blessed Sacrament’s school population into St. James School, gave way to an Open House.  The event held the second week of January at St. James, allowed  students and parents from the Margate parochial school a chance to check out the Ventnor facility.   The Atlantic City Press carried the story with interviews of the young visitors. 

In the area of public school news, during the second week of January, the Legislature passed a new Schools Funding bill.  The $7.8 billion bill carried a funding formula which will penalize districts which have either overbuilt facilities, or not met enrollment projections.   Both Margate and Ventnor could be faced with less funding from the state under this new law.  It appears that the funding bill was lengthy (113 pages long), complicated, and the legislators voted on it on a day which found them considering well over 100 bills.   Articles are linked:

. http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/top_three/story/7526604p-7427990c.html

http://blog.nj.com/njv_editorial_page/2008/01/trentons_unseemly_spree.html

And finally, in still more January news, attention has turned to the future of our town’s height restrictions along the commercial corridor of Ventnor Avenue.   A proposal before the Planning Board calls for condos with ground level parking at the old Lou’s Deli / Agape restaurant site.   And, our e-mail inbox got word from someone who seemed to work in the realty field, advising that the combined sites of JoJo’s and the adjacent lots were going on the market.   The asking price was reportedly going to be over $2 million.   Height restrictions are not a new topic whenever land values force consideration of what works economically.   From the OPRA documents archives come these two pages of typewritten notes, taken in 2003 when the Commissioners and their advisors were interviewing Bach Associates.  Bach was one of the three finalists under consideration for a Preferred Developer Agreement.   It wanted to acquire land all the way to the waterfront of the Bay along one street, and its discussions pointed to a “critical mass” of density allowing for 7 story heights in some locations.   There’s nothing new in 2008 that wasn’t talked about a few years ago!  It is believed that James Whelan, who advised City of Ventnor over the course of four years on Redevelopment, was the author of the notes below, and produced for an OPRA request some time ago.

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