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Dateline July/August 2008

WeLoveVentnor spent the summer months working on updating a business directory of Ventnor Merchants and shooting short video promotionals for a number of them.  The YouTube presence was expanded to our WeLoveVentnorBiz channel, which features merchant promotionals.  Click to visit them at http://www.youtube.com/user/WeLoveVentnorBiz

An up-to-date listing of businesses was obtained from City Hall shortly after the deadline for filing Mercantile Licenses, in July.  The new directory, which has businesses’ addresses, phone numbers, websites (where businesses have their own such sites) and the videos WLV shot is now linked at our frontpage top-of-page yellow Live and Play tab at http://www.weloveventnor.org/businesses.html

WeLoveVentnor members serve on some of the new advisory citizens’ committees that were created by the new Administration and a feature of what the new Communications committee will produce is a quarterly newsletter to the town.  Pending a revamping of the official City of Ventnor website, which may be unveiled by late spring/ summer of 2009, the new City of Ventnor newsletter was offered as a PDF document available for download as a click on the top of our homepage, and also at http://www.weloveventnor.org/documents/summer2008.pdf

Since the new Administration now offers its monthly Workshops in the true “Open Meeting” environment of the Commission Chambers, rather than the smaller confines used by past administrations which held the workshops in the Mayor’s office, WLV provided first-time-ever video coverage of a workshop – it was the July 10th Workshop meeting (click here to view segments) at which the Mayor announced the status of the DEP understanding about the Ventnor West dredge spoils issue, and Commissioner Piatt reported on the various financial difficulties facing the city which were being investigated.   The regular July 17th Commission meeting (click here to view segments) was also videotaped for YouTube, at which the ordinance banning “eminent domain for private gain” was adopted.  Later, a New Jersey Appellate Court announced a ruling involving another coastal town (click here for more info) which showed that government “power play” abuses had occurred, and the judiciary is reining them in where town elected officials do not – to the relief of many homeowners who have been threatened by rather predatory eminent domain practices.

At the same Meeting, Commissioner Weintraub explained to residents that the new Commission had discovered that the majority of the city’s water meters had been neglected, with no routine replacements of their batteries, posing an unexpected new “infrastructure need” for the town with various spending/replacement options presented for correcting the problem, as had been reported in our Forums at the same time as the Workshop and Meeting.  Among the fiscal difficulties discovered during July and August were the fact that Bond Issues for the pier had not been floated, necessitating that the new Administration attend to that chore, and that Current Fund balances had been raided to pay for capital improvements, forcing the new Administration to also put out for Revenue Anticipation Notes and issue “estimated” tax bills in late summer.  This was reported in our Forums (click here) in late July.

In early August, another “infrastructure need” became apparent as a sewage line under the waters of the Mile Stretch between Ventnor West and Ventnor Heights ruptured, causing a cessation of services as emergency equipment had to be put in place.  A permanent long-term solution for replacement is in planning stages as to its technical and financial aspects.  

Also during these summer months, there was active questioning by residents who either live on the beach block of Washington Ave. or who use that street for beach access, relative to the City’s Public Works Department having installed a Port-a-John near the ramp leading to the Boardwalk.   Commissioner Weintraub defended the decision, citing to DEP regulations about “public access” burdens placed on coastal towns relative to the amenities of parking and toilet facilities which DEP believes they must provide.  Citizen Norm Klinger spoke up at one meeting to note that, as an attorney (retired from active practice) and volunteer assisting with transition efforts, he had been asked to look at paperwork left by the past Administration and placed in an envelope marked to the urgent attention of the new Administration, suggesting that the new Mayor should sign it.  Mayor Kelly had referred it to him for review, and it appeared to be an unsigned amended contract, dating from 2007, which would have constituted a finalized agreement between DEP and Ventnor.  The posts in WLV’s Forums provide photos and news accounts and commentary about the topic, as it arose during the summer. 

[Update note: In November, an Appellate Court in NJ ruled on a lawsuit originally brought by Avalon in November 2007, and joined by Stone Harbor, Sea Isle and Cape May County in sympathetic “amicus curia” (“friends of the court”) briefs.  The Court ruled that the state DEP had overstepped its bounds and that, as recounted in an Atlantic City Press story, “DEP’s regulations ‘infringe upon the statutory powers of municipal government.’”)  Click here to read more details in WLV’s coverage of both the lengthy laundry list of regulations DEP sought to impose on towns with beaches, like Ventnor, and the later court outcome.   

On the “fun” side of the months of July and August, the pier was opened to the town and public over July 4th weekend, WeLoveVentnor staged a beach gathering with hotdogs, soft drinks and sociability for members on that same holiday weekend,  the town inaugurated a National Night Out event on August 5th (click here for photos) which brought many residents to the grounds between the Library and beach, and the eco-friendly regatta of human-powered water craft “NIGHTS IN VENTNOR: Go Green!” (click here for photos) was staged August 23rd.  The entries were unexpectedly high, and it appears that Ventnor now has an event which is town-sponsored and might become a perennial favorite for the summer months, after the demise of the Atlantic City-based “Round Absecon Island Swim” of past years. 

Click on this link to see a Music Video of Nights in Ventnor, shot and edited by WLV.