Strathmere to leave Upper Twp.?
I remember when Whale Creek got burglarized. Because of the State Police having to come from the Swainton Barracks on the GSP instead of having OC or SI cover it, Karen lost alot of merchandise. 83% of the vote is hard to argue with. I hope whatever happens doesn't change the easy access to Whale Beach for fisherman.
Posted on Mon, Oct. 8, 2007
Strathmere wants out of township
By Jacqueline L. Urgo
Inquirer Staff Writer
STRATHMERE, N.J. - This is a place like no other at the Jersey Shore. Its appeal may be that it's just like everywhere else used to be.
It's a place that still has a collection of ramshackle summer cottages without screens in the windows, the kind of little places where the whole house seems to inhale and exhale when the ocean breezes blow the curtains in, and then back out again.
About a mile-and-a-half long and two blocks wide, nestled on the same barrier island as Sea Isle City and across an inlet bridge from the southern tip of Ocean City, this is a town where the asphalt paving runs only so far down the street leading to the ocean before the sand and the beach grass take over.
There are no traffic lights, no boardwalk, only a couple of seafood restaurants and one motel. And the people who live here year-round seem to like things the way they are.
Except for one thing: Their tiny Cape May County town is part of a sprawling 65-square-mile, mainland municipality that some residents contend doesn't provide adequate services to their beach community.
A group called Citizens for Strathmere and Whale Beach collected signatures from 115 residents - or 83 percent of the registered voters in the town - and last week presented to officials a petition to secede from Upper Township.
The group contends that as a beach town, Strathmere would be a better fit with its neighbor, Sea Isle City, because issues such as beach replenishment, police protection, and concerns about public water and sewers often overlap.
Without a full-time police force in Upper Township, when officers are needed in Strathmere - say, to deal with a rowdy group of out-of-town surfers - they are summoned from a state police station some 20 miles away instead of neighboring Sea Isle.
When Sea Isle put in new lines to provide clean drinking water and state-of-the-art sewers a decade ago, the project was halted at the Whale Beach section of Strathmere bordering Sea Isle. Strathmere remains one of the few Jersey Shore towns with antiquated septic systems.
And while Strathmere's high-school-age students have attended Ocean City High School for decades, elementary students are required to take a 30-minute-plus bus ride to attend classes on the mainland. Proponents of the secession say Strathmere's handful of students would be better served next door in Sea Isle.
But Upper Township officials are not ready for a divorce.
Township committee members rejected the petition, saying it was not explicit enough because it failed to map exactly what lands would be de-annexed from the municipality.
"We're going to act in the best interest of the township," Mayor Richard Palombo said during the meeting last Monday night.
Strathmere accounts for some $390 million, or about 18 percent, of Upper Township's $2.2 billion in property values, contributing a large amount to school and county taxes.
Now members of the petition group must decide whether they will pursue the matter in court. Mary D'Arcy Bittner, the group's lawyer, said the law requires that 60 percent of the voters there need to agree to the secession for it to become law.
After originally stating he would welcome Strathmere residents, Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard Desiderio has been more reserved in recent comments, saying he would stay out of the Strathmere controversy as it played out.
Some Strathmere residents clearly are ready for a change.
"We're basically second-class citizens to Upper Township," said Delores Reynolds, 78, whose family has owned property in Strathmere since the early 1900s, when the town was known as Corson's Inlet.
"Whenever we ask them for some help with an issue, whether it's police protection or fixing the beach, whatever it is, they act like we're bothering them. We're sick of it," said Reynolds.
Reynolds and others insist the township over the years has consistently failed to provide basic services to Strathmere.
"They have a whole mainland township to worry about, so it's rare that any attention at all is ever given to the beaches and the needs of a beach community," said Strathmere resident Frank Zimmer.
Zimmer said that three years ago, residents expressed surprise when the township embarked on a $20,000 plan to upgrade Strathmere's beach patrol headquarters.
For years, the beach patrol had to make do with a tiny shack and a couple of storage sheds to hold its equipment for the five lifeguard stands it stations on the beachfront each summer.
"That was really the first time in a long time that the township seemed to take any notice of the beach at all," Zimmer said.
Palombo, however, said officials recognize what an important part of the township Strathmere is and that some improvements have been made, including the new lifeguard station, because "we have to realize that Strathmere is a true asset to Upper Township."
Palombo calls Strathmere's apparent desire to secede from Upper Township "unfortunate" and counters the group's claim that the township has not properly responded to the town's needs as a beach community.
"Whenever they've presented us with needs or requests, we've done out best to accommodate any lists of concerns they've given us," Palombo said.
Palombo said that at Strathmere residents' request, the township has provided a full-time EMT on the beach in the summer, speed bumps in certain areas, and an agreement with the Ocean City Fire Department to assist with fire if necessary. Palombo acknowledged that the residents have a right to sue the township to secede. He also said they are welcome to refile a petition and, if it meets all state law requirements, the township committee would "most certainly pass it on to the Planning Board."
I sure hope this doesn't take the Strathmere out of Strathmere. It will if it becomes Sea Isle. Times are a changin.
Last edited by mdub1226; 10-08-2007 at 02:43 PM.
Scott, from what I'm hearing it isn't likely that Strathmere will be allowed to make this move. Its still a way off, but the problems it would cause to the residents of Upper would make it a tough move for the state to approve.
I've heard pretty much the same as above. Very slim chance of UT letting it go!
Originally Posted by Fishenough