Could beach fees be coming to Wildwood?

July 22, 2011 3:11:00 PM PDT
Wildwood, New Jersey prides itself on its boardwalk, amusement rides and those wide beaches that are free to the public.

But, like in most towns, money is tight and among the options being discussed to raise money is beach fees.

"We have to look at every revenue source available," said Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano. He says it costs about a half-million dollars to maintain the beaches.

That money, however, comes from property taxes. In an effort to give property owners a break, the town's commissioners are talking about a number of revenue-raising options.

Paying to go on the beach is one idea on the table.

"The taxes are very high, as they are in New Jersey. We need to find a way to help people who live here," said Mayor Troiano.

John Sicilianois is the executive director of the Wildwoods Convention Center. He says beach fees would have to be looked at carefully to see if they will actually hurt tourism.

Wildwood, Wildwood Crest and North Wildwood are separate municipalities but are marketed as one. None of the three have beach fees.

"I really can't for the life of me see one town do it but two towns not do it. So, that's a whole other issue that needs to be brought into the scope of this," said Siciliano.

Most visitors are not in favor of buying beach tags but some understand why it's on the radar screen.

"I don't think it's too bad. If you want a clean beach you'll have to pay," said Paul Whalen of South Philadelphia.

"I wouldn't like it because, I think, you'll see less people come because of price it would be," said Debbie Hurst of Greensburg, Pa.

The beaches will likely remain free this summer, as no action is expected soon. The possibility for the future, though, can't be ruled out.