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WILDWOOD — The image of the City of Wildwood as a resort was at the center of discussion at the City Commissioners’ meeting Aug. 12. Many residents who reside in the area of Leaming and New Jersey avenues went to express strong opposition to the proposed purchase of the K & K building by Cape Assist to be used for drug counseling and other drug-related programs.

Resident Al Brannon explained that the very existence of a social services facility in their city not only draws drug users and other offenders from out of town, but such facilities also scare off visitors who are confronted with discarded drug paraphernalia and narcotics offenders while on vacation.

He stated “These facilities are not needed here; we have a great town here.”   Mayor Ernie Troiano responded that he is in full agreement that the facility is unnecessary and will adversely affect the quality of life of residents and visitors. “We can’t help everyone, and they can’t keep dumping on Wildwood” he stated. 

Troiano wished to be clear that he has no argument with Cape Assist and the work it does. He spoke about the misconception that somehow, Wildwood needed all these extra social services because of a bad crime and drug problem.

Troiano’s position is that people have been getting dumped into Wildwood from other jurisdictions; that some are even given bus tickets to Wildwood from other communities, and that this is hurting the city and its image as a resort town.

He related that he has broached this subject with county government, but that he does not seem to be making headway. He asked that all residents who oppose this trend of drug rehabilitation centers to be vocal at county freeholder meetings.

“I need your help,” he declared, “I urge all of you to get involved.” Troiano repeated his position that these facilities are drawing criminals to Wildwood, and if these facilities were absent, then the crime rate would correspondingly fall as drug users would move to other locales.

The mayor assured everyone that he is “all over this issue” and that he will be sure to keep residents informed about the progress of this proposed sale to Cape Assist.

Affordable Housing

The issue of affordable housing was also discussed as part of the same issue. The mayor stated his support for affordable housing in principle, as long as other communities in the coastal resort area bear their fair share as well. He related that communities like Stone Harbor and Avalon merely pay other communities to take their low-income housing share; the idea that they can buy their way out of the issue is unfair, according to Troiano.

Honored for Service

The mayor and Commissioners Peter Bryon and Anthony Leonetti presented Wildwood Beach Patrol Chief Steven Stocks with a plaque and City of Wildwood proclamation in honor of 30 years of dedicated and loyal service to the people of Wildwood.

Leonetti described Stocks as too young to have served 30 years; his tenure began in 1986. He complemented Stocks on his leadership and stated that Stocks had “turned the beach patrol around” and made it the finest in the area.

To contact Jim McCarty, email jmccarty@cmcherald.com.

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