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WILDWOOD – “We (Wildwood) need to take a hard look,” Mayor Ernie Troiano said Sept. 25, referring to the future of the Roar to Shore Motorcycle Rally.

Drawing thousands for over 23 years, Roar to the Shore brings motorcyclists and bike culture to Wildwood every September.

According to Roar to the Shore’s website, Wildwood is centrally located between several major East Coast cities: Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and Washington. Cyclists can cruise through Wildwood and Cape May County, filling local restaurants and motels.

However, the mayor believes the free rally’s days are numbered.

According to Troiano, “We (Wildwood) can’t afford it.” The mayor reflected on the smaller crowds and “possibility of trouble.” “We had zero problems,” Troiano clarified, yet he is not willing to take a chance on public safety.

“The slightest spark may ignite a situation,” he added.

The mayor said members of the Wildwood Business Improvement District (BID) approached him with their concerns, along with several residents. Troiano said the complaints/concerns center around the “element” riding into town.

Commissioner Peter Byron shares Troiano’s concerns, but remains “on the fence.” Byron feels that increased police presence harms the city’s family-friendly image. An approximate $40,000 was paid in police overtime, said Byron.

“No one wants to see SWAT teams,” Byron said in a phone interview Sept. 30. He added that the “outlaw type” has replaced a percentage of the traditional, family-friendly rider – the professional who wanted to get away for the weekend.

Byron said he does not want to “punish” the majority of cyclists because of a minority “outlaw” element. “I don’t want to cancel something until we know all of our options,” he said.

Byron wishes for city leaders, police, and event promotor, Joe Murray, of Rtts Entertainment, Inc., to meet and discuss the issue, perhaps finding a solution instead of canceling the event.

Troiano said no action would be taken until Commissioner Anthony Leonetti is consulted and is given an opportunity to share his thoughts. Leonetti was absent from the Sept. 25 meeting.

Police Chief Robert Regalbuto said he would not comment until he has consulted with Leonetti.

Murray did not respond to a request for comment.

To contact Rachel Rogish, email rrogish@cmcherald.com.

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