Hall, Art -- Use this one

Publisher Art Hall

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The COVID trial has created a regrettable, but totally understandable rift between those of us who call Cape May County home year-round and those who enjoy its pleasures only part time. What seasonal residents are hearing and reading is that they should stay away, and not bring their infection into our less infected environment. Further, they should not drain our stores of necessities, nor potentially occupy our limited number of hospital beds. Rather, they should remain in place until the contagion dissipates. 

These sentiments have been expressed and received 

with strong emotions. 

When I told a friend that I hoped the tension would not create lasting bad feelings, he replied that the ill will isn't going to go away. He added that the relationship between the year-round inhabitants and seasonal dwellers has been somewhat fraught in Sea Isle City for years because the locals run the town and the summer inhabitants pay the taxes, at least the majority of them; efforts to address the imbalance have been thwarted. 

A lady from Avalon told me her family has owned a home for almost half a century but indicated the COVID tensions add to her sense of not being a full participant, but instead still a guest in somebody else’s community. Another said, the island communities’ seasonal residents constitute 85% of the taxpayers but have no say. 

It seems frequently the case that things can be going on well for a period of time, then when something negative happens, dormant issues come again to the fore. 

To the COVID pandemic, in my opinion, people on both sides of the subject make valid points. Our son’s family, including our three grandchildren, lives in the county but we don’t visit currently, not wishing to potentially contaminate anyone. It pains us not to see them but we understand the fear. Likewise, county residents relish when the springtime arrives, and the population swells. – Summertime is here again! Let me add, it’s not just the joy of the enhanced population, Cape May County would be a far less joyful place without all of the added attractions which the larger population supports.  

However, when people are dying by the thousands, alarm grows exponentially. 

But others argue, “It’s my house. I paid for it. I pay more than my share of the taxes because I don’t use the schools, etc. etc. If I want to go to my property, no one has the authority to stop me. I use my mask, and am as careful as everyone else. I should not be stopped at the border because I have an out-of-state license plate, nor should I have to park backward to hide that plate to avoid the scorn of neighbors. No one has the right to threaten or humiliate me. 

The reality is, folks, we are each enriched by the lives of each other. Cape May County belongs to every one of us; we all contribute to the indescribable captivation which it embodies. Families have squabbles, but mature families work through their disputes in such a way that they emerge stronger for having had them. 

When we can all get together again, let's have the neighbors over for a cookout, let's hold block parties, let's get to know one another as part of our Cape May County family. Let's no longer sweep contentious issues under the rug, but decide to work on them together. Let's invest the time to strengthen our bonds. Doing so will add to the quality of our lives and enhance the magic of our home by the sea.