Hall, Art -- Use this one

Publisher Art Hall

Whether the Crest should remain “dry” has become a renewed town topic of discussion in the last several years. As a Crest resident since the mid-1970s, I had scarcely heard mention of the town going “wet.” A half dozen years back when a Crest restaurant owner told me that he would have to close his restaurant if the town remained dry; I recall thinking to myself, the town is not likely to go wet. By the way, the restaurant did close and was replaced by homes.

I did attend a meeting in the Crest not long ago where a planner presented an argument for serving alcoholic drinks in restaurants to make them more attractive to the public, and to assist the restaurateurs financially. Both my wife, Patricia, and I agreed with him, but neither of us thinks that it will have a spill-over effect which will meaningfully assist in the redevelopment of the business district. Under current New Jersey law, the Crest would only qualify for one license anyway, which would constitute too small of a magnet to revitalize the business district.

We could change the town’s ordinance, make the license available, and give it a shot; it may help a little, but more will need to be done to make the business district appealing. If efforts to redevelop are successful, well great; regardless, trying it will not negatively impact the Crest.

The Crest has already begun gathering increased attention of second homeowners in the last number of years. This is clear to anyone who drives down the streets, especially in the older, northern part of town, where one finds so many older homes being demolished and new homes are being constructed.

Why is this happening? The town has been well run for the last number of years, and that continuous-improvement mentality is even gaining speed. In addition, the Crest’s beaches are extensive and stable, and thus not adding beach replenishment costs to the tax burden.  

But to the subject of alcohol and commercial redevelopment, with the county as a whole being so delightful to residents and visitors alike, why strive to duplicate attractions town by town? Cape May County overall is known for having an exceptional variety of offerings,  from wineries, breweries, golf courses, and bike paths to the allures of specific towns. People are drawn to Wildwood and Ocean City for the boardwalks, rides, and amusements. They are enticed to go to Cape May for its Victorian history, charm, and theatres, as well as to Avalon, Stone Harbor and Cape May for their pedestrian shopping malls. By thinking of our towns as a part of a whole, we become more and more enchanting to ourselves and others.

My thought is, whatever the Crest is doing, just keep doing it. Ultimately it will be stronger as a part of a compelling whole. Further, as a residential community, distinctive for its dwellings and associated draws, in so doing, it will best complement Cape May County’s magic.