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Monday, June 17, 2024


Raucous Bar Hoppers Make Locals Cringe

By Lauren Suit

NORTH WILDWOOD — Joan Navarro, a resident of Third Avenue here, received a rude awakening around the early morning hours of July 3.
“Someone was banging on my front door,” she told members of City Council. “Some drunk was actually trying to break down the door.”
Navarro said that she been living at her home on Third Avenue for 18 years, and unfortu-nately she has become no stranger to dealing with incidents like that.
“The last five years have been hell,” Navarro said of living in close proximity to the city’s popular bars and restaurants on Olde New Jersey Avenue.
“And we’re just reaching our breaking point,” she added and gestured to her Third Avenue neighbors who accompanied her to the meeting and nodded in agreement.
Ginny Coombs, another Third Avenue resident, whose home is located right next to the Wawa, said that she has seen first hand what happens at closing time and “droves of drunk people are let out of the bars.”
According to Coombs, first most of the crowd typically files into the Wawa and then proceeds down the nearby streets leaving broken beer bottles, high heel shoes and suspicious looking glassine bags in their wake.
She added that the smell from public urination is almost unbearable and the noise made from the crowds at night makes sleeping peacefully nearly impossible.
During the recent weekend, many patrons of the city’s nightlife disagreed with some of the Third Avenue residents’ complaints.
“They live near an active and popular bar district,” said Jamie Kensington, who was vacationing here. “I wouldn’t expect it to be quiet.”
“When you’re used to living with relative peacefulness during the off-season, I wouldn’t be surprised that so many people get upset when it gets loud and noisy during the summer,” responded her friend John Caites. “But that is what summer is going to be like down here.”
“Isn’t it good for the town to have a busy nightlife?” he asked.
“There’s a lot of tourist dollars getting spent,” he added.
But Coombs said that what is happening in her neighborhood is not simply tourists having one too many at the local bars.
“People are coming here and getting obliterated,” she said. “It is becoming a public health and safety issue.”
“We need your help,” she told members of council.
When asked if she has contacted the police to respond when certain issues arise, Coombs said that she has called many times.
“But by the time I call, they are already gone,” she said.
Coombs asked Police Chief Robert Matteucci if the area could receive additional police presence.
Matteucci responded that situation at Olde New Jersey Avenue has “a million components.”
He explained that in order to make an arrest or issue a ticket, an officer has to see a violation taking place. He said that he couldn’t “put a security guard component” on the avenue because the officers have to cover the whole town.
“It is not our function to be security guards,” Matteucci said.
Mayor Bill Henfey told Coombs and the other Third Avenue residents that this is “obviously a problem that needs fixing.”
“Our police officers and our chief are very capable. I’m not going to have to tell them how to do it, but they’ll be able to solve the problem,” Henfey said.
“We’ll let the police department set up their own program,” he said.

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