NORTH WILDWOOD – North Wildwood City Council received an update on plans and viewed renderings of the proposed Gold Star Families Memorial and Gateway.
Jim Verna III, principal engineer with Van Note-Harvey, addressed the council Aug. 15 and said the first phase of the project would begin in the fall, with a grand opening slated for Memorial Day weekend 2024. The project will be funded, in part, through the Cape May County Open Spaces program, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is paying for the monuments.
Bill Davenport, commander of VFW Post 5941, said the VFW is the sponsoring organization and is partnering with Run to Remember, a 501(c)(3) through which all the donations are being processed, and the City of North Wildwood.
“We have purchased the Gold Star Families monument and it is sitting in Vermont,” Davenport said.
The gateway will include a VFW memorial and a monolith bearing the emblems from each branch of service on the same side of the street as the Gold Star monument. On the south side of Spruce Avenue, where the former Triangle Restaurant was located, will be the Fallen Heroes Memorial and a 40-foot, three-side tower that will have nautical signal flags.
Davenport said the final cost to the VFW has not yet been determined and they continue to raise money.
“Our cost right now is about $100,000, but we’ll help the city out as much as possible,” he said.
Davenport said there is a significant amount of lighting needed to light the flagpoles and walkways. The city, he said, has purchased all the property for the gateway memorial project.
Verna said the city had acquired two parcels of land, including the old George’s Sunoco station, and was trying to acquire the site of the former Esso/Exxon station.
This project includes various blocks and lots, along with the public rights of way through the main corridor of Spruce Avenue where it intersects with Anglesea Drive and New York Avenue. Verna said when it is completed, it will be the first Gold Star memorial in New Jersey.
In March, the City of North Wildwood awarded a contract for the design of the project to Bernstein Design Group, of Cape May. Mayor Patrick Rosenello said at the time that there has been a vision for a gateway entrance to the city for a long time.
The city already has a veterans memorial in that location. Added to the area will be benches and shade structures, as well as a vegetative barrier between the monuments and the commercial buildings. The triangular tower, which should be visible to all who enter or leave North Wildwood, will sit in the middle of a fountain.
There will be three flag poles erected on-site, what is described as a “coast maritime woodlands,” an educational garden walk, pergola, kiosk, bicycle racks, a bicycle fix-it station, and a water station.
The roadway will be redesigned for traffic calming means in the gateway area and parking will be added.
“Pedestrian safety will be greatly improved,” Verna said.
Rosenello said in the spring, the city applied for partial funding of the project through the Cape May County Open Spaces program. The city was involved in a workshop meeting with the county regarding Open Space funding in July and is anticipating having a final meeting in September.
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