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Sunday, June 16, 2024


Crest Asks Open Space to Buy Baker 3.8.2006

By Rick Racela

CREST HAVEN – Wildwood Crest officials Feb. 28 asked the county Open Space Review Board to acquire the quarter-acre property at Pacific Avenue and Aster Road which includes the Philip Baker House.
The board decided in closed session to table the request, which actually came from owners L. M. and C.A. Henderson, and to inquire whether the state Green Acres program has any interest.
The open space application was dated Dec. 15, 2004 and, according to Open Space Director Barbara Ernst, she assumed “they just held it all that time.”
The supporting letter from Wildwood Crest was dated Oct. 5, 2005.
Ernst noted the property  “could be developed into three additional lots,” but the application said there were “no approved subdivision plans.”
Philip Baker was Wildwood Crest’s first mayor and there is considerable sentiment to save the house from possible demolition.
County Planner James Smith described the three-story house as “very large” and owner Chris Henderson said it was 6,700 square feet.
Wildwood Crest Commissioner Don Cabrera, accompanied by Borough Administrator Kevin Yecco, said the borough hoped to use the house for a  “a community center with historical elements, possibly cultural tourism.  It would benefit the entire island.”
“Open space is hard to come by,” Cabrera said.  “Has Wildwood Crest ever applied to you for open space (funds)?” he asked the board.
Members shook their heads.
“Our mission is primarily land preservation, not building preservation,” said Chairman William Quinn.
“Ultimately, it’s the lot we want to preserve,” said Cabrera.
Ernst told this newspaper the board is permitted to consider such a purchase if the value of the structure is “incidental” to the entire value.
According to an Oct. 3, 2005, letter from Wildwood Crest, the land is appraised at $1,196,000 of the total $1,350,000.
County tax records show the house is assessed at $537,800: $294,800 for land and $243,000 for buildings.
They indicate the Hendersons purchased the property in June 1987, for $425,000.
“I do have a buyer,” said Henderson, “but I don’t want somebody to tear it down. The Crest would maintain and preserve it.”
“Has the Crest made you an offer?” asked Quinn.
“No,” she said. “I have been waiting very patiently.”
Contact Zelnik at (609) 886-8600 Ext. 27 or:

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