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Crest Introduces $4.5 million Bond Ordinance

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By Christopher South

WILDWOOD CREST – The Board of Commissioners of Wildwood Crest introduced a $4.5 million bond ordinance to make various improvements, with a large chunk dedicated to the Crest Arts Pavilion.
The borough will bond for $4.275 million with $225,000 being the borough’s down payment on the bond.
Ordinance 1388 appropriates $3 million for various improvements, including hardscaping of the Crest Arts Pavilion, the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and improvements to the parking lot. This portion of the bonded amount will also pay for upgrades to the heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system at the municipal pool, as well as furnishings, landscaping and equipment.
Mayor Don Cabrera said the old library on Ocean Avenue was closed when the new county library was opened on Atlantic Avenue in 2015. The old library had been unused since then and had been the subject of an insurance claim for electrical wiring that was damaged, but the building is structurally sound. Cabrera said the borough tried to come up with a vision for what it should become.
“We wanted to get everyone on board and went through a series of public meetings trying to determine the vision,” Cabrera said.
The idea selected was to turn the old library into a multi-functional building under the name Crest Arts Pavilion. Cabrera said the first phase of the renovation was the interior and exterior of the building, and the second phase is everything outside, including trellises, firepits, sculptures, and entertainment facilities. Cabrera said the borough is on track for county Open Space funding to create a bike path that has access to the building.
 Cabrera said the Wildwood Crest Arts Council will put artwork inside the pavilion, where there might also be art shows. He said it could be a wedding venue, or a venue for parties. The Crest Arts Pavilion will also be the headquarters of seasonal tourist operations.
“The bottom line is building such a vital part of history we wanted to turn it into a nice amenity,” Cabrera said.
Asked if the building would be open year-round, Cabrera said it would have the capacity to do so, but that decision would be based on the types of programs going on inside of it. He said the Wildwood Crest Historical Society would like to display some items at the pavilion; there is interest in bringing in speakers to do lectures, as well as arts and crafts programs for kids and families, such as the Create in the Crest program that was held outside.
Cabrera said the site of the Crest Arts Pavilion is inside the hotel/motel district and will get foot traffic from the library and pickleball courts, located just west of the pavilion.
“The building is going to be something unique. There will be entertainment outside, and the whole eastern side opens up and you can see dunes and the ocean,” he said.
The borough is just waiting on a couple of parts to get the building ready for a tour for potential vendors. Bids for operating in retail space at the pavilion will go out in about two months.
Administrator Connie Mahon said the borough received $271,000 in Small Cities funding to make the bathrooms ADA accessible and it is tapping into Cape May County Open Space funding for exterior site improvements.
The bond ordinance also contains $850,000 dedicated to beach and bay property improvements, including bulkhead reconstruction. This figure will also cover the installation of foot showers and benches at street ends, and beach walkways. Mahon said these “beach bump outs” were the last phase of this project and would be completed in the spring. The work being funded through the county Open Space program is reimbursement-type funding, meaning the borough must spend the money first, and then will be reimbursed by the county.
Another $650,000 is being dedicated to the improvement of recreation and park facilities, including pickleball courts. Preston Park will receive hardscaping, signage, landscaping and curbing. Cabrera said the former tennis courts located between the new library and the Crest Arts Pavilion project will become dedicated pickleball courts.
Mahon said the Preston Park project is the borough’s Green Team’s pet project. Located off Bayview Avenue, the park will be an environmental education park designed by the Green Team, which will include a diamond back terrapin education component. There will also be enhancements to a veterans’ memorial located at the site.
Mahon, who just participated in the annual League of Municipalities conference in Atlantic City, said Wildwood Crest was just awarded a Sustainable Jersey Bronze Award for outstanding environmental performance and programs. The borough also received the Rookie of the Year Award as a newly certified municipality.
“It’s neat to be given a special award,” Mahon said.

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