Friday, September 22, 2023

Surfing Beach in Wildwood Crest

By Christopher Pisano, Wildwood Crest

To the Editor:

Regarding a June article about our surf beach on Topeka in the Crest. There have been two struggles with this simple problem. The one is the continuous battle between taxpayers and full-time registered voters. I am sure this occurs in much of our New Jersey coast, but the reality through the lens of data is clear.

The Crest has 5,755 housing units of which 1,800 are full-timers. Over 50% fall below the poverty line for household income; 31.4% of tax revenue comes from full-time residents versus 68.6% from other homeowners and hotels. The non-full-time homeowners (such as myself) make up more than two-thirds of all revenue. There needs to be mutual respect between the two groups.

The second concern is the simple ignorance on the sport and lifestyle of surfing. Having surfed now for 19 years with the same people and travelling the globe for waves, it is not just a social sport, it is far more.

For the past two years at the new surf beach, we have watched kids from 7 years old and up learn the patterns of the ocean. The tides, the moon phases, the sand bars, the wind direction, and the list continues. I know this because many times, I am the one teaching it. These young surfers are so hungry to learn more than just riding a board. In addition, they are in the best shape physically versus more sedentary persons in their age group.

We are in a world that constantly criticizes young people for spending too much time on social media, video games, and streaming television. Out there, there is none of that (in fact, I am the only one that wore a watch this summer to tell them when our time is up). These kids ask about dolphins, sharks, skates, and other sea life. They have dolphins within feet of them. It’s heaven and exactly what these kids should be doing in the formative years of their lives.

So here we are, residents showing concern over a small portion of beach that allows the development of all of us and a lifetime passion to grow. The true reality is that when a map is used to determine how much a person would need to deviate from their normal straight walking line to meet a spot on either side of the surfing beach, it is less than 45 degrees right or left, and then in that same straight line, adding mere feet to the walk.

I loved the compromise of that extra hour. I think most of us would stop writing letters to our elected officials. It is tough to compromise when the objections are against a lifestyle that is not understood.

In the end, it comes down to peaceful practice. To take a famous quote: “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.”


Wildwood Crest

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