Ventnor fishing pier reels them in

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The pier opened Saturday, and discount memberships will be available through May 31

VENTNOR – City Commissioner Stephen Weintrob was optimistic Tuesday when talking about the reopening of the city fishing pier for the season May 1.
As of Monday more than 50 memberships had been sold, and 15 were new members.
“That thrills me to death to get new members,” Weintrob said Tuesday. “Most of the people from last year will come back, but to get an increase is wonderful.”
On a sunny Wednesday morning May 5, Victor Maene stepped out onto the fishing pier with his new membership key and his friend Adrian Bently, who was visiting his former hometown from the Bahamas.
Maene, who lives in Ventnor, said he joined because he was looking for another place for recreation and relaxation.
“I have a Hobie permit and I was looking for another enjoyable thing to do, and I used to fish up here as a kid,” he said.
Paul Spina, also of Ventnor, has been a happy member since the 1970s. He was looking for striper Wednesday morning.
Although as much as he enjoys it, he said some of the amenities the pier had before the renovation, such as a clubhouse with lockers and a bathroom at the ocean end of the pier, are missed.
“With a clubhouse, you can just bring your bait in a cooler and come out here and fish,” Spina said.
Bob Gebhardt of Elk Township, who has been a member of the pier for three years, said a few more benches and a clubhouse would be nice.
“I think they should put a bathroom out here, and a clubhouse – somewhere to go if it gets windy or rainy,” he said Tuesday.
Gebhardt, also trying to catch striper, passed the time talking to a few other men who were waiting for luck to strike.
“Look at it. It’s calm, nice. The guys up here are nice – and it’s a day out,” he said.
The pier is short two benches that have not yet been replaced after being thrown off the pier by vandals earlier this year.
According to Weintrob, the Police Department and the city’s insurance carrier are still investigating the claim.  
Weintrob has proposed putting security cameras on the pier and and a weather station, which could help generate revenue.
“I’m going to ask for it again, and we might be able to do it by the end of the summer,” Weintrob said.
He said the clubhouse and lockers members are looking for and even a concession stand might not be far off.
He said the city just received $2.1 million in Green Acres funds, $600,000 in grant money and $190,000 in Atlantic County Open Space funding – all of which could be used toward improving the pier.
He said the Department of Environmental Protection told the city there is loan and grant money available.
“It seems there are enough people on board to volunteer to put a concession stand and locker room with grant money from state that may not cost the city anything.”
In the meantime, the pier is open for fishing season with piermaster Emile Conti working 8 a.m.-4 p.m. every day. Daily and annual memberships are available; the rates are the same as last year.
Daily water temperature and tide information are available in the piermaster’s quarters.
The only remaining publicly owned fishing pier in the state, the Ventnor pier received a $3.7 million rehabilitation that was completed in July 2008. Last year brought two inaugural Hooked on Fishing tournaments for children and the disabled in September and August, and there are plans for more events this summer.
The city was incorporated in 1903 and the first pier was completed in 1914. It was replaced by a pier with a larger pavilion and municipal auditorium, often featured in 1920s era postcards. It was destroyed by fire in 1940, and a rebuilt pier was destroyed by a nor’easter in 1962.
Photos of the piers can be seen in the city historical museum at the Library and Cultural Arts Center.
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Membership rates
Annual memberships include a key

Prior to May 31
$175 for adults
$150 for senior citizens
$40 for children and spectators  

After May 31

$225 for adults
$200 for senior citizens
$40 for children and spectators

Daily rates

$20 for adults
$10 for children and senior citizens

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