UPDATED: Fee fight brewing in Wildwood

Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

File photo by Jen Marra. File photo by Jen Marra. So far, no beach events have been approved for the summer of ’14 

WILDWOOD—Events on Wildwood’s beaches bring in millions of dollars in tourism revenue every year. As of Monday, March 10, not a single one had been approved by the Board of Commissioners for summer 2014.

 According to Mayor Ernie Troiano, the city has held off on approving beach events until Wildwood and event holders, such as Morey’s Piers, had come to an agreement about beach event fees.

“There are some disagreements with some of the funding and some of the revenues the city is trying to collect for tax relief,” the mayor said Monday.

Wildwood is looking to change the fees charged for beach events to be based on the number of people expected to attend the event. For example, a flat fee would be charged for events with under 250 people, and a higher fee for those events with over 250 people, and so on.

But, some organizations and companies that host events have found the new fees to be too high.

Several sources, speaking off the record, have indicated that big event holders are willing to pay higher fees, but say those fees should reflect the real cost of the events to the city.

Some have even canceled their events.

One such is Coastal Broadcasting, which brought the alternative rock concert to Wildwood’s beach last summer. In a release to the media Monday, the company stated that it has pulled the plug on hosting any special events on Wildwood’s beachfront this summer.

“We inventoried all of the opportunities available to help promote tourism and business in the Wildwoods and throughout the county and moved in another direction,” a statement from the company reads. “Coupled with restrictive regulations now placed on special events on the city’s beachfront, we explored and found additional opportunities that would have a longer lasting beneficial impact for tourism and businesses then a onetime special event.”

Instead, the company has reached an agreement to have studios on the boardwalk this summer with Morey’s Piers. In an interview last week, Jack Morey said that Coastal Broadcasting will have a studio on Adventure Pier for 2014.

Wildwood’s mayor says that the higher fees are to help offset the expenses the city, and in turn, taxpayers pay for beach maintenance and city services in order for events to be held on the beaches.

“We’re all about helping the businesses,” Troiano said. “But I’m also about the guy who is on a fixed income on the other side of town who foots the bill to maintain those beaches.”

According to John Siciliano, executive director for the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority, the authority is working with the city and those that host events to find some sort of common ground.

Every year, the authority supports events around the Wildwoods with upward of $550,000 in event funding. If none of those events go on this summer, Siciliano said the consequences would be devastating.

“They are critical to the tourism economy,” he said. “We want to put ourselves in the position to make sure these events do happen.”

If they don’t, Siciliano said the local tourism economy would be losing out on millions of dollars from tourists and visitors.

In an emailed statement Tuesday, Morey's Piers said the public should expect events hosted by the organization to go on as scheduled this summer. 

"The Morey Organization is aware of the City’s proposal to significantly increase fees for events on the public beach," the statement reads. "We are working with GWTIDA and other local organizations and event sponsors to address this issue and are confident that a resolution will be achieved in the near future.  All of our events will proceed as scheduled."

Email Christie Rotondo at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or you can comment on this story at thewildwoodleader.com. 

blog comments powered by Disqus