UPDATED: GWTIDA, Wildwood come to agreement on beach event fees

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A vote to rescind fees to be held April 23

WILDWOOD— After a war of words between  Morey's Piers and Mayor Ernie Troiano, Jr., GWTIDA announced Tuesday that an agreement had been reached between the authority and city that would keep key events on Wildwood’s beaches.

The Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority proposed the plan, which calls for the City of Wildwood to rescind a resolution calling for a new beach event fee plan that charged a per participant user fee in 2014, and to leave the 2013 fee structure in place for this year.

The mayor, GWTIDA board Chairman Tom Byrne and GWTIDA Executive Director John Siciliano worked together to reach the agreement.

Under the plan, GWTIDA would use tourism development fees collected from island-wide businesses to reimburse the City of Wildwood in 2014 for the fees that would have been collected had the resolution remained in place. GWTIDA is also working on a long term solution to event support for all of the island municipalities. In a statement, Byrne said that GWTIDA expects to present a plan at the end of 2014, and implement the strategy for the 2015 event season. 

Wildwood had passed a resolution March 12 instituting a fee schedule for beach events based on the number of participants an event draws. Under the city’s resolution, an event with fewer than 500 participants would have paid $4 per participant for a beach event permit. An event with more than 500 participants but less than 1,500 participants would have paid $3 per participant, and an event with more than 1,500 participants would have paid $2 per participant.

The reasoning for the fees, according to Troiano, was to help offset beach maintenance costs for the city. He wrote a letter stating that position on Monday.

Troiano’s letter came after Morey’s Piers President and CEO Will Morey had issued a public letter of his own stating that if Wildwood didn’t rescind the fees by a special meeting on Wednesday, April 16, they would move Cape Express Beach Blast Soccer to Wildwood Crest and Beach Jam, a beach camping trip for scouts, to North Wildwood.

The move, according to downtown Wildwood businesses, could have closed businesses and created “economic disaster.”

“It’s important to keep these events on the island, but more importantly to keep them in Wildwood, since so many businesses depend on the added revenue that these events generate each year,” Byrne said in a statement.

Byrne, Siciliano and Troiano reached the agreement together and Troiano has agreed to recommend that his fellow commissioners vote to rescind the resolution at their next regular Board of Commissioner’s meeting, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 23.

“We are happy to reach this compromise, resolve this issue and to have the city of Wildwood continue to host these events,” Troiano said in a release.

In a statement, Morey said that they supported the solution and events would not be moved.
“We are in full support of this agreement as it not only allows all of our beach events to stay in Wildwood, but it also helps to secure numerous other beach events,” he said.

He added that he was pleased the agreement respected the New Jersey Public Trust Doctrine and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, “in that any additional fees paid to Wildwood are based on the estimated costs associated with beach maintenance expenses that may not be necessary if beach events did not take place.”

“While we historically organize, set up, operate and maintain all aspects of our events, inclusive of restrooms and trash removal, we do acknowledge that occasionally there are other event site beach grading requirements,” Morey said. “Hence, the additional GWTIDA funds are designed to offset those additional expenses.”

The next regular Wildwood Board of Commissioners meeting is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. April 23 at City Hall, 4400 New Jersey Ave.

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