WILDWOOD — One of the city’s famed tramcars raced past 26th Street Wednesday, chipping off a piece of wood from a rotting board on the Boardwalk.
The board is one of hundreds that have begun to show their age.
Officials in Wildwood and North Wildwood are in the planning stages of a major project that would revamp the Boardwalk. The project, which currently has no timetable for completion, could replace large sections of rotting boards and the supporting concrete underneath to help continue the Boardwalk’s legacy as a staple of the Jersey Shore.
“We’ve spent tens of millions in infrastructure projects such as roads and bulkheads,” North Wildwood Mayor Pat Rosenello said. “And now, the Boardwalk is starting to come into focus.”
Estimates show that replacing one block of the Boardwalk would cost between $800,000 and $1 million, according to Rosenello and Commissioner Pete Byron.
On Wednesday, Wildwood commissioners introduced a resolution at their regular meeting declaring the “repair and refurbishing of (the) Boardwalk a municipal priority.”
It wouldn’t be the first time the Boardwalk has undergone a major overhaul. About 10 years ago, large sections of the boardwalk were replaced near Cedar Avenue and others near Schellenger Avenue.
But fixing the Boardwalk isn’t as easy as ripping up boards and nailing down new ones. There is concrete as well as power, gas and other utility lines that run its length and are expensive to maintain and replace.
Rosenello said the Boardwalk project would be included in the city’s capital budget with any other infrastructure plan. Because of that, it would be done in phases so taxpayers aren’t hit with a huge increase, he added.
“We are going to plan this out and budget for it,” Rosenello said. “It’s not going to happen in one swoop.”
Byron said commissioners will be careful not to put the entire cost of the project on the taxpayers. They will work to find grants that will help pay for it, he said.
Rosenello said he is unaware of any grants that would help specifically with the boards, but noted there are grants that could fund some of the infrastructure under the Boardwalk.
Meanwhile, municipal workers will aggressively deal with any maintenance issues that may occur.
On Wednesday, Dean Allen, an employee for Wildwood’s Department of Public Works, ripped up three rotting boards near Sam’s Pizza Palace and replaced them with new ones. Now retired from the Fire Department, Alan comes to the Boardwalk every day to take care of maintenance issues and make sure it remains safe for residents and tourists.
“All things considered, it’s held up pretty good,” Allen said. “People don’t realize that it’s always subjected to the weather — rain, wind, sun … everything.”
Anthony Zuccarello, co-owner of Sam’s Pizza Palace on the Boardwalk, said any Boardwalk renovation will be good for business.
John Gigliotti, supervisor and operator of the tramcars, said he thinks it’s time.
“There are only two things we have to offer here: the beach and the Boardwalk,” he said. “The beach is in good shape, but the Boardwalk could use a good overhaul.”