Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cape May County Airport (KWWD), Wildwood, New Jersey: Morey Speaks on Economic Development

By Art Hall 

 Our nation has been experiencing economic problems for several years now and as a result there are many people out of work and the average family income has gone down almost 10 percent. Cape May County certainly has not been insulated from this pain.

Several years ago a number of Cape May County citizens and I started meeting monthly to address tax issues in our county, calling ourselves Cape Issues. Because of the county’s need for jobs, this focus has been expanded to include economic development.

The Coalition of Community Organizations (COCA), under the leadership of Larry Kratzer, invited Freeholder Will Morey to speak to the group April 4, and accordingly a number of us from Cape Issues were present. I want to share here with you some of the topics he very briefly sketched out.

While a high-level sketch can come across as underwhelming, the ramifications over time hopefully will prove significant. Take the Open Space changes; to this point, we were setting aside our very scarce land exclusively for nature. Now it will include being held open for the people’s use.

Cape May County Airport. As a resource, it is vastly underutilized. The airport is run by the Delaware River Bay Authority. Under its new and creative director, Scott Green, the DRBA is now undertaking an upgrade of the facility, including securing a fixed-base operator, a company on site to run it, something which it has lacked for years.

An impediment to development which the county had to overcome was a pending Historic-Preservation application which would have encompassed much of the airport. Naval Air Station Wildwood and county government have now worked out a compromise which allows development to proceed. A significant advantage the airport property enjoys is that it is exempt from CAFRA regulations.

Open Space and Farmland Preservation.
The annual $4.8 million program is being recast to include parks, recreation and open spaces for festivals and events within the towns. A Wildwood project, for example, will have Open Space purchase the land, and the City of Wildwood be responsible for the other costs.

The change to Open Space will now allow for Historic Cold Spring Village to be eligible to apply for funding for enhancements.

Wineries. Due to the special soils and our latitude, Cape May County is a desirable wine-grape growing region. The Cape May County planning office and Leslie Gimeno is assisting in developing this potential.

Coast Guard.
There is an $80 million impact on our region by the base, according to an Atlantic Cape Community College study. The City of Cape May and the county are working with the Coast Guard in a formal effort to optimize the relationship for mutual benefit.

Signage. Leslie Gimeno of the county planning office is also working to assist visitors to our area by creating a common theme for directional signage.

South Jersey Economic Development District.
This board has been much in the news lately for going off-mission. Will Morey is now chairman. He took an active role here because of its ability to assist with infrastructure improvements.

NextGen (Next Generation Air Transportation System). The job market is gigantic, particularly with Congressman LoBiondo’s involvement as chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee. This has a short time-horizon of only several years before we see the fruit, and is only minutes away for Cape May County residents.

Strategic partnerships. The county sees the possibility for investments which will not move the tax needle up, yet help our economy to advance. Ocean County and Cape May, for example are short on parking facilities. The county could make investments along with those cities which would generate revenue to not only repay the investment, but bring a return long after the investment is repaid.

County Vocational Technical School. Morey was questioned as to why the school is backing away from providing the vocational education to students in such fields as plumbing, carpentry, electrician, etc. which are necessary for the needs of our county. He responded that he is in the process of learning, what do we have now, what is the mission of the school, and what is the delta.

COCA meets the first Thursday of the month at 2:00 PM in the Intermediate Room in the County Administration Building, 4 Moore Road, CMCH. For information contact Larry Kratzer, 368-0197.


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