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How Wildwood Makes Up for No Beach Fees

WILDWOOD — While you pay $5, $7 or $10 to step on the sand in most Jersey Shore towns, New Jersey’s largest beach is among the few without a fee.

Wildwoods sign (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)
Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ

We spoke to the man in charge to see how the city has been getting away with such a bold move — a move not everyone is on board with.

“Some people would just say we’re stupid that you would allow that kind of revenue not to come into your coffers,” Mayor Ernie Troiano, Jr. told New Jersey 101.5. “And I think that in some regard they’re probably correct.”

But would the same number of people be willing to trudge through hundreds of yards of sand to hit the ocean if a fee were attached? The mayor thinks not.

Charging for beach access, Troiano added, would also erase the estimated $300,000 received from the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority to help offset cleanup expenses on the sand.

And while out-of-towners may not actually exchange cash for access to the beach, they’re contributing to the economy in other ways, such as hotel stays, restaurant meals and trips to the boardwalk, he noted.

There’s no shortage of visitors, by the way. Two soccer events on the beach bring up to 50,000 players, and another 18,000 show up for an ultimate frisbee tournament. The sand is also the venue for kite-flying festivals, concerts, monster truck events and an antique car race that attracts worldwide attention.

“If somebody’s coming down with a dollar in their pocket, and we get 70 to 80 cents of that … we’re happy to get whatever we can get,” Troiano said. “I’ve always thought of the blue-collar, the factory worker, the guy who has his own business and is barely making ends meet, but he wants to bring his family on vacation.”

Troiano said no place uses their beaches like Wildwood has and does.

The city is in the process of introducing on-beach parking for vehicles with four-wheel drive. The fee is $10 daily and $20 on event days.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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