Crossing Wildwood’s gigantic beaches is a daunting trek for some after what may have already been a lengthy walk from their car.
“It’s a long haul,” said Rose Brennan of Northeast Philadelphia. “And the beach just keeps going, going, going.”
Yet after two years of planning and weather-related delays, change is coming. The city is set to open a beach parking area that officials say could easily fit 1,000 cars. The beach parking is expected to begin the weekend before Memorial Day.
The lot will be at Baker Avenue between the Wildwoods Convention Center and Morey’s Adventure Pier. The new parking option allows you to drive right onto the sand at Baker Avenue, as long as your vehicle has four-wheel drive.
“The fee will be $10 a day,” Wildwood City Commissioner Pete Byron said. “And we have $20 for special events. We’ll be open 10 to 6. We picked 6 because the lifeguards traditionally go off at 5:30.”
It takes approximately five minutes to walk from the parking area to the water’s edge. If that’s too long for you, a city beach shuttle will pick you up and bring you to your favorite spot on the sand for an extra $3 each way.
“It’s a help because to me it seems like it’s two miles to walk,” said Cookie Cunningham of Rio Grande, New Jersey.
City leaders believe the parking fees will bring in more than $100,000 this year to help offset some of the cost of maintaining Wildwood’s otherwise free beaches.
“It’ll be a convenience to the vacationers and also add to our bottom line,” Byron said.
Not everyone is on board with the plan however.
“I think it’s a bad idea,” said Robert Trivisonno, a Boardwalk business owner. “There’s one way in. How about if 10 or 15 cars are pulling in for the weekend and how about if 10 cars want to leave? How are they going to get in and out?”
Wildwood isn't the first Jersey Shore town to permit beach parking. Brigantine started offering sand lot parking in 2007.