Our posts are usually about what’s happening at Morey’s Piers; after all, there’s plenty going on here that’s worth sharing, and we love to be immersed in summer fun as much as you do! However, while our amusement parks and water parks are on an island, they’re not islands unto themselves; they’re part of a community including the boardwalk, the Wildwoods, and the surrounding towns and region.
With election season upon us, we think it’s a good time to zoom out and share with you a bit more context about the community we’re part of and how we work to make it a little bit better each year. As a company, we aim to be good citizens of the community around us; along with many of our company colleagues that give back in various ways, both Will and Jack Morey work toward this goal through their engagement in community projects and by holding local leadership roles. This is all in the effort to make the Cape May Peninsula a great place to live, and the extra benefit: great places to live make great places to visit.
WELCOME TO THE WILDWOODS
Jack is a volunteer and the Strategic Planning Chair for the Greater Wildwood Tourism Improvement and Development Authority (GWTIDA), an organization that promotes and supports the Wildwoods as a world-class vacation location.
For example, if you live in the area or visited us this summer, you noticed that the entry to the Wildwoods has been re-shaped in an impactful way; as you crest the bridge into Wildwood, you now see a line of distinctive curved streetlights that create a pathway to enter the city. A brand-new welcome sign greets you, and huge, vibrant beach balls are a feature of new streetscaping on Rio Grande Avenue, creating a path to the iconic “Wildwoods” sign by the beach. While it’s tempting to view such a project as pure fun, the reality is that landmarks and visuals like these are an important part of creating indelible vacation memories that drive families to return to the same destinations year after year. All of this was added to a core project, the focus of which was major improvements to flood mitigation and traffic flow.
This gateway project was a joint venture tackled by several agencies, including Cape May County government, the State of NJ, and GWTIDA, where Jack and team were focused, as they are so often, on how to make the project its best. (And, guess who was a leader on the County side?)
“Once I learned from Will that the new roadway project into Wildwood was in the queue, I was hopeful that we could work together to turn what is principally a flood and emergency evacuation project into a new Grand Gateway to the City”, said Jack Morey, “A Gateway that would visually connect to the existing WILDWOODS sign at the foot of the boardwalk that I helped to spearhead about 10 years ago.” For Jack, this is rooted in family tradition; Morey’s Piers often sponsors early concept drawings for projects in the Wildwoods, which the Moreys dream up from their research travels. “That all started with our father,” Jack explained. He devotes time to his role as the Strategic Planning Chair at GWITDA, and on projects like this one, because of his love of public spaces and his desire to improve the community for all residents and visitors.
The gateway project isn’t the only public space that Jack has had a hand in shaping, in collaboration with others; over the years he’s contributed to projects such as Crest Centennial Park, the conversion of the old Surfside Diner into the Doo Wop Experience, and more. The next project he’s contributing to is the Socratic Outdoor Learning Center of Wildwood (or SOLCOW), a community endeavor to improve the existing open space at the corner of New York Avenue and Poplar Avenue, in partnership with the City of Wildwood, the Glenwood Avenue School, and many community members.
The design for SOLCOW includes components meant to encourage children to ask questions about and learn from the world around them, including repurposing the existing flag pole to become a sundial, and placement of “beach ball” planets arranged to create a representation of our solar system. Socrates’s famous line is emblazoned on a plaque at the park: “To Find Yourself, You Must Think for Yourself”.
BUILDING BRIDGES: Between Landmasses … and People!
Will, who is more interested in the benefits of good governance than he is in politics, is a Cape May County Freeholder, (aka County Commissioner) part of a five-member board providing county-wide governance. In his role at the County, he oversees planning, economic development, engineering, transportation infrastructure, education, and open space and farmland preservation. To Will’s great delight (heavy sarcasm here), he gets to add campaigning to his calendar this fall as he is up for re-election this year.
For the past two years, with a team of colleagues in Cape May County government and other partners, Will has been working on creating the County’s first Comprehensive Bridge Replacement and Improvement Plan, which has now been officially adopted and is now being implemented. The plan prioritizes maintenance, complete replacement, and/or repairs for 28 bridges in Cape May County (yes, including those bridges with rusted railings connecting the Wildwoods to Cape May and to Stone Harbor).
“To risk stating the obvious, the bridges are of critical importance to us in Cape May County,” explained Will. “Not only are they an essential support for our inter-island tourism-based economy and the local businesses they serve, but crossing these bridges is also a part of daily life and routine for our County’s nearly 100,000 residents and 500,000 plus visitors in the County at any one time during the summer season.”
Will also works to build bridges in a metaphorical sense. In his role as Freeholder, he places emphasis on creating coalitions representing the broad and diverse perspectives of community members to help tackle challenges as they arise. When Covid-19 hit the County last spring, and there was no precedent on how to handle either the health effects of the pandemic or the associated business shutdowns, Will started by building a coalition.
Will was a Co-Chair of Cape May County’s Coronavirus Recovery Task Force, and was especially involved in a subcommittee of business leaders that worked together to create a comprehensive reopening proposal that was submitted to Governor Murphy, while maintaining the delicate balance of keeping residents and visitors as safe as possible from the effects of the virus. While New Jersey has taken a conservative approach to reopening, the County’s Task Force was ahead of the game and submitted the reopening proposal, complete with required safety protocols by industry, to the Governor on May 5th. The County’s subsequent “Safely Together” campaign was also conceived by the group to encourage COVID healthy behaviors by residents and tourists in a creative and attractive way.
Will’s also working on Wildwood-based projects. While our more mature readers may remember Pacific Avenue as bustling hub, the district has been struggling for many years. Walking down Pacific Ave today, you’ll see hopeful signs of life and bright spots in the form of a few functioning businesses, but you’ll also see too many vacant storefronts. Under Will’s guidance, the County has signed a Collaboration Agreement with the City of Wildwood to bring new life to the downtown center core while adding residential development north and south of that core. The project will feature new investment tax incentives, include improvements to public space, the purchasing and demolishing abandoned and/or distressed properties, and improving land for sale to developers, business owners, and future homeowners. (Even more brotherly collaboration is occurring on this project, as Jack contributes in his role as GWITDA’s representative for the redevelopment initiative!)
BUT WAIT …… THERE’S MORE!
The projects that Will and Jack choose to engage all have common purpose: community betterment. Improvements to public spaces, infrastructure, and more represent a boost to quality of life for residents and visitors alike. There’s always more that can be done, and the Moreys want to be part of community endeavours to address a wide variety of ideas and concerns. They grew up in Cape May County and have raised families here; their collective goal is to support the community that has supported them so much. With that in mind, check out other projects in which they’ve been involved, listed below:
Other stuff Will’s been up to:
- Co-chairing the County’s COVID Recovery Task Force’s work to support suffering Cape May County businesses,
- Redevelopment of County Airport into the Cape May Air + Innovation Port
- Pursuing businesses in the technology and innovation sector made possible by the newly completed first building of the Tech Village Campus,
- Open Spaces Trust’s Creative Placemaking Initiative,
- The County’s new “Coastal Shift” marketing campaign directed at attracting technology and innovation businesses to the region.
- Advocating for reconstruction of the boardwalk .
Other Stuff Jack’s been up to:
- Pursuing the creation of a beach “green space” as a part of the NJDEP/ Army Corp Dune Construction project for the Wildwoods,
- Wildwood Dog Park – new sculptural element made from repurposed Moreys Piers roller coaster parts, soon to be revealed!,
- Crest Centennial Park, now a popular venue for outdoor concerts,
- Doo Wop Experience Museum,
- Morey Field (ballpark, named in honor of Will & Jack’s parents), next to the Pan American Hotel,
- A hotel at the Wildwoods Convention Center, as has always been envisioned, is expected to be completed within the next several years. This will be an impetus for other improvements to follow!
We look forward to telling you more about these and future projects going forward!