Wildwood Crest Office:
Phone: (609) 729-8505
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Cape May County is a peninsula located in the southernmost tip of New Jersey. The year round population is 100,000, swelling to 750,000 during the summer tourist season. The county has 16 municipalities, with five on the mainland and 11 on the barrier islands. The mainland communities, south to north, are Lower Township, Middle Township, Dennis Township, Woodbine, and Upper Township. The barrier island communities, south to north, are Cape May Point, West Cape May, Cape May, Wildwood Crest, Wildwood, West Wildwood, North Wildwood, Stone Harbor, Avalon, Sea Isle City, and Ocean City.
The county is roughly 32 miles long. The mainland averages 5 miles wide, with the mile-wide barrier islands located three or four miles to the east across the back bay and tidal estuaries. The county is located in the Atlantic Flyway, and is an important stopover grounds for migrating birds. Bird watchers - or birders as they are called - bring $54 million to the economy each year. Whale watching, dolphin watching, and sport fishing are also popular venues.
Cape May County's economy, obviously, is based on tourism. Filled to capacity Memorial Day to Labor Day, the concentration is now on attracting more visitors in the shoulder seasons - April, May, September, and October. Cape May County's weather is conducive to tourism. Surrounded by water on three sides, the weather patterns vary tremendously from the rest of the state. Winters are mild and golf courses are open nearly year round. Most winters have a total snowfall accumulation of less than 10 inches. And yes, it doesn't stay on the ground very long.
The county has a charm that attracts many to leave the rat race and settle here. Cape May has over 600 Victorian era buildings, the Wildwoods boast wide beaches and summer fun, Avalon and Stone Harbor are the playgrounds of the upscale, and Middle township has the impressive yet free County Zoo. The attractions are too numerous to name them all. The new $68 million Wildwood Convention Center has opened new avenues to businesses, especially in the off-season.
Cape May County is also a victim of its success. Water is such a precious commodity that the county's future growth must be examined, planned for, and limited. With no reservoirs, residents rely on underground aquifers for all their freshwater. But the aquifers are being pumped out so rapidly that saltwater from the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay is advancing 300 feet per year into the aquifers from three directions. Already the City of Cape May has had to build a desalinization plant just to make its aquifer freshwater usable. Lower Township and the Wildwoods will be the next to have their shared aquifer tainted by saltwater intrusion. Population increases just magnify and intensify the county's freshwater problems, so Cape May County is experiencing the typical environmentalists vs developers political battles. The outcome will determine the county's fate, and what level of quality of life we will leave for our grandchildren and generations yet unborn.