After a pleasantly mild winter, the prospect of a manageable spring seemed inevitable. It wasn’t. Spring was annoyingly chilly here in Cape May County, with long sleeve shirts, sweaters and jackets the norm. There was even one stretch of 13 straight days of measurable rainfall. Yuch!
Finally, a week before Memorial Weekend, the weather turned and out came the shorts, tee shirts and sandals.
Memorial Weekend’s weather is locally considered the forecaster of summer. A good weekend means a good summer, and a bad weekend of weather leads to a bad summer of weather. With temperatures hitting 90 degrees, this Memorial Weekend is seemingly foretelling a great summer. Let’s hope so.
The powers to be (PTB) tortured locals one last time in the 10 days leading up to Memorial Weekend. After a month or so of inactivity, they picked this busy time to do the finish coat of asphalt on the new GSP project stretching from Mile Marker 12 to beyond Exit 9.
Traffic was reduced to one lane and the logjam of vehicles stretched for over a mile. A few times, they completely closed off entrance to the GSP southbound from Exits 11 to 6. The only vehicles allowed were those who were coming from farther north.
Needless to say, this caused massive backups on Route 9 through Middle Township. Kids were late getting to school and adults were delayed getting to work. To add insult to injury, the PTB in their infinite wisdom gave no indication that the GSP southbound entrances were closed. They let cars get all the way to the entrance before turning them back, causing more delays and backups.
Hopefully this 3½ year construction project is finally coming to an end. Sometimes locals wonder if all the inconvenience was worth the results. But, yes, it has made traveling the GSP much less painful since eliminating the three traffic lights.
Meanwhile, construction at Exit Zero continues. We’re not sure exactly what they hope to accomplish there. It appears that the traffic light in the southbound lane will still be used, making this little more than a boondoggle. With no overpasses in the picture, the same traffic has to cross the same lanes. Since heading to Diamond Beach and Wildwood Crest also will still have its traffic light, what was the point of all this construction?
The year-round population of Cape May County continued its five year slide in 2015.
In 2010, the population was 97,263. In 2011, it fell to 96,597, then to 96,447 in
2012. By 2013 it had fallen to 95,896, then to 95,359 in 2014 and now 94,727 in 2015.
The reasons are complex. Since Cape May County offers little in year-round employment, the college-educated young adults who grew up here are fleeing to metropolitan areas to seek jobs that pay commensurate with their expectations.
The same lack of year-round jobs is also causing families without college education parents to head to areas that offer manufacturing jobs and more service jobs. Being laid off four months of the year from your job in Cape May County only lets families survive, not thrive.
The anticipation two decades ago that the county would turn into a retirement haven never materialized. The quality entertainment, shopping and restaurant venues are too far away. While the low key retirement offered here suited some, others fled to be closer to the action.
While Cape May Court House has ample medical facilities to take care of the retired, the unpredictability of the winter weather also led many to head south to milder climates.
As the lazy days of summer approach, Cape May County’s attractions and tourist venues get in full swing. No matter what your interest is, you can scratch that itch somewhere in the county.
The kids want to see some animals? Take them to the free County Zoo, located off GSP Exit 11. It’s a great zoo with a wide variety of species. And it’s tailor-made to keep kids and adults interested and learning about the animals who share our world.
There’s also the Wetlands Institute at GSP Exit 10 in Middle Township, with a staff eager to teach about the shore species. For more communing with nature, there’s Cape May Point State Park and its exhibits and world class bird watching. And if you want to see nature on your own terms, there are hiking trails throughout the area, including Belleplain State Park, and plenty of kayak and canoe rental shops on the back bays.
For the sports minded, there are basketball courts, tennis courts, 10 golf courses, and fitness centers located throughout the county. You can always work up a sweat if you want.
What would summer at the shore be without a cruise on one of the half-dozen Boardwalks? I’m not sure what’s better – stopping for a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone, or people watching. Maybe a bit of both!
Of course, there’s the beach and ocean. After all, isn’t that why you really came?
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