By Brandon Goldner

WILDWOOD, N.J. (CBS) — The City of Wildwood will officially open the first phase of a $35+ million project to rehabilitate sections of its century-old boardwalk. The $4 million first phase of construction, which occurred between Maple and Oak Avenues, officially opens Friday at 3:30 p.m.

It includes new concrete piers and slabs, timber replacement, and new handrails.

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After an April 2020 windstorm tore up a section of boardwalk in the southern part of the city, Mayor Pete Byron said they wanted to be proactive and rehabilitate the city’s older boardwalk sections.

“It’s hugely important because [if] any sections of this boardwalk gets shut down, that could affect half a dozen businesses, which are just May through October businesses,” Mayor Byron said. “You can’t make up those lost days so I think everybody’s pretty happy.”

Business owners on the boardwalk are particularly happy the project was completed ahead of schedule.

Douglass Candies’ manager Luba Cordero noted the opening comes on Mother’s Day Weekend, which is typically busy for them.

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“We’re very happy about that. We were thinking that it’s going to be later during the season,” Cordero said. “We were thinking ‘yes, how are we going to take all these customers? How are we going to be open?'”

While Douglass’ Candies used a side entrance to bring in customers, many neighboring businesses, including Mack’s Pizza, didn’t have that option and shut down last October.

Mack’s Pizza manager Pete Riess said they had to work out of their other location during construction.

“It will be nice to open this now that the piers are opening,” Riess said. “See the people out on the boardwalk.”

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The city expects to receive an additional $7.2 million to begin rehabbing five blocks of the boardwalk from Maple to 26th Streets starting in the fall.

Brandon Goldner