How would you like this guy's job?
Strathmere prefers to stay anonymous
By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer, 609-463-6712
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2007 - Press of Atlantic City
UPPER TOWNSHIP - Meet Strathmere, the anti-Ocean City. This is a town so reclusive and introverted that it is lobbying to keep its name off its own water tower. This coastal hamlet in Upper Township is perhaps the least-publicized resort on the New Jersey coastline. And residents here want to keep it that way.
"It's the schtick that we've been anonymous all these years and we like it that way," resident Ken Weaver said. Weaver came up with the idea for the locally popular oval car magnet for Strathmere that reads: "Shhh." He approached the Township Committee on the mainland this month with an odd request: keep the baby-blue water tower unlettered when it is repainted this fall.
Unlike Ocean City to the north or Sea Isle City to the south, Strathmere has little to offer tourists except for ample sun and sand. There is no Boardwalk, promenade or amusement park. There are precious few public bathrooms. The few businesses here play on Strathmere's perceived invisibility. "Find us if you can!" proclaims the Web site for Twisties Tavern on the Bay, a seasonal business now closed.
But not everyone is ready to sign Strathmere up for the FBI's witness-protection program. "Everyone knows where Strathmere is," resident Terry Henes said. "Especially now." Henes was referring to Strathmere's much-ballyhooed effort to secede from the mainland and join Sea Isle City, with which it shares a barrier island. The secession petition and the resulting lawsuit no doubt raised this town's public profile. Stories about the split were published in the state's largest newspaper.
"I know what it should say," resident Mike Mazzeo said of the island's water tower. "Strathmere, Upper Township's cash cow." The island represents nearly 18 percent of the mainland township's tax base but fewer than 300 of its 11,363 residents.
Weaver said he has mixed feelings about the secession - for particularly Strathmere reasons.
"I worry about becoming part of Sea Isle City and having rules," he said, referring to the penchant by barrier islands to discourage everything from dog walking on the beach to midnight strolls in the surf. The people who live on this narrow spit of sand and million-dollar beachfront homes are jealously protective of their idyll. But judging from the thousands of people who flock to its beaches every summer to soak in the island's natural beauty, the secret is probably out.
"There's nothing hard about living in Strathmere," Henes said. "It's easy. It's Mayberry by the beach."