Cape May’s Arches Debate: Lovers and Haters Sound Off
Should Cape May build more arches along the promenade or are the six that were erected last winter more than enough?
That is a subject that divides those who love Cape May, with both sides thinking it seems fairly obvious they are right. You either love 'em or you hate 'em. No one seems undecided.
Why Bother With Arches At All?
The answer is a nod to the history of the town. Cape May had arches over the promenade from the early1900s until the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 took them out to sea.
Two groups are interested in restoring the look of the beachfront walkway -- Cape May's Historic Preservation Commission and the nonprofit Fund For Cape May -- which picked up most of the cost of the first six arches.
How Many More Arches Do They Want to Add?
Eventually, 16 more arches spaced about 150 feet apart. But Fund For Cape May is interested in starting with ten more in the next phase of the operation, concentrating on the commercial area of the promenade.
A second phase would add six more arches to the east, extending to Madison Avenue, where the Promenade ends. This last set of arches has been most contentious because the arches would enter residential areas.
What Are The Objections to the Arches?
People who don't like them think they are ugly and cost prohibitive at $25,000 each, bringing the price tag for 22 total arches to about $550,000.
Other objections at a July 18 city council meeting included: the arches blocking the view of the ocean, leading to lower property values, and the possibility of the arches getting washed out to sea again during a future storm.
Are There Other Considerations?
Yes. The existing lights and electoral wires are supposed to be buried under the promenade and the telephone poles removed giving the look a older, more Victorian feeling.
What's Some of the Feedback About the Frist Six Arches?
Well, get ready for social media at its finest. These comments are from the Cape May Instagram page...
"After having a family home there for 46 years, that's a big no from me."
"Any piece of architecture that needs to be draped in fabric to look better falls way short of the mark. And the 70s round light on the middle of each arch has nothing to do with the Victorian aesthetic of Cape May."
"As someone who at one time was a resident, not tourist, of Cape May, I absolutely love the historical integrity these new arches bring to the promenade."
"LOVE THIS so much! Honorable, and classy!!"
"As a lifelong resident I think they look horrible- gilding the lily. Theybare very wildwood and not at all in line with the more natural and subdued cape may vibes."
"I love them! Love that they keep the historic esthetic and create a beautiful focal point. I hope they stay well maintained like the rest of Cape May."