Should North Wildwood change its name? Voters will decide in November
NORTH WILDWOOD — This shore city's residents will have a voice in deciding whether to keep their hometown's name or revert back to the original name of Anglesea.
Mayor Patrick Rosenello said the City Council voted on Tuesday night to have the county clerk put a nonbinding referendum question on November's ballot. Rosenello said they city is moving carefully towards any name change and researching out the steps involved. The city solicitor and clerk found that "in order to change the name of a municipality you must do a binding referendum question."
The city was originally founded as Anglesea in 1885 but changed its name to the borough of North Wildwood in 1906 and then became a city in 1917.
Ed Wheaton, a resident born and raised in North Wildwood who has been leading the name-change effort, was prepared to collect the required number of signatures for a binding question.
"I asked him not to proceed in that direction but instead asked him to support a nonbinding referendum so we could gauge the sentiment of the residents before a binding referendum," Rosenello said, who was concerned about a small margin between the two sides potentially splitting the town.
"Once we get their opinion through the election process we can decide if we want to proceed with the question or not," explained Rosenello.
"I am happy that we are moving forward," said Wheaton, who was born and raised in North Wildwood and moved away. He said he moved back seven years ago and got involved with the community. He was inspired to change the name after two successful Anglesea festivals celebrating the original name and give the city a "fishing village kind of feel."
He has nothing against the name North Wildwood but thinks the change would help give the city a better identity. "Right now a lot of people think we're just part of Wildwood. It would also give us a historical connection and a different feel," Wheaton said.
Rosenello said that the city has reached out to every New Jersey community that had changed their name since 2000 to learn about the process they followed and an idea of the costs involved.
"Legally, is it an expensive process? Operationally? Eventually you would have to change the lettering on police cars, fire trucks and public works vehicles. We're actually putting together a brief estimate as to what it would cost."
Wheaton plans to utilize an already existing Facebook page, Resdiscover Anglesea, and a brand new T-shirt design to promote the ballot and "return the city to its roots."
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com