OCEAN CITY – The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday approve the Beach Walk Hotel owner’s request to apply for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), which will allow for the elevation of the flood prone building.
Beach Walk Hotel owner Danelle Amos, Planner Robert W. Nelson and Grants Coordinator Wayne Pryor came before the Mayor and Council at Tuesday’s work session to discuss the Maryland Emergency Management Agency’s (MEMA) program that could provide 75 percent of the funding necessary to raise the building.
According to the FEMA-regulated HMGP website, “the HMGP provides grants to states and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration.”
The program seeks to provide funding to areas after disasters such as flooding. In 2000, the national plan was implemented and trickled down to the local level in July 2004, when the Ocean City HMGP was approved.
The website defines the purpose of the grant program as “to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measure to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster.”
Nelson explained that HMGP projects could be funded for acquisition, retrofitting, or elevation. Acquisition applies to real property for willing sellers and demolition or relocation of that properties building to be used for open space. Retrofitting structures helps to minimize damages from high natural hazards. Elevation of buildings or structures, which is what Amos will be applying for, is established for flood prone structures, such as the Beach Walk Hotel.
Pryor explained to the Mayor and Council that although the grant involves a 75/25 split, with 75 percent coming from the HMGP, the city would not be liable for matching the 25 percent.
Nelson informed the council that the grant could be applied to public or to private properties and that all jurisdictions in Maryland were qualified for the $1.25 million grant.
Currently, six applications have been submitted for the HMGP, with Amos included as one of the six.
Pryor explained that although the city was needed as the vehicle for the request, time constraints had made it necessary to turn in the application prior to the city’s consent. Pryor assured the Mayor and Council, however, the application could be pulled from review.
Although counties are prioritized each year for the grant money, no applications had been filed yet from the counties with higher priority, placing Amos as an equal candidate.
The Beach Walk Hotel, located on 10th Street, 150 feet from the ocean, is currently valued at $1.77 million as of Jan. 1. If the elevation is approved, Amos will have three years to use the money awarded. Nelson added that the process would be documented for future applicants and used as a model for the town.
Nelson listed the possible affects as, bringing the building to compliance with the building and fire codes, protecting the structure from flooding as well as avoiding repetitive loss from flooding.
If chosen, the property will be the first private property mitigation effort in Ocean City. Although the potential height elevation has not been set yet, Amos estimated that the building would be raised 10 to 12 feet.
The Mayor and Council showed no objections to the effort, approving the request unanimously.