Engineer Defends Northside Park Project

OCEAN CITY –

After coming under some fire for approving a new “press box” at Northside Park, resort officials this week

defended the project and clarified it will be much more than its name implies.

Included in a budget
amendment passed by the Ocean City Council is a $585,000-plus expenditure for a
new press box at the Northside
Park athletic fields.
While the line item in the budget amendment refers to the project as a press
box, City Engineer Terry McGean explained to the Mayor and Council on Monday
the new facility will replace the decades-old existing facility, which has
outlived its usefulness in recent years and will be cheaper to replace then to
rehabilitate.

The building in question
is situated between the three softball diamonds at Northside Park.
Its first floor includes a kitchen from which concessions are sold during
events at the park as well as restrooms and some storage space. The second
floor has windows looking out over the three ball fields and is used by
scorekeepers and announcers during regular league play and tournaments and
other events.

McGean explained the
project has come under fire from some circles because it is referred to as a
press box in budget documents and has therefore been deemed excessive.

“It is an unfortunate
name, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with the press,” he said. “The
building has so many other important functions and it really needs to be
replaced. For one thing, the restrooms are not ADA compliant.”

In addition, McGean
pointed out the existing kitchen is not code compliant and the windows on the
second floor leak, causing the wood to rot. McGean said bringing the restrooms
and kitchen into compliance were reason enough to approve the project, adding
the kitchen produces $50,000 a year in revenue on concessions.

“The architect and the
engineers have examined it to see if it would be cost effective to rehabilitate
and renovate it,” he said. “The consultants found it would be more cost effective
to demolish the old one and build a new one.”

The new building will
have large, ADA-compliant restrooms on the first floor, along with a larger
code-compliant kitchen. On the second floor, the scorekeeper areas will be
roughly the same size as in the existing building, but more space for storage
will be added.

The building including
the kitchen will be fitted with a sprinkler system, which the current building
does not have.

“There are more things
that go into this than meet the eye,” said McGean. “We have to follow the code
and we have to make sure everything is ADA
compliant.”

 

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