OCEAN CITY – As the off-season approaches things in town begin to slow down and go into hibernation mode. Not so much for the Public Works Department, as this time of year opens their “window of opportunity” in Director Hal Adkins’ words.
“Though other individuals feel the summer is coming to a close and major special events are winding down, the Public Works Department is cranking full steam and we’re actually increasing our workload and most people would not realize that,” Adkins said.
According to Adkins, there are many projects in town underway, such as a five-unit corporate hanger under construction at the airport, a renovation of the Gorman Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant, repairs to the 200-million gallon water tank on 100th Street, 74th Street next to the fire house is being excavated to remove a 2,000 gallon fuel tank out of the ground due to the fire department converting their entire heat system, and on 135th street, the Montego Bay neighborhood and Sundowner Park, their underground storm drainage are being improved with new pipes and catch basins to address the historical flooding issue.
“We’ve got a lot going on and we’ve got a lot more on the drawing board that we haven’t done yet, that will carry us right into next summer,” Adkins said. “I have always looked at the day after labor day as my window of opportunity. At that point, my window is wide open, but it starts to close immediately because come next May my window is shut … we have to get a lot of infrastructure and maintenance related issues done while the majority of our visitors are gone. But, that season is basically only from October through the first of May, and even then it is controlled by Mother Nature and the weather we face.”
Construction and repairs isn’t the only thing on the Public Works Department’s “to do list”. With winter approaching, there are many preparations that come along with the switch in seasons.
“When it comes to winterization of the town, we have been well into it for the last couple weeks,” Adkins said.
Winterization of the town includes the extraction of the majority of barrels from the beach that are used for trash, the removal of ramps that lead into the sand for those who are physically disabled, cutting the sand down to create a lower elevation along the Boardwalk, installation of the black silk fence about two feet tall to help prevent the sand blowing onto the Boardwalk and removing signage along the beach and Boardwalk.
Also, this coming Sunday is the last day paid parking is enforced. The Public Works Department is responsible for removing all of the tallying machines on the side of the streets downtown, municipal parking lots and the inlet parking lot. All paid parking equipment will be disassembled and put away for winter starting on Monday.
Unlike many employers outside of Ocean City, vacation opportunities come in the time of winter months instead of summer.
“The majority of the maintenance division staff work seven days a week during the summer months. As we head into the off-season, they have earned vacation time,” Adkins said. “So we start loosing a third of the department at any given time in an effort to allow them to use up their accumulated leave before were busy again in the Spring.”
As one public works division’s workload decreases, another division’s workload increases. “We just shift gears, their really isn’t any slowing down,” Adkins said.