OCEAN CITY — After staff searched for a replacement for the Boardwalk tram destroyed by a fire last month, the Ocean City Mayor and Council agreed this week to buy a jeep to utilize this summer.
A couple weeks ago, one of the eight Ocean City tram motor units caught fire once it was finished fueling when the driver attempted to turn over the ignition. As a result of the blaze, staff has been left to find a replacement in the short weeks leading up to the busy season.
The tram motor unit was purchased in 2003 for $99,000. Trams International in California offered a new tram motor unit at the minimum price of $130,000 to be delivered within the next month.
With the purchase of a new unit being unrealistic, staff began looking into replacing the unit with a Jeep, which is how the trams coach units were pulled prior to the purchase of the motor units. A Jeep is the only vehicle to be found that can make the tight U-turn on the Boardwalk at 27th Street.
Purchasing Director Joe Sobczak has searched all Jeep dealers within a 100-mile radius of Ocean City. The best deal he came across is a base model Jeep Wrangler at Barrett in Berlin that is willing to sell the vehicle to the town for $28,100. All other Jeeps found were being offered in the price range of $35,000-$47,000.
Once the Jeep arrives, it will have to be modified to fit and pull two coach units, which will cost an additional $10,000.
Public Works Director Hal Adkins recommended the Jeep be purchased using funds from the Equipment Trust Fund and the additional $10,000 be used from savings in the Transportation Department.
“Probably two years from now should the Mayor and city Council choose to replace the tram units as a whole, it would be my presumption the Jeep would be transferred to the Ocean City Beach Patrol in lieu of a replacement vehicle they will be requesting at that time and it would have beneficial use for the rest of its life,” Adkins said.
The council voted unanimously to approve the purchase of the Jeep Wrangler.