OCEAN CITY – Three more canals were added to the to-do list this week as Ocean City moves forward with the much anticipated and high-priority canal dredging project.
City Engineer Terry McGean came before the Mayor and City Council on Wednesday afternoon to amend the existing dredging contract with Hi-Tide Marine to include dredging canals at 25th street and on the east and west sides of Tern Dr., covering 5,214 cubic yards at the price of $47 per cubic yard, totaling $245,058.
McGean explained in October of 2013 the council made its first move on the canal dredging project. The council appropriated $500,000 from the city’s fund balance and awarded Hi-Tide Marine the bid to conduct the first phase of canal dredging in February.
“By the time we were able to get all the procurement documents together and get a contract awarded, we basically had about 15 days before the federal government was going to shut us down for restrictions for flounder. They won’t let us dredge basically after April 1, so we weren’t able to get the dredging started until this fall,’ McGean said.
The first phase of canal dredging currently underway includes Canal #19, which is at Trimpers and Hitchens avenues; Canal #29, which is 48th Street surrounded by the Wight Bay Condominium; and Canal #21, which is on the south side of 52nd Street.
The contract also includes four large storm drain outfalls where the sediment from those outfalls is plugging the canals. The four outfalls are located on Seaweed Lane, Tunnel Ave., Sinepuxent Ave. and Jamaica Ave.
“The first three canals were the shallowest canals, so they were our top priority, and the outfalls we received historic complaints about,” McGean said.
McGean furthered the council approved $250,000 in the current Fiscal Year 2015 budget for additional dredging, and Hi-Tide Marine has agreed to hold its bid unit price to dredge additional canals this season.
“I looked at out canal priority list … and tried to find some canals that would approach that total and were relatively in the same general area as where Hi-Tide is working now. I identified three canals,” he said.
The first canal is located at 25 1/2 Street where the old Misty Harbor Motel was once located. The property is currently vacant and the bulkhead was recently improved.
The second canal is between Tern and Plover drives, and third canal is between Tern Dr. and the back side of Jolly Roger Amusement Park.
According to McGean, the bulkhead between Tern and Plover is generally in good condition but not so much behind Jolly Roger that has moved up in priority between the effects of the Robin Drive Shore Line Project and Hurricane Sandy.
“Is it ready to collapse? No, they have done some structural repairs. However, it is leaking. This is a tough one because on other canals when we have failing bulkheads on both sides you would have an incentive for those people because they are docking their boats. At Jolly Roger. no one is docking boats in that canal, and it is a very long stretch of bulkhead we are talking about,” McGean said. “If we say we are not going to dredge this canal until the bulkhead is repaired or replaced, it will be quite some time because it is not at the point where we would condemn it. It is in that grey area, and in this case you would be penalizing the people on the east side of Tern for something they necessarily don’t have a lot of control over.”
Councilman Doug Cymek suggested McGean speak with the Jolly Roger property owner who could be amenable to interim bulkhead repairs.
“Knowing the owner, I would say, yes, and I would be happy to go down there and try to work something out,” McGean said.
Mayor Rick Meehan recalled when canal dredging discussions arrived it was noted the canals without decent bulkheads should not be prioritized.
“We want to make sure when we dredge the canals it would be effective, and for it to be effective as it can possibly be that would be the right thing to do,” he said.
Councilman Wayne Hartman asked where the town stands with the canal dredging schedule.
McGean responded with the first phase just now being conducted and lack of funding the town is behind schedule.
“It will take seven years to get all of the high-priority canals done. I have permitted the first three years’ worth of canals. We would like to be able to spend $500,000 to $600,000 per year to reach that goal. The first year we took $500,000 out of fund balance. This current year we appropriated $250,000, so we are behind this year,” he said.
The council voted unanimously to approve the amendment to the existing canal contract to include dredging canals at 25th Street and on the east and west sides of Tern Dr.
“I have already had a gentleman come up to me to thank us for finally beginning the dredging process. He understood it had been a long time coming but he was happy that it had begun … we can now see the light at the end of the canal as things are moving forward,” the mayor said.