OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and Council approved the 3,600-square-foot expansion of the Public Safety Building on Tuesday, nearly two years after the expansion was first proposed.
City Engineer Terry McGean came before the council to request approval of the new plan for expansion of the building located on 65th Street.
McGean explained the original plan for expansion was approved in 2005, but was never brought to fruition. The original plan, prepared for the 2005 Bond Issuance, was estimated at $875,000. McGean explained that complications arose when the project was bid out at costs nearing $1.5 million, well over budget.
McGean attributed the high bid prices to a poor bid environment and competing projects occurring in the city at the time, which included the work on Bayshore Drive and the 9th Street Comfort Station.
As a result, the Public Safety Building expansion was put on hold indefinitely, with the allocated funds being used for building repairs and work on Bayshore Drive.
McGean explained that with city construction slowing, there should be room for better bids on the project.
“I think we can expect some more competitive pricing now,” McGean said.
The original plan called for a relocation of the gym to the expanded space with a conversion of the old gym space into offices. Three additional offices were also to be added to the expanded second floor space and the IT department was to be expanded into the 3rd floor of the new plan.
The new plan will leave the gym where it is currently located and will move the training area to the expanded area. The second floor of expansion will hold police training, patrol and storage space.
McGean explained that the new plan calls for flexibility, meaning that areas will be built with future considerations in mind. For example, the allotted storage space will be built with outlets and the necessary heat and air requirements to allow for easy conversion to offices in the future.
Flexibility will also be implemented in the IT training room of the IT department. The IT room will have the necessary infrastructure for easy conversion to additional office space in the future.
“The IT long-term goal is to create a mobile training lab, so we envision at some point in the future that the need for a fixed training space will go away,” McGean said.
According to McGean, the independent estimate for the expansion is $1.1 million, which includes the $75,000 that is dedicated to re-caulking and re-sealing the existing exterior of the building to repair building leaks.
The funds for the project were included in the recently passed bond reimbursement resolution.
Upon approval, McGean explained to the council he plans to bid the contract out to one general contractor and assess the numbers that come back. McGean explained that if a situation similar to 2005 occurred again with high bids, “then we would go back and look at doing it in house. If we do that, we can bring the cost down, however, it tends to take us longer to do that.”
Councilman Jay Hancock voiced his support for the expansion.
“I think the new design is really going to be much ahead of what the original project was,” he said. “I think the idea of building the flexibility into the spaces to allow what is currently listed as storage to become offices is very foresighted.”
The council agreed and unanimously voted to approve the plans for expansion.