Proposed OC Bond Projects Outlined

OCEAN CITY – The discussion surrounding bond projects was presented to the Mayor and Council at Tuesday’s work session, resulting in unanimous approval from the Mayor and Council.

Finance Administrator Martha Bennett, City Engineer Terry McGean and Public Works Director Hal Adkins presented the Mayor and Council with the proposed bond issuance and project list.

Bennett explained to the Mayor and Council that she was presenting them with a partial ordinance that needed the Mayor and Council’s decision on a total for how much could be borrowed to refund the bonds. She also explained that the project list could be added to or reduced, but reminded the Mayor and Council that although less than what’s authorized in the ordinance could be sold, they could not go above the authorized amount.

The items on this year’s project list in regards to the general fund are the Public Safety Building expansion, the Downtown Recreation Complex, the Northside Park restroom and press box, the Sunset Park pier, the support shop facility expansion/generator, St. Louis Ave. reconstruction and street improvements and reconstruction.

The projects related to wastewater on the list are, secondary influent and pumping station, the Jamestown Road pumping station and the aeration basin. Land acquisition for a well site is also on the list.

The Public Safety Building expansion is set for the amount of $1,150,000. McGean informed the Mayor and Council the city plans to begin the project in two to three weeks and are estimating completion by early July.

The Downtown Recreation Complex warranted discussion on whether to proceed with the portion of the project related to the skate park and Philadelphia Ave. enhancements or to proceed with the entire project, which includes the area from St. Louis Avenue to the bay. McGean explained that the first phase was set at $1.8 million, but that the project as a whole was set at $3,275,000.

“We would remind you that this remains contingent on the lease with the county,” McGean said, reminding the Mayor and Council that they had not yet received approval from the county for an extended lease agreement.

Council President Joe Mitrecic said, “This is the biggest thing on the list as far as I’m concerned.”

Mitrecic voiced concern the city may not get the lease that it’s hoping for. McGean advised the council to proceed with the project on the list, explaining the amount could always reduced on second reading

The Northside Park bathroom and press box renovations are set at $580,000. McGean said that the building, originally planned for renovations, would now be rebuilt. The building will be 200,000 square feet, with $460,000 in building cost and $85,000 in kitchen equipment cost.

The Sunset Park pier was the only item to be removed from the project list. McGean explained that the original plan was to have a pier extended off Sunset Park into deep water. He informed the council that the idea had received moderate support at strategic planning.

“At this time, I don’t think it’s a good use of our money,” said Council member Mary Knight.

Mitrecic added, “I was one of the moderate people at strategic planning, I don’t support the Sunset Park pier either.”

The council voted unanimously, with Councilwoman Margaret Pillas absent, to remove the project from the list.

Adkins addressed the St. Louis Ave. reconstruction and design, noting that the roadway needs serious work.

“If you’ve been down St. Louis Ave., you know it’s in bad shape,” McGean said in agreement.

The amount is set at $500,000, which refers to the design effort. Adkins explained that it would set them up to get a grasp of what a project like that would entail.

In regards to the Jamestown Pumping station, Adkins told the council that he hopes to go to bidding within the next 30 days.

The projects that did not make the list were the convention center, proposed parking garage and some other areas of land acquisition, which Adkins explained did not have a firm price yet.

The council unanimously approved, with Pillas absent, the project list, the refinancing of the recognized bonds, and the total amount of $22.5 million. The ordinance will be brought to Monday nights Mayor and Council meeting.