Ocean City Resurrects Downtown Park Hopes

OCEAN CITY – In an effort to continue with the Downtown Recreation Complex, the Mayor and Council will be sending another letter to the County Commissioners hoping to find a common ground.

Mayor Rick Meehan addressed the issue this week at a regular session of the Mayor and Council, announcing the city is willing to send another letter to the commissioners hoping to garner the land for the new downtown park.

The Downtown Recreation Complex, to be located between 3rd and 4th streets from Philadelphia Ave. to the bay, hit a roadblock last year when the city and county failed to come to an understanding over the land.

The city has remained reluctant to continue with the project until a lease for the county-owned land could be negotiated. Last year the Mayor and Council requested a long-term lease of the land of at least 20 years, but was rebuffed when the county offered up a 15-year lease. As a result, the project was pulled from the recent bond issuance, placing the project on hold indefinitely.

The project contains two parts, the skate park renovations and the construction of a new park area. The park promises to increase the aesthetic appeal of the area, slow traffic along St. Louis Ave., connect the essentially separate sections of the current park, and revamp the downtrodden fields and area. Overall, the project is estimated to cost the town $3.75 million.

Meehan brought a new issue to light this week, pointing out instances where city-owned land had been deeded to the county with no incidence. He said both the 14th Street and 100th Street properties, where the current and future libraries stand, were deeded to the county by the city under the condition the land be used for the sole purpose of the library. In the instance that the library is no longer the focus of the property, the land is to revert back to the city. This will occur in just a few weeks when the 14th Street library becomes vacated and the property returns to city hands.

Meehan pointed out that a similar deal could be, and should be, negotiated for the 3rd Street property, suggesting that the county give the same courtesy and deed the property to the town, under the condition that the land remain deeded to the town as long as it remains a park.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Councilman Lloyd Martin, noting that the downtown park would be a benefit to the town and county.

The council voted unanimously, with Councilman Jay Hancock absent, to approve the mayor’s proposal and to send another letter to the county.