Ocean City Bulkhead Repair Plan Pitched

CITY – The Mayor and
Council will hold a public hearing in the near future in an effort to resolve
issues surrounding the on-going efforts to repair the bulkhead along South Ocean Drive.

City Engineer Terry McGean presented the proposal for a
public hearing at a work session of the Mayor and City Council this week in an
effort to move forward with the bulkhead permit process that has reached a
stalemate in past months.

The South Ocean Drive bulkhead, which runs about 1,000
feet in length and is failing structurally, was first brought to light a couple
years ago when McGean addressed the fledgling bulkhead. McGean applied, with
the approval of the Mayor and Council, for a no-interest loan from the Maryland
Department of Natural Resources Shore Erosion Program. The loan would be used
to install a stone revetment along the entire length of the bulkhead.

McGean explained that during several trips to the
bulkhead, he noticed a variety of individuals crabbing and fishing along the
bulkhead, an activity that would not be possible after the installation of the

In an effort to preserve the area as a crabbing and
fishing location, McGean approached the Montego Bay Civic Association. In October
2006, McGean met with the association’s Board of Directors and presented two
options; the installation of a timber walkway and/or a pier, similar to the one
located behind the Convention Center.

“At that meeting, I presented the revetment concept drawings
and also the idea of constructing a pier and/or walkway. I also explained that
the funding for the walkway and pier could not be part of the DNR loan and that
the ultimate decision to construct either of these items would rest with the
Mayor and City Council. After considerable discussions, the board voted to ask
me to include the pier and walkway in the design and permit documents and I
did,” McGean said.

According to McGean, the permit process has been on going
since that time.

“The walkway and the pier are now holding up the permit to
do the construction itself,” McGean said.

McGean noted the numerous calls of both opposition and
support that he has received in regard to the pier and walkway addition.
Opponents claim that not enough notice was given prior to the board meeting.

“After numerous conversations with the permitting
agencies, it appears they would prefer to have the walkway/pier issue resolved
prior to issuing the permit,” said McGean. “Really, right now it’s holding up

McGean suggested that a public hearing be held in an
effort to garner all thoughts in opinions on the issue before moving forward
with the permit process.

“I think you’ll come up with the perfect solution. I think
it’s the right thing to do,” said Councilwoman Nancy Howard.

Residents within 500 feet of the project will be notified
30 days prior to the public hearing.

Jim Walker, president of the Montego Bay Civic
Association, suggested that the public hearing be held at Northside Park, a
location that would be more convenient for Montego Bay residents.

Both McGean and the Mayor and Council agreed that the
public hearing should be held at City Hall, where the hearing could be tape
recorded and televised.

The City Council voted unanimously, with Councilman Jim Hall
absent, to approve the request for a public hearing.