Resort Okay With Spending $1M On Restrooms

OCEAN CITY – Despite its $1 million price tag, town officials
this week approved final design plans for the new comfort station and
performing arts stage at Caroline
Street and the Boardwalk.

The new facility will
replace the existing restrooms just north of Caroline Street. The old bunker-style
restrooms will be replaced with a new comfort station with restroom facilities
and a performing arts stage just to the south of the existing facility at the
head of Caroline Street
and the Boardwalk.

The new facility will
feature state-of-the-art “green” building designs including a roof vegetated
with native plants, solar chimneys for ventilation, high efficiency LED light
fixtures and water-conserving plumbing fixtures. Perhaps more importantly, the
new facility will feature a performance stage for concerts in the area during
the summer season and at other times of the year.

City Engineer Terry
McGean and project designer David Quillen presented the final design plans to
the Mayor and Council on Tuesday. McGean explained much of the estimated $1
million price tag was related to relocating the new facility to the south of
the existing comfort station.

“I realize the $1
million price tag might represent a little sticker shock for you all,” he said.
“A lot of the cost has to do with the amount of work we’ll have to do on the
Boardwalk. We’re going to have to relocate train routes and make other
improvements up there.”

About $75,000 of the
cost will go directly to the “green” aspects of the new facility, although it
could have been higher if the town elected to go for Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design (LEED) certification for the project.

“Getting the LEED
certification would be a nice feather in the cap for the town, but the only
real benefit is for the publicity,” McGean said.

After reviewing the
plans, the council voted unanimously to approve the final design, which will
move the project into the bid phase. Councilwoman Nancy Howard made the motion
to approve the design, saying it was probably not necessary to get the LEED

“We have worked hard to
make the Boardwalk the terrific place it is and I think this will be a
wonderful addition,” she said. “I’d just as soon throw out the $40,000 feather
in our cap though.”

When questioned why the
new facility was being moved to the south at the head of Caroline Street, McGean explained it made
sense for a variety of reasons.

“It is being moved so it
won’t be blocking any of the properties on either side,” he said. “If we don’t
do it at the street end, we could be blocking the views of neighboring
properties. Also, this will allow us to keep the existing facility open while
we work on the new one.”

The performing arts
stage will be complete with a tall, decorative sail, which could become an
iconic symbol in the downtown area.

Councilman Jim Hall was
among those who approved the $1 million project, but reminded his colleagues
the town has several high dollar capital projects on the books for the next few

“I think we need to go
through all of our capital projects and see which ones we are going to do in
what order before we bite off more than we can chew in this economy,” he said
“We have this comfort station, the 3rd Street Park and the
improvements to Fire Station 3, all of which will have to be bonded, not to
mention the phases of the St. Louis Avenue redesign.”

Nonetheless, Hall
praised the comfort station design and voted to move forward with the project.
“It’s going to be a beautiful building and a great addition to the Boardwalk
and the downtown area,” he said.