Ocean City News In Brief

OCEAN CITY – In the brief this week, the downtown water tower is about to get a much needed makeover, albeit a pricey one, and the topic of raising the inlet parking lot’s rates has come up once again.

Hefty Price For Water Tower Bids

Public Works Director Hal Adkins rarely looks surprised or taken aback when he’s in front of the Mayor and City Council, but as the Requests For Proposal (RFP) were opened on Tuesday and the total price quotes for the job to essentially overhaul and repaint the Worcester Street water tower, the big numbers were making him noticeably uncomfortable.

“I was a bit surprised because we just did another tower a few months ago of a similar nature and it came in at a base bid of $487,000, but came in at about $537,000 when all was said and done, and I think the lowest one that we got on Tuesday was a little over $594,000,” he said, “but, before we award the bid, I’m going to find out exactly why the number went higher than we expected.”

A few of the bids skyrocketed into the $700,000 to $800,000 mark, and Adkins was admittedly relieved to see that a bid came close to meeting the $550,000 allocation that was in the town’s budget for the job.

“My guess is that the cost went up because there is an extensive amount of metal work that needs to be done on the tower, in addition to the hydro-mixer that will be installed, and the interior and exterior blasting and recoating of paint,” said Adkins. “In addition, there’s a lot of structures (reportedly mobile phone stations) around the tower that need to be removed or contained while the job is being done, and that could also drive up the price.”

The tower was built in 1955 and last painted/repaired in 1999. Adkins said the tower is in disrepair and it’s a much more extensive job than just repainting the structure. In comparison, when the job was done in 1999, it cost the town $120,000.

“I envision this job starting in mid to late October and they will probably get a good bit done, and then run into some bad winter weather, and have to return to finish the job in the spring,” said Adkins.

With that said, expect the water tower to be stripped of it’s vintage Ocean City logo, and it’s blue hue this winter, and as Adkins says, don’t expect the logo to come back when the job is done either.

“A previous council decided to leave the water towers bare and free of any logo or town markings, and I’m pretty sure that the Worcester Street tower is the sole survivor and last of its kind in Ocean City, cause I think they’ve had me blast off all the other ones over the years,” Adkins said.

Adkins expects to make a presentation with his recommendation on the bid award on Aug. 17 after his office evaluates the price and deems it to be the best one.

Inlet Lot Prices To Go Up, Again?

Last fall, when the idea came up to increase revenue for the town of Ocean City by raising the fees for parking at the Inlet lot, Councilman Jim Hall was adamant in his opposition.

“People are hurting out there, and I don’t think that we can continue to put more cost to the people who are coming here,” said Hall in October.

However, Hall seems to have had a change of heart concerning rates at the Inlet lot as he proposed looking into a potential raise of the inlet lot parking fees to the Recreation and Parks Committee on Tuesday.

“They are closing that lot at like 8:30 in the morning on the weekends, and the fact that people are staying there all day long in those spots at $2 an hour, tells me that [the inlet lot] is the deal in town,” said Hall. “So maybe we should consider raising the rates a bit to keep some of those spaces open and make those prime time parking spots a bit more valuable to the town.”

Hall said he changed his stance on the issue because in October he didn’t think that parking lot would fill to capacity with the incremental price hike.

“Apparently, I was wrong because it’s full by mid-morning,” said Hall. “I’m simply saying that it’s an option and maybe we should talk about it and see what kind of support it would get at the council level since we are looking at getting money from everywhere we can right now.”