OCEAN CITY – To light or not to light was the question during budget discussions this week regarding the reconstruction and improvement of St. Louis Avenue.
In February, the Mayor and City Council was presented a list of capital improvement projects to be included in an ordinance for a bond sale. At that time, city staff presented the full reconstruction of St. Louis Ave., including storm drains, new street scape with wider sidewalks and new pavement, at a cost $9 million. The cost for paving, sidewalk repair and storm drains was $4.5 million.
In March, the council decided to include St. Louis Ave. sewer main work for $442,000 and the $4.5 million improvements in the bond sale.
On Monday, City Engineer Terry McGean followed up on a request made by the council and presented the option to include decorative lighting. The proposed design will cost about $550,000, made in annual payments of $27,000 over 20 years.
The design would replace 31 overhead cobra lights with 70 ornamental lights on the street.
The council decided to table the discussion to be furthered during a budget meeting, which was held on Wednesday since the bill of sale for the bond issuance was due that morning.
Councilman Brent Ashley came forward making a motion to nix the project all together and was seconded by Councilman Joe Hall, but that died in a 3-4 vote.
“I support the project 100 percent,” Joe Hall said on Thursday. “The motion was to scrap it for this year and delay it so it could be done correctly at a later date instead of doing it half way and incomplete.”
Councilwoman Mary Knight later set a motion to move forward with the project as planned but to table the street’s lighting for a future date. That passed in a 4-3 vote.
Public Works Director Hal Adkins approached the Mayor and City Council to offer a compromise. Adkins explained that in 1989 Baltimore Ave., from North Division to 9th streets, was reconstructed with a box of conduits placed in the ground and were ran to where the future light pole locations would be. The conduits were put just below the surface of where the light post was going to be, with a plastic cap on top, and concrete was poured for the sidewalks, so the average person would never know a conduit was there.
The council voted 7-0 to move forward with installing an empty conduit system for future installation of the lights at a later date.
The project will be conducted in three phases — in the fall, 17th to 10th streets will be competed; the following year 10th to 4th streets; and the third year 4th Street to the Route 50 Bridge.