Big Picture Approach Helps With Comfort Station

City Engineer Terry McGean must be tired of talking about the new Caroline Street Comfort Station project and saying the same thing over and over again.
The project has been a black eye for the town. There is no question about that. Because the project got off to a rough start and was never able to catch up to the agreed upon schedule, the city had no other choice but to bring in portable restrooms this summer. At one point, during the summer, Boardwalk merchants as well as pedestrians had to deal with a tremendous stench because the usage simply overwhelmed the portables. It was a debacle.
Some changes in mid-summer were made that resulted in the situation becoming acceptable for the rest of the peak season, but the fact remains a resort like Ocean City should never have to utilize port-o-potties of any kind on the Boardwalk. That was embarrassing to see within steps of the beach.
The problem is the construction project quickly morphed into a no-win situation for all parties involved. The city looked incompetent and unable to enhance its infrastructure within a suitable time frame. The contractor also has been shamed by this job and failure to meet a deadline, but the city is the one ultimately held responsible.
Visitors surely have the right to expect no major inconveniences in the summer, and businesses paying top dollar rents should also not have to deal with constant construction in the peak season as well as the negatives associated with the temporary restroom facilities.
While the sting of this embarrassment is still fresh, McGean is right when he maintains the project has been difficult but quality cannot be sacrificed in the face of what everyone wants — the project to be completed in a timely fashion and for the infrastructure to be enhanced.
“They [contractor] are working as fast as they can,” McGean said in August. “I don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the building to rush it. The famous philosophy is everyone may be upset right now with it opening late but three years from now nobody will remember it opened late but if the quality is bad that will still show. We want to make sure it is done as quickly as possible but we also want to make sure it is done right.”
Unquestionably, this project will result in an improvement on the Caroline Street site. The old, sunken restrooms had to go and the new mixed-use capability of its replacement will be a nice addition to the Boardwalk.
Come next summer, when the new building is erected and residents and visitors get to see the tremendous enhancement, the project delays and headaches will be forgotten. It’s just a shame it took so long and was a nightmare project that influenced business and visitor experiences this summer.