OC Comfort Station Project Enters Final Phase; New North OC Fire Station Work Now Underway

OC Comfort Station Project Enters Final Phase; New North OC Fire Station Work Now Underway
OC Comfort

OCEAN CITY – As construction of the Caroline Street Comfort Station nears its end on the Boardwalk, city officials are hoping to have the demolition of a former fire station completed by next week and foundation work on a replacement underway soon after.
The old underground restrooms at Caroline Street and the Boardwalk were demolished last December and the construction of a new, state-of-the-art facility complete with a performing arts stage began shortly thereafter with a projected finish date in May before the arrival of the summer season. However, a wet spring and some poor decisions slowed the construction process, and it became apparent the new facility would not be completed for the start of the summer season.
When poor weather continued through much of June, further slowing the construction of the new facility, the city contracted with a private waste disposal company to provide temporary restrooms for Boardwalk visitors on a site immediately adjacent to the construction site and just behind the Fireman’s Memorial on North Division Street.
At the end of August, the new Caroline Street Performing Arts Stage and Comfort Station was given a month to be completed. At that time the contractor, Black Diamond Builders, had already entered into its penalty phase for missing the deadline.
“They continue to make progress,” McGean said. “They are hoping to have the bathrooms complete and open by the end of next week … they are hoping to have the full building done by the end of the month [October].”
The contractor has been instructed to complete the interior of the bathrooms before concentrating on finishing the stage and the remainder of the exterior of the building.
According to McGean, what’s left to be done regarding the bathrooms is the remainder of the roof and solar towers, as well as counters, sinks and minor plumbing. Next, the stage will have electric work to be completed, siding will go up and the dressing rooms finished.
“It has been a combination of a complicated building, weather and the job probably could have had more men on it especially in the beginning, but they are committed to finishing the building, they have shown that commitment, and the most important thing is it’s done right,” McGean said.
As that project finally nears completion, the city is turning its focus to north Ocean City with this week’s demolition of Fire Station 4 on 130th Street. According to City Engineer Terry McGean, by the end of the week the site will be cleared and work on the foundation of the new facility will begin in the next couple of weeks. The project has 200 calendar days to be completed and is estimated to be finished by the end of April in time for next year’s summer season.
Last December Fire Station 4 came before the Mayor and City Council and plans were approved to move forward with the final design and preparation of construction documents at that time.
Fire Station 4 was included in the 2012 bond issuance when obtaining federal stimulus funds became unsuccessful. The preliminary design and architect selection for the project started back in 2009.
The fire station was selected by the Ocean City Fire Department (OCFD) as a top priority for expansion due to the concentration of high-rise structures and year-round residents in north Ocean City. The idea to renovate versus a rebuild was investigated but the cost for renovation was not effective.
In August, the Mayor and City Council approved the apparent low bidder of Gillis Gilkerson in the amount of $2,692,018 to construct the new fire station. The total building budget is $3.5 million that is funded by the 2012 bond issue. The total building budget is $3.5 million that is funded by the 2012 bond issue.
The council also approved the Recreation and Parks storage unit on the backside of Jamaica Ave. to serve as a temporary facility for Fire Station 4 during construction. The site is just 400 yards from the existing fire station. Staff and equipment are currently all moved in.
The new state-of-the-art facility will be larger with an increase from two engine bays to three, an exercise room, decontamination room and an increase in living space for duty crews as well as an addition of a live-in area on the second floor as a way to encourage volunteers by providing housing.