OCEAN CITY – City officials gathered this morning with city staff and members of the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) to break ground to begin construction for the new Ocean City Beach Patrol (OCBP) headquarters.
The new three-story building will be located at the corner of Talbot St. and South Philadelphia Ave., which is directly across the street from its existing location. OCBP HQ will represent a traditional Ocean City aesthetic as laid out by the OCDC’s design standards. The new building boasts 10,000 square feet of space and provides facilities for beach patrol vehicle and equipment storage, training, roll call and administrative areas. In addition, the $2 million project holds a multi-purpose training room and an area for the Ocean City Police Department’s (OCPD) Bicycle Unit.
“This building is long overdue,” Director of Emergency Services Joe Theobald said this morning.
The OCBP currently occupies three buildings on Dorchester Street that used to serve as the old home to the OCPD and District Court facilities. In 1993, the buildings were deemed unsuitable for usage, but they continued to be utilized by the seasonal OCBP.
OCBP Captain Butch Arbin came before the crowd announcing a new chapter in OCBP’s 80-year history.
“There have been a lot of ground breakings but this is the first time the OCBP has been involved because in 80 years this is the first time we have ever had anything built for us … so this is great,” Arbin said. “The beach patrol is very significant to the Town of Ocean City and the visitors that come here … and how appropriate is it when people come into downtown they are going to see this really wonderful looking building that is an attribute to the town and the people of Ocean City.”
Arbin thanked the Mayor and City Council for approving the project as well as former Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster for supporting a new headquarters for so long. He also gave credit to the OCDC.0
“If it wasn’t for OCDC and the partnership that they have because not only did they give their words of support of having it here in the downtown but they gave their financial support. They worked very closely with the Town of Ocean City, and because of that this was able to happen,” he said.
OCDC President Bob Givarz explained the corporation is devoted to downtown revitalization.
“The beach patrol is certainly an important part of Ocean City and the downtown area. Between our group and the City, the Mayor and City Council, we were able to form a public-private partnership to get this opportunity done,” Givarz said.
In time good things will come stated Mayor Rick Meehan, who personally thanked former city manager and Councilman Dennis Dare for his ongoing drive to create a new home for the OCBP as well as the public-private partnership between the Town of Ocean City and OCDC to make the project happen, and City Engineer Terry McGean for all of his hard work.
“We are having the ground breaking today but this is when all the tough work begins to take place and it is Terry [McGean] who is going to follow it all the way through,” the mayor said. “He has given me a completion date but I am not going to announce it because as Terry [McGean] knows that is exactly the date everyone is going to hold him too. Hopefully, we will have a better winter than last year and we will be able to move this along.”
In the end, Meehan thanked the men and woman of the OCBP.
“The job that you do and continue to do in Ocean City is just unbelievable … and you have been able to do it in those lavish headquarters that we put you in over there that use to house the prisoners that were arrested here in Ocean City,” the mayor joked. “Good things take time and a new 10,000-square-foot building that is going to house our beach patrol and its operations, as well as our police officers and their needs in downtown Ocean City … this is exactly what we need to do to move forward. This is a big day in Ocean City.”
In April 2013, City Engineer Terry McGean presented the Mayor and City Council with a report on the current headquarters that revealed significant issues, such as numerous ADA violations, nonfunctioning sprinkler systems, asbestos siding, cracks in exterior masonry walls and all buildings’ first floors are below base flood elevation.
At that time, the council approved $165,000 to go toward a design of a new facility to be reimbursed in a future bond issue and authorize the staff to begin the Request for Proposal (RFP) process to hire a design firm.
In August 2013, OCDC came before the Mayor and City Council and proposed a land swamp of OCDC parking lots in the Dorchester/Talbot streets block for the city-owned lots where the existing headquarters stands in the Dorchester/Somerset streets block. Once the existing facility is demolished, those lots will then become temporary parking lots instead.
The OCDC will pay 35 percent of the cost of the new OCBP building and site improvements over the 20-year bond life, not to exceed $2 million. These assisted funds would come from the Inlet Parking Lot fund, which is the dedicated funding source, established a decade ago to fund downtown revitalization projects by OCDC.
The OCDC will manage the temporary parking lot on the Dorchester/Somerset streets block to provide additional public parking until a redevelopment project is underway. Revenue from this parking would be applied toward paying the transferred note on the properties.
The Mayor and City Council accepted OCDC’s offer.
In April, the Mayor and City Council granted approval of OCBP HQ’s design after it was sent back to the drawing board a couple times to get it just right. The council also approved the hiring of a construction manager for the project.
Just last week McGean presented to the Mayor and City Council a total project budget of $2.2 million that includes design and preconstruction costs of $157,500, construction costs of $1,964,458, and furnishings and equipment costs of $78,000.
McGean requested the council approve the At-Risk Construction Management Contract with Gillis Gilkerson in the amount of $1,964,458.00 and to appropriate an additional $50,000 for additional IT equipment and owner contingency from fund balance. The council voted unanimously to approve.
Now that ground has officially been broken, construction will start this week, and the project is estimated to be complete by the next summer season.