OCEAN CITY – Last Tuesday the Mayor and City Council rejected two bid items — the ice cream truck and a series of beach stand location — after the responses did not meet expectations.
A few weeks ago, the Mayor and City Council approved the bid process for a new four-year Vehicle Vending Franchise in town after Ron Bright of Popsy Pop, Inc. advised that he would not fulfill the remainder of his agreement for the ice cream concession franchise, which was not due to expire until December 2016.
All bids were due by Feb. 9 and the only bid received was Georgeo’s Water Ice, Inc. of Selbyville, Del. The bid amount was not announced. However, Bright paid $71,200 annually in the previous contract.
City Manager David Recor suggested the town’s definition of the franchise, or lack thereof, be addressed.
“Traditionally, the vehicle franchise in Ocean City has been an ice cream truck, and there has been a conscious effort of the Mayor and City Council to not allow franchise agreements that will compete with Boardwalk business owners,” Recor said. “If you do research on the Internet regarding prepared foods, food trucks are included in the definition, and we want to have the discussion today whether or not you believe one response is a responsive bid to the solicitation, and clarify what exactly the Mayor and City Council’s expectations are in regard to prepared foods. We believe that may be part of the reason why we are not getting a response to this solicitation.”
The town Code defined the franchise as “the exclusive and sole right to operate a motor vehicle type prepared-food vending business on and from public streets.”
The Code furthers, “there is only one Vehicle Vending Franchise to operate in Ocean City by one operator. Such Franchise is limited to six vehicles. The franchise operator is permitted to vend prepared food items at all times from all public ways from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., but cannot vend from Coastal Hwy., Baltimore Ave., Philadelphia Ave., Atlantic Ave., which is the beach and boardwalk, or east of Baltimore Ave. from 27th St. south to the Inlet, at the convention center and Northside Park.”
As well as, “the operator shall be permitted to vend, at retail, prepared food and beverage items, excluding alcoholic beverages. He shall not be permitted to vend non-food items.”
“The Code could lead one to believe we allow food trucks in Ocean City. I don’t think that is what the Mayor and City Council’s desire based on previous discussions, and if that’s the case perhaps we should clarify that,” Recor said. “We have one response, and this is potentially a significant source of revenue.”
Mayor Rick Meehan asserted the town’s expectation is packaged ice cream, not a food truck.
“Most of the places these trucks go are residential neighborhoods, not in business districts where you see food trucks in other cities,” the mayor said. “It is also a competition factor with those who have invested in their restaurants to serve food and meet the needs of our residents and visitors. I always thought it [franchise] was to supplement that [restaurants] and provide an extra amenity, but not a food service.”
Councilman Doug Cymek agreed the language needed to be clarified, as well as the advertisement of the bid needs to be broadened. He made the motion to reject the one bid, and the council voted 5-0 to approve with Council President Lloyd Martin and Councilman Tony DeLuca absent.
Councilman Wayne Hartman made a motion to rebid the a vehicle vending franchise changing the verbiage from “prepared food” to “pre-packaged food” including an outline of pre-packaged items the Town will allow.
“I am concerned over the use of the word ‘pre-packaged’ because someone can go into a health department approved kitchen and prepare and pre-package a sub but I know it is not your intent to allow them to sell them on the truck,” Cymek said.
Meehan reiterated the franchise is referred to as an “ice cream truck” for a reason.
“If we can expand our reach and provide the service that always has been anticipated and expected to get more responses to the RFP [Request For Proposal] then that will be good. It is what we really want to have out there not just about the revenue we bring in. Certainly we want the highest return possible but the highest return on the products that we deem to be sold to compliment the other businesses in down, not to compete,” he said.
Hartman’s amended his motion to have staff clearly define the franchise to be ice cream truck of sorts and rebid for the Vehicle Vending franchise. The council voted 5-0 to approve.
Little Interest In Some Mid-OC Beach Stands
The responses to the 2015 Beach Equipment Auction for Mid Beach and defaulted parcels were also not up to par.
The town splits its Beach Equipment Franchise, which is the rental of umbrellas and chairs on the beach, into three sections — south end, mid beach and north end. Each year one of the sections is auctioned off.
On Dec. 3 the mid beach parcels, along with several defaulted parcels, were auctioned off. The decrease in several responses comes to an overall $57,070 reduction in revenue.
City Clerk Kelly Allmond recommended the Mayor and City Council accept the mid parcel bids except for reject the following — 51st, 52nd and 53rd streets that have a nine-year average of $923 but the 2015 bid was $25; 63rd, 64th and 65th streets that have a nine-year average of $600 but the 2015 bid was $50; 69th, 70th and 71st streets that have a nine-year average of $765 but the 2015 bid was $50; 79th, 80th and 81st streets that have a nine-year average of $997 but the 2015 bid was $100; and 82nd, 83rd and 84th streets that have a nine-year average of $4,210 but the 2015 bid was $300.
The remainders of the bids on mid-beach parcels were in line or exceeded the nine-year average. The parcels listed to reject are between 60 and 90 percent below the average nine-year historical value.
Allmond also recommended accepting the defaulted parcel bids except the Caroline Street that has a nine-year average of $1,108 but the 2015 bid was $100; 6th Street that has a nine-year average of $4,060 but the 2015 bid was $1,500; 11th Street, $1,647 but the 2015 bid was $100; and 20th Street that has a nine-year average of $2,895 but the 2015 bid was $150.
“The 2014 bids were up 23 percent which indicates the market is strong, so it is rather surprising to see a number of parcels down so much this year. I can’t explain it. I don’t think minimum wage went up that much,” Councilman Dennis Dare said.
Dare made a motion to approve Allmond’s recommendation to reject the aforementioned bids, establish a minimum bid of $500, and to rebid through a sealed bid process versus auction. The council voted 5-0 to approve.
In other news, the Mayor and City Council also approved two new bid processes for the foodservice at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center and Phase I demolition of the “Model Block.”
According to Ocean City Procurement Manager Catrice Parsons, the current foodservice contract with Center Plate at the convention center contract expires June of 2015. Center Plate has been providing foodservices since 1997, with contract extensions and renegotiation of terms and services.
“We are very happy with Center Plate. However, we would like to see what else is out there,” Convention Center Director Larry Noccolino said.
The council voted 5-0 to approve the RFP.
Next, City Engineer Terry McGean explained the town will be demolishing the proposed “Model Block,” which falls between Somerset and Dorchester streets downtown. The block currently holds nine buildings that have been acquired through the partnership between the Town of Ocean City and the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC.)
The first phase of demolition will remove four buildings along Somerset Street, which is the former Pioneer Hotel and three buildings to the west, which will take place prior to summer. Once the buildings are removed the land will be converted into a combination of private and public parking.
The second phase will take place in September and will remove five buildings on the Dorchester Street side that currently house the beach patrol and employee housing. By that time the beach patrol will have moved into their new headquarters across the street.
Once all is said and done, the “Model Block” will be available for redevelopment. Two private buildings will remain — the Sorianos building and the laundry mat.
Demolition costs will be covered through a $200,000 State of Maryland’s Strategic Demolition Program received by OCDC and the remainder will be funded through OCDC parking revenue.
Hartman made a motion to approve asking the demolition be coordinated with the two private buildings. The council voted 5-0 to approve.