Third Beach Toy Structure Eyed For Ocean City

OCEAN CITY – With a playground being proposed for North Division Street on the beach last month, the Recreation and Parks Commission decided this month to move forward with a Request For Proposal for a third and final beach toy to complete the series.

In April of 2013, the Recreation and Parks Commission agreed to not have the wooden playground structures, referred to as beach toys, return to the beach off the Boardwalk that summer once staff brought to the elected officials’ attention how the structures had become safety hazards as well as a nuisance with late-night shenanigans. Since then the commission, through the Recreation and Parks Department, has been exploring alternative avenues in replacing the beach toys.

Being the Public Works Department’s responsibility, for play equipment to be located on the beach it has to be removable during the off-season and in case of severe weather. The equipment also has to be able to endure the atmosphere of the beach as well as be safe and open.

In July 2014, Tow Boat US owner Greg Hall donated $1,000 towards purchasing additional beach play equipment and challenged others to do the same. Councilman Doug Cyemk and former Councilman Brent Ashley followed suit and each donated $500.

Last summer the first beach playground replacement of dinosaur bones was put on the beach at 3rd Street The structure includes three dinosaur climbing sections of a head, ribs, tail and three climbing eggs. The individual structures are made of PolyFiberCrete and weigh from 1,325 to 2,750 pounds. The play structure was available to the town for purchase at half the list price, which was $16,480 with a free delivery.

Last month, Recreation and Parks Director Susan Petito came before the commission with the opportunity to use this year’s Community Parks and Playgrounds Grant funds to purchase a playground to go on the beach at North Division Street.

Usually the town uses the grant to replace playground equipment but Petito recommended using the grant funds to construct a traditional playground structure on the beach with multi-play pieces, such as slides, swings and climbers.

The only location identified to do so is on North Division Street that angles into the beach between the current concrete pad bump out and the wooden walkway.

As proposed, the playground would be a permanent fixture to avoid having to be moved in the time of storms. Therefore, the concrete pad bump out would be extended to affix the playground to the ground. The proper matting would be placed and the facility would be ADA accessible. Since it would be located next to the tram lane, a fence would be installed surrounding the playground.

The grant would cover the project 100 percent except for maintenance costs but the deadline is Aug. 19. With no time to waste, the commission approved the grant application and reported the action item to the full Mayor and Council.

The town will receive a response from the state on the grant in June of next year.

With donations still on the table, including an additional $2,000 from Greg Shockley of Shenanigans Irish Pub & Grille and the Shoreham Hotel, the department is still in search for another beach play structure to be placed at Somerset Street that they feel would complete the series.

“If in fact the playground comes through, we will have a series of play structures on the beach, and we would suggest that would be the limit,” Petito said on Tuesday. “If we move forward, I think we would have satisfied the need of the beach play structures.”

Petito pointed out the play structures at 3rd Street and Somerset Street would be the responsibility of Public Works as would the maintenance of the proposed playground at N. Division Street.

A RFP has been prepared to solicit bids for the subsequent beach play structure. Specifics are unknown at this time.

“Once we have determined what that particular toy will look like, we will go to the community looking for funding,” Petito said.

Commission Chair and Councilman Dennis Dare said securing another free play item for kids to enjoy on the beach would be contingent on the community’s support.

“If you recall, there were half dozen toy structures on the beach before from the Pier to 4th Street, and all along I thought the public would like to go back the series of play structures along that area of the beach,” Dare said. “The business community is still talking about buying another toy other than the playground that is proposed. Somerset Street seems to be a natural location as we try to draw people to that area. If the business community doesn’t want it, or doesn’t contribute to it then we won’t get it.”