Beach Playground Bids Will Be Sought

OCEAN CITY — Ocean City Recreation and Parks officials this week moved forward with a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the latest beach playground equipment at North Division Street after a considerable debate about the financial parameters for the new amenity.

On Tuesday, the Recreation and Parks Committee discussed the timetable for sending out the RFP for the latest addition to the beach playground equipment in the south end of the resort. In 2013, the town removed the long-standing wooden playground structures, or “beach toys,” for a variety of reasons, including potential safety hazards and some of the late night activities by some for whom the toys were not intended.

In the many months since, the town has wrestled with replacing the beach toys, from a financial and practical standpoint. While all agree the beach toys offer a nice alternative free amenity for families on the beach and Boardwalk, replacing the decades-old equipment has been challenging. Last summer, the newest addition was the dinosaur bones structure at 3rd Street. That has appeared to achieve the desired goals for the younger kids, but town officials are now wrestling with adding more playground equipment in the downtown area.

On Tuesday, Recreation and Parks Committee members wrestled with what cost parameters to set on the RFP for the new playground equipment. There is some grant funding available and the business community has stepped up to some degree with private donations, but the committee wrestled with setting the RFP high enough to get realistic, serious bids, but low enough to match the funding available.

Recreation and Parks Director Susan Petito said the town got lucky somewhat with the dinosaur playground equipment because it was valued at around $32,000 but was able to acquire it at around cost, or about $16,000. She said the town might not get so lucky this time.

“It would be nice to get something in the $20,000 to $25,000 range,” said Councilman Dennis Dare. “My feeling is it’s going to be more than that this time.”

After considerable debate, it was decided to keep the bid price in the RFP at around $26,000 as originally proposed.

“Once we get something, we can go to the business community for more support,” said Petito. “We want to know what we’re selling. I think we stick with the $26,000 and see what comes back. If we don’t like it, we can put it back out to bid. My impression was we wanted something out there for next summer. If we don’t have that deadline, we can do all sorts of creative things.”