OCEAN CITY — Resort officials last week advanced the next step in a decade-long plan to improve and upgrade the town’s vast public works campus and transit facilities along the bayside in the midtown area, agreeing to move to the full design and engineering phase of the estimated $25 million project.
The town’s Public Works Department has been working with the Maryland Transit Administration for a decade on a plan to substantially upgrade and expand Ocean City’s public works campus along the bay roughly from 64th Street to 67th Street. The public works complex, which includes administrative offices, bus and transit equipment storage and fueling, solid waste, maintenance and a myriad of other services, was last upgraded over three decades ago in 1983 and the department has outgrown the aging facilities.
“When considering the overall growth of the department and the staffing of the complex as a whole, for the past 33 years since 1983, upgrades to the campus are desperately needed,” Public Works Director Hal Adkins told the Mayor and Council on Tuesday. “I’ve been working on this project for 10 years. In 1983, the complex was created as a capital improvement project including a bus bar to host our 13-15 buses. Today, the site holds a fleet of 70-80 just in the bus division not including everything else we have going on there and we’re just busting at the seams.”
The design work for the public works campus upgrade is about 10 percent complete, but the Mayor and Council voted on Tuesday to advance to the next planning stage, which could be begin in August and be completed by next spring. If all goes according to plan, the project could be bid out by next spring or early summer with construction beginning in September 2017.
The project includes a major reconfiguration of the property, which once held the iconic Playland amusement park and the old Adkins Lumber Company prior to that. It includes a major reconfiguration of the entire public works campus from 64th Street to 67th Street with a new administration building, improved bus storage, fueling and maintenance facilities, expanded parking areas including a parking garage with a designated area on top for a centrally located Med-Evac helicopter pad and other major improvements. Also taken into consideration will be the neighboring uses including the adjacent Public Safety Building, which houses the police department, emergency services and the District Court facilities, along with the new public boat ramp set to break ground as soon as next week.
Although the initial design work is just 10 percent complete, Adkins has been working for 10 years on detailed plans to improve the efficiency of the entire site. The project is expected to cost $25 million, with the expense shared by the state’s MTA because of the transit components and the town of Ocean City. Adkins said he anticipated a funding split of $14 million from the state and $11 million from the town of Ocean City.
While Adkins’ plan is very detailed, some elements of the improvement project remain conceptual and he told the Mayor and Council there would be plenty of opportunity for review and revision going through the planning stage. For example, there was some discussion of moving the current towing impound lot off the public works campus and to another site, or even off the island altogether although no decision has been made and any change will likely come after consulting with the police department.
After reviewing the proposed plan, the Mayor and Council voted unanimously to move the project to the next phase, which should complete the design and engineering work, which will begin later this summer and likely be completed by early next spring.
“I thank you immensely on behalf of all of us who work between 64th and 67th Streets,” said Adkins. “I provide my promise all of your concerns will be addressed through this process.”