OC Boardwalk Re-Decking Okayed After Survey Finds Many New Boards Needed

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OCEAN CITY — Ocean City’s Boardwalk will be getting a re-decking this winter and spring after resort officials approved a low bid for the replacement of many worn and potentially dangerous boards.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Public Works Director Hal Adkins presented a proposal to replace hundreds of boards along the entire length of the Boardwalk that have begun to show their age since the last major re-decking project was completed in 2011. After a foot-survey of the entire Boardwalk during the month of November, Public Works staff identified a potential liability issue with splintering and cracking on specific boards that needed to be replaced before the 2017 summer season.

Replacing damaged boards was anticipated and $10,000 was set aside in the fiscal year 2017 budget for the replacement materials. However, after the foot survey in November, Adkins and his staff determined the scope of the project was beyond the resources available to do the project in-house and an outside contractor would need to be hired to complete the work.

“The bottom line is, we anticipated in the fiscal year 2017 budget that $10,000 would be needed for new materials,” he said. “After a foot-by-foot review of the Boardwalk from the Inlet to 27th Street, it was rather eye-opening. We realized the only way to do it was to outsource it.”

In addition to exceeding the manpower available, the Boardwalk re-decking also went above and beyond the funding available in the current budget. Adkins told the Mayor and Council he solicited bids for the project from private contractors and saw a huge range of bids submitted. Of the eight bids submitted, the highest was over $400,000 with most under $100,000. The lowest came from Kade Construction in Berlin at $38,104, a bid which Adkins urged the Mayor and Council to accept on Tuesday.

“I have a comfort level with Kade Construction because we’ve worked with them before,” he said. “Some of the numbers on the bids were way out there. I’d like the council’s permission to get going with this. It’s something that we need to do.”

With $10,000 budgeted, Adkins projected a shortfall of a little over $28,000 to complete the project. He told the council he had conferred with Budget Director Jennie Knapp, who had found a creative way to finance the difference.

“The income tax revenue was audited and we have more income tax coming to us than we anticipated,” she said. “That’s where I envision the funding coming from for this.”

With a range of bids as high as $400,000 and as low as $38,000, Councilmember Mary Knight questioned how Kade Construction would be able to complete the project at such a low cost.

“I’m a little confused,” she said. “When you look at the material cost, the cost of nails and the labor costs, I don’t know how they can do it at this price.”

Adkins explained there was likely a variety of reasons why the Kade Construction bid was so much lower than the competitors.

“I have seen contractors just trying to hold on in the winter months and keep people working and that might be the case here,” he said. “He might just be doing it at cost. Then again, he has broken it down with unit prices. It’s a legitimate bid and not just a lump sum.”

The Council ultimately approved Kade Construction’s low bid and promised to revisit the line item for Boardwalk deck replacement in the coming budget sessions.

“It is low, but it looks like something that will be perpetual, especially with the boards hitting their life expectancy,” said Councilman John Gehrig. “It’s like a Boardwalk replenishment project.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.