OCEAN CITY — After the lowest bid for the next phase of canal dredging in Ocean City came in considerably lower than what was budgeted, resort officials this week considered expanding the project with potentially more canals added for this year.
During Monday’s regular Mayor and Council meeting, bids for the next phase of Ocean City’s ongoing canal dredging initiative were opened, revealing the lowest bid came in substantially lower than what was included for the project in the fiscal year 2018 budget. For the last several years, Ocean City has been systematically dredging the canals along the bayside of the town based on the permits obtained and the funding available.
The bayside canals often silt in due to a variety of natural and man-made process and often need to be dredged to maintain an acceptable depth for navigation. Each year, the Mayor and Council included funding in the budget for the ongoing canal dredging project and the fiscal year 2018 budget included $450,000 for the initiative.
Three canals are slated for dredging in the coming months including two in the Caine Woods community and a third in the area of Teal Drive. On Monday, three bids were opened for the project with the lowest coming in at around $270,000. Councilman Wayne Hartman suggested because the low bid came in so far under budget, perhaps more canals could be tackled in the next cycle.
“I wonder if this is below what we budgeted is there a possibility of expanding the work if it’s agreeable to all parties,” he said.
Engineering Manager Paul Mauser said it was possible to expand the project for this year with the extra funding available and said he would be willing to work with the staff and the contractor to explore the possibility.
“If the contractor is willing to take on additional work and we have the permits in place, then I’m more than willing to discuss this,” he said. “Right now, we have a number of canals out there with permits. There is plenty of work out there.”
However, Councilman Dennis Dare said it could be premature to arbitrarily expand the project without hearing from the appropriate staff and without some assurances from the contractor the work could be completed.
“I would like to have a report from staff on what we’ve done and what is permitted,” he said. “There are so many constraints with the time of year and I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves.”
Council President Lloyd Martin said he agreed with the idea conceptually, but said it would likely need more staff review before negotiating with the winning bidder to do more canals this year.
“We should have the staff come back to us with a recommendation,” he said. “I think we need to do as much as we can with what was budgeted.”
Hartman essentially agreed the idea probably needed more staff review and recommendations, but reiterated there was an opportunity to do more because of the vast difference between what was budgeted and the low bid.
“There is definitely a need out there,” he said. “I think we need to do as much as we can with what was budgeted. It can improve waterways, improve property values and give people the use of their waterfront that they are paying for.”
The three bids opened on Monday were remanded to staff for further review. The council voted 7-0 to have the staff explore the possibility of expanding the canal dredging project this year utilizing the difference between what was budgeted and the presumed low bid.