Boardwalk Security Design Study Funding Approved

Boardwalk Security Design Study Funding Approved
File photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY — With an eye on tightening security and limiting entry points on the Boardwalk, the Ocean City Mayor and Council approved funding for the preliminary design work on a vehicle access control project for the famed promenade.

After a handful of events in the U.S. and around the world when terrorists killed and injured dozens of victims by driving trucks and other large vehicles into large public areas, Ocean City officials late last year began exploring ways to ramp up security in the form of vehicle access controls on the Boardwalk.

Resort officials last year began exploring a series of permanent and semi-permanent barrier systems, from gated access points that would allow police, fire, emergency vehicles and the beach patrol, for example, to access the Boardwalk. In other areas, heavy planters or bollards could be used to prevent unauthorized vehicles from reaching Boardwalk crowds.

In November, the council approved an $80,000 expenditure for preliminary design work and staff sent out a Request For Proposal (RFP) seeking potential vendors to design the Boardwalk access security system. On Tuesday, City Engineer Terry McGean told the council the town had received four bids for the preliminary design, the most qualified of which came with a price tag of around $155,000. McGean said one bid came in right around the budgeted amount, but the company did not have the experience in the type of project Ocean City was looking for on the Boardwalk.

“This is a little bit of a unique circumstance,” he said. “My sort of back of the napkin estimate for the design work was $80,000. The one vendor that came close to that was a cyber security company with no experience in physical security projects. While cyber security is wonderful, that’s not what we really need for the Boardwalk.”

McGean said the recommended bid came from a company called JMT at around $155,000, which is roughly $75,000 over the budgeted amount, but McGean said he was confident JMT was the best firm for the job at hand based on its qualifications.

“The most qualified contractor based on my evaluation was JMT,” he said. “They are currently doing a very similar project at the Inner Harbor, so we feel very confident in their qualifications. It’s always my feeling you spend the money on design and it saves you money on construction if you have a good consultant.”

McGean explained the $80,000 already approved and budgeted for the design work will jump start the project and put the town on track to have some security measures in place for the 2018 season. The roughly $75,000 difference could be allocated in the fiscal year 2019 budget when the firm final construction costs are determined.

“At this point, the $80,000 you’ve already approved we believe will take us through this fiscal year,” he said. “Once we have a firm estimate on construction costs, my recommendation would be to roll the remaining design fees into the construction costs.”

Council Secretary Mary Knight questioned if there would be security measures in place for the upcoming season.

“As I understand it, once we do this we’re going to have some security in place this season?” she said.

McGean said there would be some measures in place in 2018 while the final design will be completed and the permanent project will be in place in 2019.

“It’s actually a two-phase project,” he said. “The first phase is to have full access controls with a combination of temporary and permanent measures this season with full permanent measures in place next season. This season, you might see some things that aren’t the most visually attractive, but are getting the job done until we get the full project in place for 2019.”

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.