OCEAN CITY — After nearly three decades and hundreds of thousands of cart and foot trips, the miles of bridges on Ocean City’s own Eagle’s Landing Golf Course are in “urgent” need of repair, resort officials learned this week.
During Tuesday’s Recreation and Parks Committee meeting, Eagle’s Landing Superintendent Joe Perry said the roughly 2,000 linear feet of bridges over marshland and other water hazards on the popular municipal course were deteriorating to the point of needing significant repairs. Eagle’s Landing was developed in the late 1980s and opened to rave reviews in 1999 for its preservation of sensitive tidal wetlands, marshes and fresh water and brackish ponds.
Preserving the course’s natural beauty required a significant amount of cart path and foot bridges. Perry told the recreation and parks committee on Tuesday the decking for most bridges, which contribute to the allure of the course, have been replaced over the nearly three decades of its existence, but the infrastructure was deteriorating and the bridges now new more than cosmetic repairs.
“In those 30 years, most have been resurfaced, he said. “They are now at the point a higher need of repair is needed. We are going to ask the council in a pretty urgent way to add these bridges to the capital improvement plan.”
Perry said Eagle’s Landing’s 2,000 feet of bridges need significant reconstruction projects beyond superficial repairs.
“It’s not only cosmetics,” he said. “We have 30,000 to 40,000 people on those bridges every year. It’s a safety concern. The would substructures in some cases are deteriorating and rotting.”
Perry said some are in worse condition than others and said his staff has been in the process or prioritizing them.
“We’ve measured each one and prioritized them,” he said. “We have come up with a plan, but its urgent that we address some of these. Why did it get to this point? Eagle’s Landing has largely been a pay-as-you-go enterprise. We haven’t been able to include many major projects. Right now, we don’t have an in-house funding mechanism.”
Perry said some could, and probably should be done sooner rather than later. He said he is working with City Engineer Terry McGean to plan a strategy going forward and to figure out how best to fund the project.
“It looks like $275,000 could do all of them,” he said. “They don’t all have to be done in one year. It looks like about 25 percent of them have been identified as being able to go another two or three years.”
Perry said an in-house option was not likely possible because of manpower and funding constraints.
“The last time, we did a lot of this in-house,” he said. “We don’t have the labor to do this. We used to have nine full-time workers and now we have five. We have even asked [Public Works Director] Hal [Adkins] for assistance but his department is swamped too.”
Committee member and Council President Lloyd Martin recognized the urgency is getting one of Ocean City’s signature amenities the repairs it needs to maintain its high standards.
“It needs to be done and it probably should have been done a long time ago,” he said. “We just have to figure out how we go about paying for it.”
Perry said Eagle’s Landing is largely self-sufficient from the funding standpoint with the number of rounds played and the bottom line stable. However, the course might need some intercession from the town through the capital improvement plan to address the failing bridge issue.
“Even though we’re an enterprise fund, we have needs with infrastructure,” he said. “We need some help from time to time in keeping it up.”
Susan Petito, director the Recreation and Parks Department, which oversees Eagle’s Landing, said she would prepare a presentation for the Mayor and Council.
“It’s a very nice amenity for the town,” she said. “We’re very proud of it.”