City Approves $1.2M Land Buy Offer For Water Plant Expansion

OCEAN CITY — Ocean City officials voted in closed session to allocate over $1.2 million for the purchase of the World Gym property on 67th Street for the future purpose of expanding the town’s water plant.

Following a closed session on Tuesday, Council President Lloyd Martin announced the council had approved the $1.2 million allocation to purchase the roughly 18,000-square-foot parcel at 67th Street. In September, the Mayor and Council voted in closed session to begin the condemnation process for the property, which had been in foreclosure.

Later in September, Wells Fargo purchased the property for $1.13 million at a public auction on the site. Because the town of Ocean City as a municipality is not allowed to participate in a public auction during a trustee sale, the Mayor and Council took the pre-emptive step to begin the condemnation process for the property.

Once Wells Fargo purchased the property at auction, the town was free to negotiate a fair market price for it, which is why the council on Tuesday approved the $1.2 million allocation. Following Tuesday’s meeting, City Manager Doug Miller said an ordinance authorizing the purchase and the corresponding expenditure of funding would likely be introduced at first reading on Monday.

The town’s planned acquisition of the gym property is part of a larger plan to piece together parcels in the same general area for a future expanded water treatment facility. Last year, the town acquired and ultimately demolished the old VFW facility for the same purpose.

The World Gym property is just the latest link in the chain of parcels needed for the new water treatment plant and more property acquisitions could be pending. The discussion of consolidating and assembling parcels in the area of 67th Street began back in 2011.

The site will ultimately be home to a new water treatment plant for the town. It will replace a plant at 44th Street built in 1966. The existing water treatment plant at 44th Street had outgrown its useful life, necessitating the piecing together of a new site for a water treatment plant at 67th Street in the general vicinity of the expanding public works complex.

Miller said after Tuesday’s meeting the funding for the property acquisition would come from the town’s enterprise water fund.

“The public purpose for the purchase it to ultimately use it for the construction of a new water plant,” he said. “As such, the money that we will use for the purchase is from the fund balance in the water fund.”

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.