Council Okays Land Swap To Fire Volunteers

OCEAN CITY — Faced with growing pains at the West Ocean City station, the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company this week requested a boundary line adjustment at the town-owned property on Keyser Point Road.

Since 1974, the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company (OCVFC) has maintained a fire station, or Station 5, on a piece of property fronting Keyser Point Road in West Ocean City. The same general area of city-owned property is also home to a public works department facility. Additional town-owned land along Keyser Point was provided to the OCVFC in 1988 and again in 2006 as the needs of the fire company in the growing West Ocean City response area increased.

On Tuesday, the OCVFC requested another boundary line adjustment to facilitate further growth for the company’s West Ocean City station. OCVFC President Jay Jester explained the fire company has outgrown Station 5 and is hoping to expand again.

“When we rebuilt Station 5, we wanted more space,” he said. “Everything in there is so small. The offices are small and the storage areas are small. We have things stored on the floor in the apparatus bays and things hanging on the wall that encroach on the apparatus bays. It’s a safety issue.”

In addition to gaining increased storage and office space, Jester said the land swap was also needed to accommodate the OCVFC’s growing live-in program. During budget deliberations last month, it came to light the live-in program, which allows certain qualified volunteer firefighters and first-responders to live in the department’s firehouses free of charge, had grown exponentially since its inception a few years ago.

“The paramount reason for the request is for an expansion of the live-in program,” he said. “We currently have three suites that are about the size of a prison cell and all three are occupied. We’d like to be able to expand the space for the live-in program because it’s been wildly successful.”

The flag-shaped parcel in question is currently owned by the town’s public works department as part of its larger West Ocean City complex, but Public Works Director Hal Adkins said his department had no objection to conveying it to the OCVFC.

“On behalf of the public works department, I have no current or long-range need for this land,” he said. “We have no interest in it.”

The council voted 7-0 to convey the property to the OCVFC subject to county approval.

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.