OCEAN CITY — It now appears the Ocean City Fire Department’s midtown Station 3, debated in recent years for redevelopment at 65th Street, will remain where it is for now.
In recent years, resort officials have debated moving the aging and outgrown Station 3 at 74th Street to the vast parking area along Coastal Highway in front of the Public Safety Building. In fact, the city agreed to spend $30,000 for a feasibility study of moving the station to 65th Street.
However, during strategic planning sessions this week, OCFD Chief Richie Bowers recommended a rebuild and renovation of the existing station at 74th Street rather than relocation.
“Fire Station 3 has served its purpose, but it has outlived its usefulness,” he said. “It needs to be modernized. We have a lot of needs if we really want to improve service. My opinion is the station is best situated where it currently is.
Bowers said the existing station should be renovated and modernized.
“We would need to maintain continuity of operations and we might need to acquire more land to do what we really need to do,” he said. “There is one more consideration. I suggest using the $30,000 for the study to start gathering an estimate for what it will cost to redo that station.”
The firehouse was built in 1969 and expanded in 1987. It has been part of a larger fire station multi-year strategic plan that has included a complete rebuild of fire headquarters at 15th Street and the rebuild of Station 4, or the Montego Bay station. City Manager Terry McGean added, “That $30,000 will get you a conceptual design and a program estimate. It will probably cost around $3.5 million, which is about what Station 4 cost.”
For his part, Bowers said it made more sense to re-allocate the $30,000 earmarked for the relocation feasibility study to developing conceptual plans and forming estimates for keeping the station where it is.
“I just think it’s a better use of the money,” he said. “We don’t need a study on where it should go. We believe it’s in the right place.”
Communications Director Jessica Waters, who moderated this week’s strategic planning sessions, asked the Mayor and Council and staff if that was their will in terms of an action item.
“It’s in the capital improvement plan for 65th Street,” she said. “Do you want to take the chief’s recommendation to leave it where it is?”
The consensus was to accept Bowers’ recommendation and leave the firehouse at 74th Street and to repurpose the $30,000 for the study to begin forming a conceptual plan and complete remodel estimates.