OCEAN CITY — Ocean City last week cut the ribbon on its new state-of-the-art public works campus at 65th Street with a surprise nod to the director whose vision it was to create the complex.
With Gov. Larry Hogan and state transportation officials on hand, the Town of Ocean City last Friday cut the ribbon on the new public works campus on the bayside roughly between 65th and 67th streets. In a bit of a surprise, the Mayor and Council named the new facility after longtime Public Works Director Hal Adkins, who, along with his staff, began designing the campus over a decade ago.
Adkins, who was taken aback by the announcement, will be honored with a plaque in his name at the administration building. The dedication plaque recognizes Adkins not only for his vision in creating the new public works campus, but also his decades of service to the town as its public works director.
“Dedicated in honor of his exceptional vision, leadership, and multiple decades of exemplary service to the citizens and visitors of Ocean City, Maryland and the efforts he put forth to provide the highest level of quality and professionalism for the town as director of public works,” the plaque reads.
Adkins, whose family and friends were on hand for the ribbon-cutting, was truly surprised by the dedication. The current Mayor and Council was on hand for the dedication, along with former councilmembers with whom he served over the decades. He later reached out to his colleagues thanking them for the gesture.
“Thank you for the recognition and arranging for my family to be in attendance,” he said. “What a memory to cherish, and only because it’s who I am, I will continue to inform anyone and everyone that may approach me about the dedication that my career has truly been a team effort of many, some still with me, some who have unfortunately passed, but will remain with me in memory.”
Mayor Rick Meehan had high praise for the longtime public works director.
“Hal has truly made his mark on Ocean City and this new Public Works and Transit Facility would not be possible without him,’ he said.
The original public works complex was completed in phases between 1982 and 1984. The original facility included the procurement department, a stock room, a service center for fleet maintenance, a bus storage facility and a single fuel depot for all municipal vehicles. At that time, the town’s transportation department consisted of around 13 buses known as “mighty mites,” and an overall staff of roughly 20 employees, the vast majority of which were seasonal.
By 2006, the fleet had grown to over 60 buses and the staff had grown to over 150 employees. At that point, the overall ability to store, maintain and service the fleet had surpassed the ability of the town’s resources. The public works complex lacked the daily office facilities, restrooms, and locker room space to adequately serve such a large seasonal staff.
In 2008, the town conducted a transit needs assessment in partnership with the Maryland Transportation Administration (MTA) which evaluated the public works campus and transit facilities. The completion of that study enabled the town to proceed with site planning, spatial needs and construction estimates for future capital improvements to the site.
In 2018, 10 years after the initial study and exhaustive efforts on planning and funding, the town solicited bids and awarded the project contract to Harkins Contracting. The new facility includes a bus storage facility, expansion of the fleet service bays, and two additional service bays for the larger 60-foot articulating buses.
The complex also includes a new administration building that houses the procurement department, a stock room, the fleet manager’s office, an automatic vehicle locator (AVL) room, a break room for all of the mechanics and the entire transportation department operational staff.
The complex also includes a bus-washing facility, an adjoining service facility for transit fare processing, and two new fuel depots. The vast complex also includes satellite areas for the police department, a midtown location for the beach patrol, an area for emergency services and other departments.
It also includes a holding area for use by the Department of Juvenile Services for juveniles who find themselves in trouble and cannot be mixed with the adult population in the cell areas of the Public Safety Building. The area will be utilized by juvenile services during the summer, and will be used by the Ocean City Police Department’s allied agencies during special events in the offseason.
Adkins began his career in 1984 as a plans examiner and worked his through the ranks to become public works director in 1989. He is largely credited for helping shepherd Ocean City through a period of great growth and development.