Ocean City Moves Ahead With Lumber Bid, Keeping Boardwalk Project On Schedule

Ocean City Moves Ahead With Lumber Bid, Keeping Boardwalk Project On Schedule
A couple is pictured biking on the newly redecked portion of the Boardwalk in May. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY — The second phase of a major Boardwalk re-decking project will go off as planned this fall after resort officials this week approved a recommendation for the low bid for the lumber for the project.

The complete re-decking of the Boardwalk has been in the works for a number of years and the first phase was completed last spring in advance of the summer season. The second phase is scheduled to begin this all after Sunfest weekend in October and is expected to be completed before the next summer season.

After a couple of pandemic-related setbacks with lumber costs and supply chain issues, the first phase, which covered the north end from the Boardwalk at 27th Street to 15th Street and the south end of the boards to the pier, has already been completed. The second phase, which will cover from 15th Street south to the pier, is expected to begin this fall and is on track after the Mayor and Council approved the low bid in a bit of an unorthodox way.

During last Monday’s meeting, bids were opened for the lumber needed for the second phase of the major Boardwalk re-decking project. Three bids were opened, the lowest of which came in under the $500,000 budget estimate for the project.

Two of the bids opened last week included alternates for two different grades of lumber, including the number-one prime grade and the more expensive, but slightly more durable, number-one dense grade. A third bid opened proposed an alternate tropical hardwood grade that was largely not considered.

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When the bids were opened last Monday, City Manager Terry McGean explained there was some urgency in the decision-making process because of fluctuations in the lumber industry. McGean said the council needed to act quickly on the submitted bids because they were subject to change in the market.

As a result, the Mayor and Council approved a motion to remand the opened Boardwalk lumber bids to staff for a review and a recommendation. It’s a common procedure for bid openings and typically the appropriate staff reviews the bids and comes back with a recommendation at the next meeting.

However, because of the urgency required with the bids that were subject to change because of the lumber market volatility, the council broke from tradition and moved forward with a different plan to recommend and approve the Boardwalk lumber bids.

After last Monday’s meeting and with no meeting this week, McGean, City Engineer Paul Mauser and staff reviewed the opened bids for the Boardwalk lumber and made a recommendation to the Mayor and Council via email on Friday. The elected officials reviewed the recommendation for the lowest bid and had to decide by Monday to accept the Boardwalk lumber bid.

McGean confirmed this week the council had accepted the recommendation for the low bid of around $465,000, which came in under the project budget of $500,000. As a result, the second phase of the Boardwalk re-decking project from 15th Street south to the pier is expected to begin in earnest right after Sunfest weekend, which has been moved back into October this year to accommodate other major special events in the resort.

The winning bid includes the use of the number-one prime grade of lumber, which Mauser last week described as more aesthetically pleasing but not quite as strong as number-one dense. He explained the number-one dense grade is more durable but has supply chain issues and is barely available. He explained going with the number-one dense grade, even if it was readily available, would have brought the project in considerably over budget.

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.