Council Approves Convention Center Study

OCEAN CITY – Resort officials this week approved funding for a master plan and parking study at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center.

On Tuesday, City Manager Terry McGean presented the Mayor and Council with a proposal for the Maryland Stadium Authority to contract with the consulting firm Crossroads for a convention center master plan and parking study. McGean said the study would address future expansions to the building and parking demand.

“Whatever we do with parking we want to make sure we don’t box ourselves in with the building,” he said.

Issues regarding parking at the convention center came to light during budget discussions held this spring. Currently, the number of events where parking demand exceeds supply is limited to only a handful of larger events at the convention center. But as event growth at the convention center increases, officials expect parking shortfalls to rise.

“The issues we have with parking are limited to larger events,” McGean said. “But as the convention center becomes more successful … we’re seeing the issue with parking continue to grow.”

To that end, McGean told council members this week he and Tourism and Business Development Director Tom Perlozzo held a conference call with the Maryland Stadium Authority, Ocean City’s partner in the convention center, and its consultant. He said the town is seeking the development of a plan to increase parking without restricting potential future expansions to the building.

“We asked for a master plan of the building and parking study to look at demand and recommendations to improve parking efficiency and increase parking availability,” he said.

McGean noted that the agency’s lead consultant, Crossroads, would focus on developing a master plan for the convention center, while a subconsultant, Walker Consultants, would focus on developing a parking demand analysis. The cost of the study is $57,000.

“The cost for the study would come from fund balance,” he said.

Mayor Rick Meehan questioned if the study would identify expansion areas.

“Will this identify the area where we can maximize the next area of expansion?” he asked.

McGean said it would.

“Yes, that’s the purpose of the master plan,” he replied.

Councilman Frank Knight noted that the study contract indicated parking occupancy counts should be completed on a day where significant events are held at the convention center. He said that should be a requirement.

“It should say counts will be completed,” he said.

With no further discussion, the council voted 7-0 to approve the proposal for the master plan and parking study at a cost of $57,500.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.