Ocean City Plan Calls for Wider Beaches, Deeper Bays, Drier Streets
City Council considers a five-year plan for capital improvements.
The city administration on Thursday evening outlined an ambitious five-year plan to fix roads, beaches and boardwalk in Ocean City.
At a public workshop meeting, City Council got its first glimpse of proposed capital spending for 2013 to 2017. The plan — still subject to item-by-item approval by council through the next several years — suggests spending $24 million to improve paving and drainage on Ocean City streets, $7.2 million to replace the Boardwalk between Fifth and 12th streets, and $3.7 million to widen beaches and deepen bayside lagoons.
At the same time, the city will be using federal disaster relief money to repair damage from the Oct. 29 Superstorm Sandy (see detail). Some of the repair projects and regularly planned improvements may cross over as the city continues to assess damage from the storm.
"This is very much a work in progress," Business Administrator Mike Dattilo said.
- Beach Paths: The city hopes to spend $15,000 per year to provide better beach access for the disabled.
- Beach Replenishment: The plan includes $750,000 for a 2013 beach-widening project on the south end (which would represent Ocean City's portion of an approximately $10 million federal project that has not yet been approved). It also includes $1.75 million for a regular scheduled north-end/downtown maintenance project in 2015.
- Bayside Dredging: The plan includes $250,000 for 2013 dredging of Glen Cove and Snug Harbor (on either side of the Ninth Street Bridge). The plan would be contingent on approval of a Route 52 spoils site.
- Paving and Drainage: The plan calls for spending $5 million per year. The administration had presented a detailed plan to City Council in October. Projects will be determined on a ratings-based system and to take advantage of economies of scale on existing projects.
- Boardwalk Replacement: The city will spend $1.7 million per year to replace the substructure and decking of the Boardwalk between Fifth and 12th streets.
- New Public Safety and Court Building: The plan tentatively includes $10 million (from 2015 to 2019) for a still-developing plan to build a new combined Fire Department, Police Department and Municipal Court building at the site of the existing Fire Department headquarters at 550 Asbury Avenue. The city would then have the existing police station on the 800 block of Central Avenue for parking, senior housing or other potential uses.
- Boardwalk Water Fountains and Foot Baths: The city plans to spend $25,000 for improved public amenities.
- 15th Street Playground: $100,000 will buy equipment, safety surface, fencing, resurfacing basketball courts and a rest room in 2013.
- Moorlyn Terrace to Eighth Street Connector: A $300,000 roadway will create better circulation on the beach blocks of two Ocean City streets where parking is at a premium.
The capital plans for 2013 to 2019 include about $70 million in proposed spending and would be achieved with bond sales in 2012 ($9.9 million), 2016 ($27 million), 2019 ($45 million) and 2020 ($24 million), according to a presentation by Ocean City Finance Director Frank Donato and Leon Costello of Ford-Scott & Associates, LLC.
Ocean City saw an average annual increase in debt service of 4.27 percent between 2006 and 2012, according to Donato. A $9.4 million bond sale this week will create a one-time 12 percent increase for 2013 but allow Ocean City to take advantage of extremely low interest rates — a substantial long-term benefit for taxpayers.