City Council heard a presentation Thursday on a proposed public-private partnership to develop a marina on public land on Bay Avenue near Second Street.
Ocean City Marina, LLC, hopes to lease the public property to operate the marina. The company is a division of Scarborough Properties, and Sean Scarborough made a similar last week.
The city purchased the marina site in 2009 for $3 million with the help of $738,000 in state Green Acres preservation grants. The city then sold the property to Cape May County for $2,261,225 — in essence paying off the balance of the purchase price for the property.
The sale preserved one of the few undeveloped and publicly accessible properties on the bay side of Ocean City. The county made the purchase as part of its open space program, and the city leases the land from the county for $1 per year and operates a marina there. But city officials say the site is underutilized as a marina (only six or seven boats dock there) and public recreation area.
Scarborough's presentation outlined the public benefits:
- A floating pier with a 60-foot ramp for disabled access.
- The pier would have a launch area for kayaks and paddleboards.
- The end of the pier would have an 8-by-38-foot floater for use as a public fishing pier day and night.
- The pier would include transient slips for boats and waverunners.
- A restroom would be constructed on the upland portion of the property.
The private benefits would be:
- Two fixed piers (gated) that would accommodate 27 boat slips each equipped with a mechanical lift.
Ocean City Marina, LLC, would pay for all improvements, public and private, and keep all revenue from the rental of the boat slips. The company would not pay the city rent. The proposed deal would be "revenue neutral" to the city, according to City Solicitor Dottie McCrosson.
The city would continue to manage and maintain the upland portion of the property as a public area. The property includes a crushed-shell parking lot and a small grassy area with picnic tables overlooking Great Egg Harbor Bay.
Councilman Keith Hartzell suggested a neighborhood meeting to inform residents of the potential plan, and Business Administrator Mike Dattilo said a public information session is already part of the plan.
The presentation to City Council was informational only. The public information session would take place before any formal action is brought before City Council.
The contractor is hoping City Council will act soon, so the company can submit applications for required state Coastal Areas Facilities Review Act (CAFRA) and federal Army Corps of Engineers permits. Ocean City Marina, LLC, hopes to get approval by January 2013 and open the marina by Memorial Day 2013.