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City Council Hears Plan for New Public-Private Marina

The proposed facility would be on public land on Bay Avenue at Second Street.

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.

George June 15, 2012 at 02:35 PM
While Ocean City does need a Marina, I'm not sure this should be done by the city, rather then by private investment. The lack of Fuel availablity at this facility is also an issue as boaters all go to somers point or 34th street, so all the potential revenue goes there. Bulk price for diesel is $2.70/Gal, and the marina in Somers point charges $3.75/gal at the moment.
Ed Sheppard June 15, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Under this plan, the city loses the revenue from the slips they currently rent, would receive no revenue from the rented slips or rent from the marina operator, would recieve no property taxes since the city owns the land, yet would incur the expense of maintain the dry land portion of the property. That's not "revenue neutral" as the city claims, that's "taking a loss". Why not just sell it back to the guy so that way the taxpayers aren't getting the shaft?
propertywatcher June 15, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Wow Mr. Sheppard, that's a great idea....seriously. Actually the County owns it and OC leases it from the County for $1.00 per yr. The County would benefit from the sale. I was at the meeting last night and was completely caught off guard by the "informal presentation" given by Mr. Scarborough since it was not on the adgenda. I was assured by Ms. McCrossen (City Solicitor) that proper Notice and Informational Meetings would happen BEFORE this proposal is voted on by Council. She is honest and aware of the taxpayers concerns. Councilman Hartzell also suggested adaquate involvement with the public. I left with a confidence that the public concerns will be heard and addressed.
propertywatcher June 15, 2012 at 04:01 PM
In addition to the cost deficeit to the City, I worry about the City being held responsible if something happens (actually WHEN) something happens negatively there. Let's face it, the perception is that OC has "deep pockets" and the reality is that OC Settles lawsuits. I even think the proposed name for the marina is "Ocean City Marina".
City4Sale June 15, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Some concerns raised during and after the council meeting include: 1) loss of view to neighbors due to the bulk of the slips having lifts which will elevate the boats 2)loss of view due to the construction of showers, bathroom and dock house 3)loss of access to the docks as there will be a secured dock no longer available to all county residents 4) Isnt there history here which included the marina owners and lawsuits with the condo owners, are we swimming into the deep end again without doing due diligence 5) last but not least PARKING 90 boating familys and 30 jets skis will bring overflow parking onto simpson and haven single family neighborhoods
Eric Sauder June 17, 2012 at 03:48 PM
There's no question there has been an attempt to railroad this thru. You have to look at it for what it is. This is a for profit commercial venture. Public land will be used for private profit. The partners are Scarboro (a private investor) and the City.. Since some of that land is in Green Acres it cannot be sold to a private enterprise. But there is a way to make money off of it and that's what this proposition is all about. It would be nice to see an investment in the harbor, but it will be a private investment for which (you can bet) there will be a profitable private return. I'd like to know how much money the City will make off the lease. Or is that not the issue?
Eric Sauder June 17, 2012 at 05:15 PM
What's with "revenue neutral?" You can bet it won't be revenue neutral for Scarborough. Why shouldn't the taxpayers (who own that property) make money off of it too? Who besides Scarborough will be making money off of that public land?
OCLocal June 18, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Boy are you guys smart. Let's sell it back to him and let him build condos. Wonder how the view will be then? Like I said before, here's an adea for a nice attraction for OC. Let's see how the negative people can shoot it down. That's the OC way.
Duffer June 18, 2012 at 01:14 PM
So you don't see the obvious corruption in this whole mess??? If you want to talk about zoning laws that is a whole nother topic. This thing just stinks to the high heavens. PS: I would have no problem with single family homes built on that property so long as they are built on proper sized lots with adequate parking.
Eric Sauder June 18, 2012 at 02:52 PM
You can't build condos or single family on land that has been designated for Green Acres.

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