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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.

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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