Ocean City Today

Council prioritizes spending items

By Katie Tabeling | Nov 16, 2017

(Nov. 17, 2017) Although resort officials have not drafted a capital improvement plan yet, the City Council has prioritized six projects out of $105 million projects it hopes to complete in five years.

City Manager Doug Miller asked council to rank 24 projects before Wednesday’s session on a scale of green, yellow and red. Green signals as a must-do, while red is no real interest.

That showed the council prioritized the Second Street Public Works facility, the city-wide security improvements recommended by Homeland Security, demolishing Whiteside tram facility and building a new parking lot, annual street paving and Baltimore Avenue improvements, which include burying utilities and installing new sidewalks.

“I didn’t vote on this but it does line up with priorities we’ve discussed in earlier meetings,” Mayor Rick Meehan said.

Miller also out forth his own priority item for future discussions: the potential outdoor sports complex.

“From our strategic planning sessions, it showed the council was quite interested in sports marketing, but in order to do that we need a facility in the northern county,” he said. “We don’t know if the county is moving forward with this, or if it’s a public-private partnership. But it’s something we should keep on the radar.”

The council agreed to start a feasibility study for an Ocean City sports facility, although a cost is not determined at this time.

Councilman Dennis Dare championed funding $40,000 for an architecture study to re-design a new Fire Station 3 and to move it to 65th. That item was voted down by a council majority in March.

“We could put that money back in the budget to see what it would look like [financially] and make a decision at a later date,” he said. “At least find out.”

The council informally agreed to do so.

Two other items that languished for months also received the green light: improving Caine Woods roads and a design for the Third Street Recreation Complex.

Public Works Director Hal Adkins explained that for about 15 years, the city has discussed street-scaping and installing sidewalks in the neighborhood from 136th street to 141st street. Those roads are bare-bones, compared to 142nd Street north.

“I’ve held up repaving 136th Street because it’s unclear if we want to start here or wait,” he said.

“I think the majority of the council wants to see these improvements done, and not wait another two years to screw up the roads to do it again,” Councilman Matt James. “If we want this done, now’s the time.”

Recreation and Parks Director Susan Petito petitioned to hire an architect firm to get a better idea what the downtown recreation complex would look like. Because of the impending construction for the tram facility at Second Street, the city will have to demolish both tennis courts on Third Street, which opens up possibilities for renovate the park. One of the options is to replace one of the basketball courts with a grant-funded tennis court.

The councilmen that constitute the Recreation and Parks Commission disagreed with bringing on an architect firm in August, and thought the matter should be brought to the full council.

“I really believe it’s the most used recreation property we have in town [because of the basketball courts],” Meehan said. “I’d think it’d be a mistake to reduce the basketball courts. I support hiring an architect firm.”

Budget Manager Jennie Knapp said that $25,000 would be allocated for the Third Street Recreation Complex design plan.

All other projects will be organized by Miller and Finance Administrator Martha Bennett in a draft capital improvement plan and presented to the council at a later date.

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