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Ocean City

City still has time to alter OCBP project after proposals received

(Sept. 13, 2013) With an architect to be selected soon, the city will likely be making some tough decisions in the upcoming weeks about the final scope of the new Ocean City Beach Patrol headquarters building.

Tuesday was the deadline for bids on the project’s design work. Price was only 25 percent of the rubric to be used in judging the bidders, with previous work history and other qualifications receiving weight as well.

If all goes well, the selected architect will likely nail down the project’s scope by October, with final documents ready for construction by early spring.

“What we’ll try to do is have a conceptual design of the space program ready by the end of October so that we’re ready for the bond market,” City Engineer Terry McGean said. “Full construction documents would probably take us sometime into February or March.”

The city is slated to issue a capital improvement bond to borrow money for the work. Bonds are typically sold at the end of the calendar year, given the more favorable interest rates.

“The question then will be if we want to start work in the summer or wait until the off-season,” McGean said.

The project’s current space program, the allocation of rooms and square footage, calls for a 10,620-square-foot facility with an estimated value of $2 million.

However, the city’s leadership is interested in reducing the scope of the project, given its almost entirely seasonal use and the overall size of the city’s upcoming bond issuance, of which the beach patrol’s cost is just part of a projected $12 million in new borrowing.

“The $2 million budget is the maximum for the bidders,” McGean said. “There’s still room to go lower.”

Bids for the project were initially set to to be received two weeks ago, but the request for proposals was suspended indefinitely last month given uncertainties about the project’s location and the corresponding land-swap deal with the Ocean City Development Corporation, the city-sponsored non-profit that facilitates downtown revitalization.

By the council’s final August meeting, however, a deal had been reached between the city and the OCDC to finalize the exchange, in which the town receives the OCDC’s lot on Talbot Street for a new OCBP building, in exchange for OCDC receiving the old OCBP building and lot as a future development site for what is commonly called the “model block” initiative.

The OCDC will also pay for 35 percent of the construction costs for the new OCBP building, citing its interest in keeping beach patrol facilities and employees downtown as a base for further business development.

The current OCBP building was used as the city’s primary police station until 1993, when the Public Safety Building was built and the Ocean City Police Department abandoned the facility. Since the OCBP moved in, the building has continued to deteriorate and is wracked with mold, asbestos peeling and structural damage.

The preliminary allocation of space in McGean’s initial design for the new structure incorporates a number of purpose-built elements that have been unavailable in the current re-purposed facility. The Junior Beach Patrol program is allotted 250 square feet of separate office and storage space in the new layout. Offices and storage for instructors is allotted another 500 square feet. Five offices for lieutenants, as well as a captain’s office, occupy 1,250 square feet all together. An 800-square-foot multi-purpose room, as well as a 300-square-foot, 25-seat classroom are also featured.

“The first thing we’ll do when we get the architect on board is to sit down with the users and go through this schedule,” McGean said. “We’ll say ‘These are the rooms you told us you needed, at the sizes you needed. Do you really need this many square feet for offices, this many for storage, etc.?’”

“We’ll basically go through this room-by-room,” he said.

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