(Aug. 1, 2014) Under a particularly tight budget, the city plans to move forward this year with plans to renovate the Ocean City Fire Department headquarters on 15th Street.
City Council reviewed preliminary designs this week to repair and expand the city’s main firehouse, which has gone through a number of internal reconfigurations in past decades, but without an expansion of the building’s gross square footage.
“You’ll recall that we expanded the bunk room, we added a training room, and all of this was done without increasing the total size of the building,” said City Engineer Terry McGean.
To accommodate, drastic cuts had been made in the building’s original allotment of storage and office space. Those facilities will be returned, and then some, with the expansion.
The city also plans to repair the exterior of the building.
“Firstly, and something we’ve known for a long time, is the restoration of the exterior of the building,” McGean said. “We’ve had issues with leaking roofs, windows, and moisture in the walls.”
“We’ve also had complaints from the crews that the air is very stale, and so we want to address the HVAC condition as well.”
McGean’s plan calls for the southeast wing of the building to expand 22 feet along Coastal Highway, adding 1,980 square feet worth of conference and office space as well as private computer rooms for patient records.
“We have HIPPA requirements that we need to deal with now, as those are done on computer,” McGean said.
The northwest corner of the existing building will also grow, expanding the north engine bay and adding another 1,872 square feet. This will allow the department to have its own tool room for repair of equipment and vehicles on the ground floor, and an exercise room to be located above the engine bay.
The project’s total cost is currently estimated at $1,980,000, including a ten percent contingency, although this number has been creeping up over time.
The renovation’s original budget was $1.5 million when money was borrowed in 2012, but savings from other projects in the past two years have since been added to the headquarters effort.
“Those were all projects that were in the same bond issue,” McGean said, “You cannot take that money and put it back into the general fund, but you can use it for other capital improvements.”
The city is nearly complete with the reconstruction of OCFD Station Four, on 130th Street, which ended up with some savings. The city also saw a windfall of nearly a half-million in the Boardwalk budget, with the winning contractor bidding much lower than expected after it was found that the old decking could be re-sold.
Even with the additional funds, Councilman Dennis Dare said, “the building’s been under a lot of renovations over the years, and this is a very comprehensive look.”
“We may need to be prepared for additional things they find as they do a very comprehensive and long-overdue renovation,” Dare said.
Actual work on the project would likely begin this fall, McGean said, with structural work on the engine bay being done in the off-season and work on the office areas continuing through summer 2015. The building will be occupied and functional throughout the project.