By Maddy Vitale
Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian and City Council are focused on preserving precious parcels of land available in the city.
In that effort, the city and Cape May County have negotiated an agreement for the county to purchase the old Getty gas station site at the corner of Bay Avenue and Ninth Street for $650,000.
According to the proposed agreement, the property will be leased back to the city for open space for $1 a year.
The former Getty parcel is the second blighted gas station site bought by the city in its plan to beautify the main entryway into town. The city created a quaint park out of the adjoining properties.
A former BP station was purchased in 2016 by the city for $475,000. An earlier county open space grant reimbursed the city for the entire cost of the old BP site.
Ocean City Public Information Officer Doug Bergen said of the pending purchase, “The mayor, City Council and Ocean City taxpayers are all grateful to Cape May County for the opportunity to preserve this open space. It’s especially meaningful because the park replaces a pair of abandoned gas stations.”
Bergen continued, “The partnership between the county and the city led to the removal of underground fuel tanks, restoration of undeveloped land, and beautification of the city’s gateway.”
The redevelopment of the old BP and Getty gas stations is key to the city’s strategy to beautify the Ninth Street corridor from the bay to the Boardwalk, creating a more appealing entryway for visitors arriving in town via the Route 52 Causeway.
During the Oct. 23 City Council meeting, an ordinance for the agreement between the city and the county for the former Getty site was approved on first reading. It is pending final approval by Council.
Already, the new park is being welcomed as a eye-catching addition. Todd Fath, who lives on Revere Place next to the park, was out taking his dogs, Daisy and Simba, for a walk on the thick grass recently.
Alluding to the blighted gas stations that once marred the site, Fath called the park “a beautiful way to recover the land.”
“This is a nice, open area. It’s a beautiful place,” he said.
At one time, the city tried to acquire land that was formerly an old Exxon gas station across the street from the BP and Getty properties. The city wanted to transform the old Exxon property into green space. However, Keller Williams, a real estate firm, owns the site and previously announced plans to build an office complex there.
City Council President Peter Madden called the proposed agreement by the county to purchase the Getty land proof of a good government partnership to preserve open space.
“We are getting county funding, which is great,” Madden said. “That is the most important thing. It shows that the times we do purchase land, we are doing it wisely, and looking to save the taxpayers as much money as we can, while preserving the open space.”