Bond Ordinance to Fund Nearly $11M. in Ocean City Projects

Bond Ordinance to Fund Nearly $11M. in Ocean City Projects

A $2.5 million renovation project will overhaul the 1970s-era swimming pool at the Aquatic & Fitness Center.


City Council introduced a nearly $11 million bond ordinance Thursday night to finance a series of capital improvements, including a new police substation on the Boardwalk and renovations to the swimming pool at the Aquatic & Fitness Center.

The $10.9 million funding package also includes $1 million to continue Ocean City’s multiyear dredging program for the back bays and lagoons. The city has been systematically clearing out the sediment-choked lagoons along the bayfront to make them deeper for boating traffic, the marinas and swimming.

Council introduced the ordinance by a 7-0 vote. A public hearing and final vote are scheduled for the Sept. 28 Council meeting.

The most expensive project financed by the bond ordinance is a police substation planned at Eighth Street and the Boardwalk. The project is currently under design and will cost an estimated $6.5 million when built in 2024, Chief Financial Officer Frank Donato said.

The substation is part of the city’s broader plan to upgrade the facilities for the police department. Mayor Jay Gillian announced plans earlier in the year to modernize the antiquated Public Safety Building at Eighth Street and Central Avenue.

The city has not yet revealed the cost or construction timetable for renovations to the Public Safety Building, which dates to 1890. The new bond ordinance does not include funding for the Public Safety Building. Funding for that project would come at a later date.

Ocean City’s fire department and beach patrol will also benefit from the new bond ordinance. It includes $200,000 for mobile data computers for the fire department and new radios for the beach patrol lifeguards.

Ocean City Fire Department will be getting new mobile data computers. (Photo credit: Ocean City Fire Department)

The city will also use the new bond ordinance to finance a $2.5 million renovation of the pool at the Aquatic & Fitness Center. The pool dates to the 1970s and is in need of repairs to a leaky drainage system, city officials said.

Vince Bekier, director of the city’s Operations and Engineering Department, noted that the pool will be “completely upgraded.”

The work is expected to be done in the summer of 2024, after designs are completed for the project and the construction contract is awarded, Bekier and Donato said.

One new feature that will be part of the project is a handicap-accessible ramp for the pool. It will replace a chair lift that is used now for handicap access.

The bond ordinance also includes $700,000 to design a new golf pro shop that is part of the city’s plans to build a new terminal at the municipal airport.

The city tentatively plans to start construction on the estimated $8 million terminal in late 2024. Designs for the project have not yet been completed.

Among the amenities, the new terminal will include better facilities for pilots, airport offices, a pro shop serving Ocean City’s public golf course next door and a new restaurant on the third floor with expansive views of the runway and back bay.

The proposed terminal will be partly funded by a previously announced $3 million donation from Ocean City’s Berger Realty owner Leon Grisbaum, an aviation enthusiast now in his 90s who was a private pilot for nearly 75 years.

The city has included $5 million in funding in its capital plan for its share of the terminal construction. However, Ocean City will apply for a $2 million to $3 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to partly offset the city’s cost, Donato said.

A new terminal will replace the airport’s small, existing building.

Built in 1935, the airport’s claim to fame is that it is the only one in New Jersey located on a barrier island. Its location on Bay Avenue at 26th Street is just a few blocks from the beach. It is not uncommon in summer to see people get out of their planes holding beach chairs and umbrellas.

Although the airport handles mostly small, single-engine planes, its nearly 3,000-foot runway is long enough to accommodate private jets. Pop superstar Taylor Swift is known to fly into the airport on her jet from time to time during visits to the Jersey Shore.

The airport has roughly 3,450 takeoffs/landings annually, which is consistent with years past. Recreational pilots, commercial charter flights and military aircraft use the facility.