By MADDY VITALE
The former Perry-Egan car lot, which has since been demolished, left an eyesore adjacent to the Community Center, the hub of activity for the Ocean City community.
Mayor Jay Gillian wants to ensure that until city officials determine what to do with the open space with community input, it will be a place free of hazards.
This week, workers have been filling in the area, especially where the car dealership once stood. The site is bordered by 16th and 17th streets between Haven and Simpson avenues.
“Workers have started to put down materials to make that area safer so that there are no trip hazards. When the project is done, it will be able to be safely walked on and can be used for parking,” mayor’s aide Michael Allegretto said Thursday.
The work began at the beginning of this week. Allegretto said the work is expected to be done soon, but he did not have an exact date.
The city is using byproducts from current road projects that are crushed and able to provide a smooth surface. There were potholes and other uneven areas of the lot that needed to be filled in.
Allegretto emphasized that this use of the site for, in part, a parking area is only temporary.
“We are still planning to hold the town hall meeting to get feedback from the public,” he said.
Gillian said in a statement back in in March that, “The short-term plans for the summer will be to clean up the property and make it look nice for the neighborhood.”
That same month, the city completed its acquisition of the block of land to preserve it as open space. The city approved about $6.9 million to buy the site, but Gillian said the final price will be determined by the courts as part of Ocean City’s acquisition of the land through eminent domain.
In the fall, the city will schedule a town hall meeting and provide other opportunities to solicit ideas from the public for long-term plans, officials have said.
“It will remain open space, but the city would be looking for suggestions for how the area can best be used and enjoyed by all,” Gillian has said.
The city fought for over two years to purchase the privately owned land that the car dealership was on.
The focus was to protect it and preserve it from a proposed housing development.
With the acquisition of that parcel and two other pieces of land next door, a five-block area from 15th Street to 20th Street will be for public use.
It will stretch from Emil Palmer Park to the Ocean City Community Center, to the tennis and pickleball courts, to the Ocean City Intermediate School, city officials have said.