City Council on Thursday (Dec. 3) will consider two measures that could help restart the Ocean City’s long-stalled efforts to dredge bayfront lagoons and channels that are too shallow for boat traffic at low tide.
One resolution asks council to spend $226,000 for an engineering company to design experimental plans to spray a thin layer of dredged material across a wide area of marshes.
Another resolution asks council to award an $849,227 contract to Command Co Inc. of Egg Harbor City to build a temporary road across the marshes — providing access for trucks to haul away material from a disposal site that is filled to capacity.
Both measures address the same problem: Ocean City is willing to spend money to dredge the bay, but it has no place to put the material it dredges.
The only major disposal site approved by environmental regulators is located in the marshes near Roosevelt Boulevard (34th Street) and is full. A contractor is currently removing material from the site, transporting it by barge to a landing area under the 34th Street Bridge, then hauling it by truck to help cap a landfill in Wildwood.
The new road would provide easier access to “Site 83,” allowing trucks to empty the site more quickly to make room for new dredging projects. Read more: Roadway Across Marshes Could Jump Start Bayside Dredging.
Command Co Inc. was the lowest of nine bidders and any potential contract would be contingent on approval of a pending Army Corps of Engineers permit for the project.
The second resolution would award a $226,000 contract to ACT Engineering Inc. to design a wetlands restoration plan that would take advantage of a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to experiment with a new technique to “create and stabilize wetlands” — essentially to spread a thin layer of dredged material over a wide area of the marshes.
Dredging engineer Ram Mohan of Anchor QEA, LLC, an ACT Engineering subcontractor, told Ocean City residents in a presentation this summer that spraying a thin layer of material (6 to 12 inches) like rain across the marshes would increase the island’s ability to withstand storms and improve wildlife habitat at the same time.
Part of the firm’s work will be to look at historic maps and images of the marshes to determine what can be restored. Three potential areas include the area south of Site 83 (potentially providing a better barrier to flooding along Roosevelt Boulevard), an area east of the Ocean City Municipal Airport, and Garrett’s Island (where the Route 52 Welcome Center is located).
Mohan believes wetlands restoration could be an important element in ACT Engineering’s comprehensive master plan for Ocean City dredging. Read more: A Costly Quest to Unclog Ocean City Lagoons and Bayside.
Any potential plans would be subject to an extensive environmental permitting process.
ALSO ON COUNCIL AGENDA
The dredging-related resolutions are part of a full council agenda for a public meeting 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. The agenda also includes the following:
- $2.1 MILLION FOR ROADS: Council will consider the first reading of a bond ordinance that authorizes the spending of $2.1 million ($1,995,000 of it borrowed) to continue the next phases of Ocean City’s ongoing plan for road and drainage improvements.
- SHEDS: City Council will consider the second reading of an ordinance that eliminates a duplicate ordinance governing sheds.
- RENTAL UNIT FEES: City Council will consider the second reading of an ordinance eliminating mercantile license fees on units rented for more than 175 days. The fees will continue to exist for short-term rental units.
- EXTRA COSTS FOR DREDGING PLAN: City Council will consider a resolution that adds $190,750 to a $787,500 contract for ACT Engineering to provide a comprehensive strategy to dredge Ocean City’s bayfront from tip to tip.
For complete documentation on all agenda items, see the agenda packet in the PDF below.