Mayor Proposes New Five-Year Capital Plan for Ocean City Upgrades

first_imgOcean City Public Safety Building By Donald WittkowskiMayor Jay Gillian proposed a $112.2 million, five-year capital plan Tuesday night that would pack a series of big-ticket projects in 2017, including an overhaul of the antiquated public safety building and the continuation of upgrades to the tourist-friendly Boardwalk.Calling it a “bold” blueprint for the future, Gillian said the plan spreads out improvements across the entire town and addresses Ocean City’s critical infrastructure needs after years of neglect.“The five-year capital plan you’re about to see dedicates more than $112 million to fixing up everything in the city – from flooded streets to shallow lagoons, from tip to tip, from Boardwalk to bay,” Gillian said in prepared remarks while unveiling his proposal to City Council during a budget workshop.The mayor told Council that his plan reflects what he has heard over and over from local residents – that they want action and are “tired of waiting for somebody else to kick the can down the road.”“They want their streets to drain. They want to be able to take their boats out. They want open space. They want to enjoy the beaches and Boardwalk and downtown. They want Ocean City’s exceptional services,” Gillian said.The plan runs from 2017 to 2021 and represents a 14 percent increase over the five-year, $98.5 million capital program that Gillian proposed in 2016.“It’s a lot of money,” Gillian said. “And I don’t make this recommendation lightly. But I’m confident that it’s a responsible plan.”Mayor Jay Gillian, second from left, and members of his senior management team unveiled the $112.2 million, five-year capital plan.There is a financial cost for local property owners. On average, the capital plan would increase the local property tax rate by about a penny per year. On a home assessed at $500,000, that would mean about an extra $50 annually in local taxes, or $250 over five years.“It’s going to come with a price, so we want to be honest with the taxpayers,” said Frank Donato, the city’s chief financial officer.The biggest tax hit would be felt this year, because the plan proposes spending more money – nearly $52 million – in 2017 than in any other year.“Much of the funding is front-loaded for 2017, and taxpayers may feel the greatest impact this year,” Gillian said. “Once we get through some of the major projects in the next year, the plan calls for trimming back – without losing a focus on roads and drainage.”Donato explained that the tax rate would increase by about 2.5 cents to 3 cents in 2017, reflecting an extra $125 to $150 in property taxes on a home assessed at $500,000.The capital plan is in response to local property owners who have urged the city to complete long-neglected projects in virtually every part of town, the mayor said.“I hear from residents every day, and this plan delivers what they ask for,” he said.City Council will scrutinize the plan and is scheduled to take a vote on Feb. 9.City bonds backed by local tax revenue would finance a large portion of the capital plan. The plan also would depend on grants and a variety of state and federal funding.Major improvements proposed for 2017 include a series of road and drainage projects in every ward of the city. Altogether, $10.4 million worth of paving and drainage upgrades are planned in 2017 to help reduce flooding, particularly during coastal storms.Gillian said Monday’s powerful nor’easter, which unleashed widespread flooding along the Jersey Shore, illustrated the importance of Ocean City’s plan to improve its roadway and drainage network.Continuing what he started in 2016, Gillian is once again placing a big emphasis on dredging projects to clear out the city’s sediment-choked lagoons and channels along the back bays. After setting aside $10 million for dredging projects in 2016, Gillian will follow up with $7.5 million for similar work this year.Boat owners have repeatedly complained that they are often trapped at their docks or have to wait until high tide to navigate through the shallow lagoons and channels.Similar to last year, the Boardwalk will be another major focus of the capital plan in 2017. In all, the Boardwalk would receive about $6.6 million in upgrades, including $4.7 million for its reconstruction from 10th to 12th streets. The Boardwalk’s reconstruction between 10th and 12th streets represents the final phase of a multiyear project to replace aging wooden planks with new timber from Fifth Street to 12th Street.The single-most expensive project proposed in the capital plan for 2017 is a $17.5 million renovation and expansion of the public safety building, a century-old structure that houses the police department and municipal court. Gillian originally proposed tearing down the building and replacing it with an all-new public safety complex, but now considers the renovation plan the most cost-efficient option.“This plan preserves a historic building while stabilizing and updating it,” the mayor said. “It does not eliminate parking from any other area of town. It does not require the purchase of any land or impact any other part of Ocean City. It does not entail any interruption of services during construction. And, again, it’s the most responsible way to do it.”The boardwalk improvements will continue under the new capital plan.One local resident, Michael Hinchman, a former president of the government watchdog group Fairness In Taxes, questioned the renovation cost of the public safety building. He argued that the building really only needs a new roof and a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.“I can’t get my head around that,” Hinchman said of the estimated $17.5 million price tag.The first floor of the old building will be removed to comply with flood requirements by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Gillian noted that much of the project’s construction cost will come from stabilizing the building once the first floor is removed.Meanwhile, the capital plan will be scrutinized by Council for possible changes before it takes a vote, which is scheduled for Feb. 9.Although Council members generally seemed receptive to the plan during Tuesday’s budget workshop, there were some questions about the impact on local taxes and whether more road projects could be done.Councilman Michael DeVlieger, who represents the First Ward, urged Gillian to consider building more road projects for the north end of town and getting them in the pipeline sooner. DeVlieger said he receives more complaints from local residents about the roads than any other issue.“I’d like to find a way of doing more,” DeVlieger said of the possibility of adding road projects in the First Ward.Councilman Keith Hartzell asked Donato a series of questions about the capital plan’s tax implications. Donato told him that the increase in the local tax rate would average about a penny per year. Hartzell said he believed residents would ultimately support a tax increase to fund capital improvements.However, Hartzell stressed that the public should not think the governing body will simply write “a blank check” to finance the capital plan. He said the proposal will be closely reviewed by Council before it takes a vote.“I guess this will take a leap (of faith) from us and a lot of questions from taxpayers,” Hartzell said.last_img read more

Continue reading

Middle Island Crash Leaves Man Dead

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A 30-year-old Bay Shore man was killed when he crashed his car into a utility pole in Middle Island on Thursday afternoon.Suffolk County police said Timothy Melia was driving a Hyundai Santa Fe eastbound on East Bartlett Road when he failed to negotiate a turn in the road, hit a pole and the car flipped on its side in a wooded marshy area at 4:20 p.m.The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. His identity was not immediately released.Seventh Squad detectives impounded the vehicle, are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information on the crash to call them at 631-852-8752.last_img

Continue reading

The seven-year hitch

first_imgWould you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.last_img

Continue reading

How Arsenal beat Tottenham to the signing of William Saliba

first_img Comment William Saliba has been in outstanding form since his return form injury (Picture: Getty)Arsenal’s porous defence cost them a place in this season’s Champions League and again threatens to undermine their hopes of a top four finish in the Premier League this term.They do, however, appear to have a genuine star on their hands in the formidable shape of Saliba, much to the annoyance of current Saint-Etienne boss Claude Puel who questioned the decision to cash-in on their prize asset so early in his career.Speaking to L’Equipe last week, Puel said: ‘It’s done. Saint-Etienne have held their rank these past few years. Finishing fourth is a great result. Work was done in the short-term.‘Is this model viable? I don’t think it can make the club a success. Rather than buying a ready-made player, I’d rather we buy him to develop him and help him grow.‘It’s hard to accept that we sell our best player, a young kid, to help fill the coffers. When you have to sell your gems to round up the budget and then do short term deals to fill in the gaps, you’re being reactionary.’MORE: Senior Arsenal players frustrated by Unai Emery’s post-training meetingsMORE: Paul Merson tells Arsenal to replace Unai Emery with Brendan Rodgers and give Leicester City boss ‘five-year contract’ Metro Sport ReporterTuesday 5 Nov 2019 3:38 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link3.2kShares How Arsenal beat Tottenham to the signing of William Saliba William Saliba signed for Arsenal in the summer before rejoining Saint-Etienne on loan (Picture: Getty)Arsenal beat Tottenham to the signing of William Saliba despite their north London rivals offering a more attractive financial package.Saint-Etienne reluctantly agreed to the sale of the 18-year-old for £27million on the condition that he was allowed to rejoin them on a season-long loan deal.Arsenal had been confident of signing the player before Tottenham showed significant interest and, according to The Athletic, were prepared to offer a higher salary and guarantees of regular first team football.Saliba, however, only had eyes for Arsenal, while head of football Raul Sanllehi used his close relationship with the French club’s president, Bernard Caiazzo, to get the deal over the line.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENTThe teenager’s return to Saint-Etienne’s starting XI, meanwhile, following a groin injury has coincided with a series of improved results, culminating in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Monaco during which the central defender put in another commanding display. Advertisement Advertisementlast_img read more

Continue reading

Boxing: Golovkin retains crown

first_imgWorld Boxing Association middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin stopped Mexico’s Marco Antonio Rubio in the second round Saturday to keep his title, taking his 18th consecutive knockout triumph in emphatic fashion, AFP reports.The unbeaten 32-year-old from Kazakhstan, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist, improved to 31-0 with 28 knockouts, the latest coming 79 seconds into the second round and extending a streak of victories inside the distance that began in 2008.“I loved this fight,” Golovkin said. “I don’t like dancing. I like to fight. This was a true fight. He didn’t step back.”Golovkin, defending his world title for a 12th time, landed an uppercut to stun Rubio and finished off the fight with a powerful overhand left. Rubio tried to rise but referee Jack Reiss counted him out before he made it back onto his feet.Golovkin could be looking at a unification showdown against the winner of an expected fight between World Boxing Council champion Miguel Cotto and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.last_img read more

Continue reading