first_imgRoad construction projects are part of the city’s strategy to protect neighborhoods from flooding. By DONALD WITTKOWSKIOcean City plans to spend nearly $16 million for an array of municipal projects, including road construction, stormwater pumping stations and drainage improvements to help reduce flooding on the barrier island.During a meeting Thursday night held by teleconference due to the coronavirus pandemic, City Council voted 6-0 to introduce a bond ordinance that will finance the projects. A public hearing and final vote on the ordinance are scheduled for the Council meeting on June 25.City Finance Director Frank Donato explained to Council that the bulk of the funding will pay for road reconstruction, drainage upgrades and new pumping stations as part of the city’s flood-mitigation strategy.Altogether, the city will spend $11.5 million for those types of projects. Plans include adding new pumping stations between Ninth and 26th streets to protect neighborhoods from stormwater.Donato noted that pumping stations between Ninth and 26th streets will “fill in that gap” where there currently are none. Pumping stations have recently been added to flood-prone sections of town between First and Eighth streets and 26th and 34th streets.Pumping stations are designed to intercept floodwater and channel it back into the bay much faster than it would normally take to drain off the streets after a coastal storm.More stormwater pumping stations will be built around town, such as this one while it was under construction in 2018 at the intersection of 30th Street and Haven Avenue.Road reconstruction and resurfacing projects and underground drainage improvements are another part of the city’s flood-control plan.Some of the projects slated for road improvements in the new bond ordinance include both the east and west sides of the Gardens Parkway, Atlantic Avenue from Fifth to Ninth streets and West Avenue between 27th and 34th streets, Donato said.Councilwoman Karen Bergman sought assurances from Donato that construction work would not be done during the peak summer tourism season.“We try at all costs to avoid construction during summer months,” Donato said.Mayor Jay Gillian and other city officials have been critical of a major construction project on Bay Avenue by the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority that spilled over into the start of the summer season, even though it was supposed to have been completed by Memorial Day weekend.Urged by the mayor to suspend the project for the summer, the county MUA agreed to halt construction until the fall. The construction work stretched along Bay Avenue from 31st Street to Eighth Street, forcing motorists to navigate through lane closures and detours for months.In remarks during Council’s meeting Thursday, Gillian said he was “absolutely disgusted” by the torn-up condition of the road.“It’s dangerous. It’s not right,” he said.Mayor Jay Gillian, shown at a City Council meeting in February, says he was “absolutely disgusted” by the torn-up condition of Bay Avenue before construction was suspended for the summer.The mayor, however, praised the MUA for suspending the project, which includes new underground force mains to carry wastewater to its treatment plant at 45th Street and the bay.Gillian announced earlier this week that a contractor would smooth out the rough spots on Bay Avenue with temporary paving that will remain in place until construction resumes in the fall. He promised that the road “will be beautiful” when the project is completed and permanently repaved.In other business Thursday, Council unanimously approved a new ordinance that will give homeowners the option of using grass block pavers as an option for building their driveways instead of having to use concrete.Grass block pavers are more aesthetically pleasing than concrete and are permeable, which allows stormwater to seep into the ground faster instead of pooling in the streets.During the public comment portion of the meeting, two residents urged the city to have construction standards for the grass block pavers.Council also unanimously approved a new ordinance that will help homeowners to repair damage to their houses that occurred during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.Under the ordinance, owners who want to elevate their damaged homes to comply with flood-protection requirements will not have to seek a zoning variance from the city.“It will broaden the number of buildings that can be elevated in Ocean City without having to go before the zoning board,” City Solicitor Dorothy McCrosson told the Council members while also noting the new ordinance is consistent with state law.last_img