Mayor Jay Gillian began his tour of the neighborhoods Thursday with a visit to the Third Ward.
The mayor has promised to schedule a public meeting in each ward to answer questions from citizens about plans and issues of local interest.
Thursday's meeting took place at the , and Gillian was accompanied by Business Administrator Mike Dattilo, Finance Director Frank Donato, Public Works Director Mike Rossbach, Community Services Director Jim Mallon, Police Chief Chad Callahan, acting Fire Chief Charlie Bowman and City Solicitor Dorothy McCrosson. Third Ward Councilman John Flood also participated.
About 20 residents of the Third Ward attended in a mostly tame presentation and question-and-answer session.
Gillian opened with remarks emphasizing his administration's priorities of public safety, cleanliness and fiscal responsibility.
Dattilo outlined recent capital improvements from the Third Ward and listed current projects, including:
- The Aquatic and Fitness Center roof and HVAC improvements, which are near completion.
- A bulkhead replacement at 15th Street. A contract was awarded Sept. 8 for the repair, which would help alleviate flooding in the area. Bay water flowing through the bulkhead has undermined the work of new tidal valves in the storm-drain system, Dattilo said. (Bulkhead replacements at Fourth and Sixth streets are part of the same contract.)
- Automated irrigation systems for medians at 16th Street and Pleasure Avenue, Walnut Road and Barbados Lane to be put out to bid in the first quarter of 2012.
- Dredging of lagoon mouths between 17th Street and Waterway Road, which are not navigable at low tide. The $1 million project will be put out to bid in the second quarter of 2012 and could utilize an existing spoils site, which is near capacity, Dattilo said.
- Sewer upgrades at the Aquatic and Fitness Center.
Wesley Avenue resident John Stauffer asked about a recent state Department of Environmental Protection ruling that allows the development of vacant beachfront lots at 19th Street. Dattilo said, at this point, the lots are subject to the same zoning approval process as any other lots in Ocean City. But he suggested that City Council may consider the "possibility of litigation."
Bay Avenue resident Georgina Shanley asked about the future of the that was recently dismantled at Sixth Street and Boardwalk. "I give you my word we're going to bring it back in some form," Gillian said. He said the site will serve as a parking lot in the interim and will be part of a larger redesign of the city-owned property that includes Carey Stadium, the Civic Center, the parking lot and the shuffleboard courts.
The rest of the Q&A session touched on issues that ranged from a request for special considerations for year-round residents to the installation of rest-room facilities at Third Ward playgrounds and fields.
The next public meeting is set for the (south side of 26th Street to 59th Street, incuding the Ocean Reef community) 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at the social hall. Meetings for the First and Second wards have not yet been scheduled. See .