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Sea Isle and Ocean City Team up For Recreation Project

Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2020



Sea Isle City will receive some help from Ocean City as it begins the multiyear process of planning, designing and building a new community recreation center that is expected to cost at least $10 million.

City Council approved an agreement Tuesday for Sea Isle to pay $144,000 to Ocean City over the next three years for project management services for the proposed recreation complex on Park Road.

Roger Rinck, Ocean City’s project manager, will play the same role for Sea Isle while he oversees the recreation center from “cradle to grave,” Sea Isle Business Administrator George Savastano told the Council members at their meeting Tuesday.

Savastano noted that the same type of arrangement worked out well when Rinck supervised the construction of Sea Isle’s City Hall in 2015. A new, $11.8 million City Hall was built when its predecessor was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Having Rinck serve as project manager for the recreation center should save Sea Isle tens of thousands of dollars compared to the city going out and hiring a private contractor to perform the same job, Savastano said in an interview after the Council meeting.

Rinck will work under a shared-services agreement between Sea Isle and Ocean City. Sea Isle will have the ability to evaluate his duties from month to month. Depending on the amount of work Rinck does, Sea Isle may not have to pay out the full $144,000 over three years, Savastano said.

Sea Isle is moving ahead with plans to redevelop the old public school site at 4501 Park Road into a community recreation center, but the facility will not include an indoor swimming pool following overwhelming taxpayer opposition to that part of the project.

The city conducted an online survey last fall of local property owners to gauge community sentiment for a pool as a prelude to building the recreation facility.

In the survey, 76.2 percent of the respondents voted against the pool, while 23.8 percent were in support. In all, there were 2,552 votes, the city announced.

Separately, the city included a nonbinding referendum on the Election Day ballot asking local residents whether they supported the pool. The vote was 489 against the pool and 386 in favor.

Previously, the city had estimated a recreation center with a pool would cost between $17 million and $20 million, plus an additional $500,000 to $1 million annually to maintain and staff the new facility.

Savastano estimated that a pool-less recreation center will cost between $10 million and $15 million. According to figures in Sea Isle’s five-year capital plan, about $1 million will be spent in 2020 to design the project. The capital plan proposes spending $12 million in 2021 to build the facility, although that is an early estimate.

Barring any major delays or problems, construction is expected to get underway in the second half of 2021 and would take about 18 months to complete, putting the grand opening in early 2023, Savastano said.

For more than two years, Sea Isle officials have been discussing the redevelopment of the old school into a recreation facility. The school, which closed in 2012 due to Sea Isle’s declining student population, occupies the entire block bordered by Park Road, Central Avenue, 45th Street and 46th Street. The school building will be demolished to make room for the new project.

Sea Isle officials have pledged that the public will be closely involved with the city in the design and planning of the recreation center.

Up to this point, the city has crafted some “conceptual designs” for the project. An architect will be hired this year to develop formal designs. In the meantime, the city will present some concepts to Council and the public in the next few months to begin collecting feedback, Savastano said.