“It’s the right place. It’s the right time,” Gillian said of the proposed project in remarks during a town hall meeting at the Ocean City Tabernacle to present conceptual plans to the public.
City officials have discussed a number of possibilities for replacing or modernizing the antiquated, 130-year-old public safety building, a former school that serves as the police department’s headquarters and location for the municipal court.
After considering different proposals, Gillian said he believes the best option is to combine the operations of the police and fire departments along with the office of emergency management, the 911 system and the municipal court in one centrally located building.
The fire department’s existing downtown headquarters at 550 Asbury Avenue would be demolished to make room for the new public safety building. Meanwhile, the current public safety building at Eighth Street and Central Avenue would also be torn down, but the space would be used for more parking in the downtown business district.
According to plans, the fire department’s headquarters at 550 Asbury Avenue will be demolished to create room for the new public safety building.
Construction on the new public safety building is expected to begin in the fall of 2021 and would take about 18 months to complete, city officials said. A series of preliminary steps must first be taken, including finalizing the architectural designs and hiring the construction contractor through the public bidding process.
Gillian said the existing public safety building, which dates to 1890, and the fire department’s headquarters, built in 1983, are simply too outdated to handle the technological demands and complexities of modern police and fire operations.
“It is such an important undertaking,” he said of the new project.
However, the mayor repeatedly told the audience of about 50 people inside the Ocean City Tabernacle that the project is still in the conceptual phase at this point and could be changed depending on the public’s feedback.
He pledged to pay close attention to suggestions from the public for possible improvements to such a major project.
“I’m just very serious when it comes to spending millions and millions of dollars,” Gillian said of his due diligence for city projects.