By MADDY VITALE
Ocean City’s boat ramp at the bay end of Tennessee Avenue is an amenity that gives boaters and other watercraft enthusiasts a convenient location to enjoy the water.
The public boat ramp is the only one in the city and has been a mainstay for boaters, paddleboarders, WaveRunner and Jet Ski riders and kayakers for years.
The city maintains the area and in recent years has made some major improvements there, including repaving the boat ramp parking lot and adding new floating docks, among other upgrades.
And this year, the list of improvements is getting longer with the latest plan to make the boat ramp and kayak launch site even better, Mayor Jay Gillian explained.
The latest upgrades will be coming soon. On Jan. 26, City Council approved a professional services contract for ACT Engineers, a Robbinsville-N.J. based firm, to design a plan for a new boat ramp and floating docks at the site, among other improvements.
Council approved a $53,200 contract for ACT Engineers, the city’s longtime consulting firm, to do the design, create the construction plans and prepare the bid documents for the project.
ACT will hold several meetings to keep city officials abreast of the progress, along with doing public outreach so that the community remains informed, according to city documents.
Gillian said improvements to the boat ramp help the entire community.
“We will upgrade the site and make it even better,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “The boat ramp is such an asset.”
Ocean City Public Information Officer Doug Bergen outlined some of the planned upgrades.
They include the replacement, elevation and extension of the bulkhead, including a removable section to cover the entire frontage of the area.
“Work also will include reconfiguration and replacement of the concrete ramp used by boat trailers, elevation of a portion of the parking lot for flood resiliency, some new pilings, and more improvements to the launch area for kayaks and paddleboards,” Bergen explained.
Gillian noted that making improvements to the site not only gives boaters and other watercraft enthusiasts a better experience, but it also helps to showcase another great area for visitors and residents to enjoy.
He added that the upgrades, including more bulkheading, will also provide a stronger buffer to help “seal up” the area from storms.
“It is all about quality of life,” he said. “It really is a beautiful place and an asset. People go there to watch the sunsets. It is really amazing.”
Gillian added that like many other areas in town, from the beaches with long beach mats and ADA ramps to the beaches, the city makes it a priority to improve accessibility for all people to enjoy the amenities.
“It will be guest-friendly for everyone,“ he said of the boat ramp. “It is important for us to give accessibility to the beaches, bays and lagoons to everyone.”
He also pointed out that there are grants the city is looking into to help offset the cost of the project, which has yet to be determined.
In 2018, the city repaved the boat ramp’s parking lot as part of a $1.2 million road project that also included work to surrounding streets.
“The 2018 work at the Tennessee Avenue boat ramp included repaving the parking lot and replacing a floating dock,” Bergen said.
Upgrades to the boat ramp in 2018 also included a new floating dock for kayakers, paddleboarders and WaveRunner and Jet Ski riders.
Another improvement in 2018 was new padding on the pilings for the floating docks to protect boats from damage.
Ocean City’s boat ramp is open seven days a week during the summer. The next closest public boat ramps, which are outside of Ocean City, are a few miles away in Corson’s Inlet and Somers Point, city officials have said.