Gillian says no to boardwalk hardwood

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The latest redecking project on the Ocean City Boardwalk uses screws instead of nails, and a thicker board. Mayor Jay Gillian says it will last longer than previous projects, and that the city should not consider using tropical hardwood. The latest redecking project on the Ocean City Boardwalk uses screws instead of nails, and a thicker board. Mayor Jay Gillian says it will last longer than previous projects, and that the city should not consider using tropical hardwood. OCEAN CITY — In his most recent statement to residents, Mayor Jay Gillian said he will not consider tropical hardwood for the Ocean City Boardwalk.

The use of the material has long been a controversial topic in the city, where supporters point to the wood’s long useful life and appearance, while many environmentalists say the cost to tropical rainforests and the people who live there are too high.

The issue was raised most recently when City Councilman Mike DeVlieger asked for a cost comparison between tropical wood and the yellow pine usually used for boardwalk decking before voting on funding for the next phase of work on the ’walk.

In a statement posted on the city’s website last week, Gillian responded, in essence; not while I’m mayor.

“At the last council meeting the idea of using tropical hardwood on our boardwalk resurfaced,” Gillian wrote. “I would like to take this opportunity to reconfirm the commitment I made to our community almost four years ago, that under my administration, the city will not pursue using tropical hardwoods on the Ocean City boardwalk.”

Two sections of the 2-and-a-half-mile walkway use tropical wood, at the north end and the south end. DeVlieger pointed out that the wood in those sections remains in excellent condition after decades, while the yellow pine needs to be replaced much more frequently.

“I think in the long run, it’s a much better buy,” DeVlieger said at the May 22 City Council meeting.

Hardwood, such as the ipe wood used most recently, is more expensive than yellow pine. According to Gillian, elected to another term last  month, the wood will not be considered.

“After several years of planning, research, and consideration of other materials, the city has developed and initiated a plan to rebuild our boardwalk,” states Gillian as part of his regular update to residents, posted late last week. 

The first section of a multi-year boardwalk improvement project was completed this year, and the city is beginning the process to start construction on the second section.  According to city officials, the new project is designed to last at least twice as long as past projects, using thicker 3-inch pine decking, stainless steel screws and using shorter spans on the substructure.

“Improvements such as these, along with regular maintenance, will make this section of the boardwalk improved over other areas, such as the section from 12th to 14th street, which has lasted over 10 years,” stated Gillian.  “Our plan will ensure a longer lasting, safer structure. 

“Under my administration, the City will continue forward with this fiscally responsible, common sense approach project that was planned, funded and agreed upon in the five year capital plan,” continued Gillian. “Most importantly, our boardwalk is safe and ready for the influx of residents and visitors to enjoy during what I expect to be one of the best summer seasons ever.”

Comments at oceancitygazette.com have been harshly critical of the proposal to revisit the use of tropical wood on the ’walk, although the Gazette has also received one letter to the editor praising DeVlieger for the proposal. 


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