The OC Community Center will feature a new outdoor space
By MADDY VITALE
A newly renovated area outside the Ocean City Community Center will soon offer people a way to enjoy the outdoors while participating in their favorite programs and classes, courtesy of the city in partnership with the Ocean Free Public Library. City.
A shaded structure on the 18th Street side of the center, with a canopy, plush rubber flooring and benches, will provide members of the center’s various facilities with an outdoor option.
“Post-COVID is a new era. People want to be outdoors more than ever,” said Daniel Kelchner, director of community services for Ocean City. “Yoga and all the other programs and classes in town could be done here. It will be a great use of space in an underutilized area.
Like the city, the library team was looking for a place to do more outdoor programming.
The library set up a tent last summer, but it was on the paved area of the parking lot and it was not a permanent structure.
OCFPL Director Karen Mahar expressed interest in a permanent space and spoke with Kelchner about it.
She said her team was thrilled.
“The library is very pleased to use the space outside the community center for all-ages programming and special events,” said OCFPL Director Karen Mahar. “We are so happy to partner with the city and together be able to offer a variety of programs in this outdoor area for our community.”
The new outdoor space will be completed in the coming weeks. Kelchner said benches and storage will be installed and the area will also have Wi-Fi.
The area could be used not only for library and city programming, but also for all other center facilities.
Kelchner noted that the Ocean City Historical Museum could use it for its summer camps as well as the art center.
There are other city-funded shaded structures for the 15th Street and 52nd Street playgrounds and the OC Skatepark, located at 550 Asbury Ave.
The public can reserve the outdoor space like any other City facility by completing the “Installation Request” form on the City’s website at ocnj.us. You can find the form on the website by hovering over the “I want” tab at the top left. Then you scroll down to the “Ask” links and click on using a municipal facility.
Kelchner said the area could be used by anyone who wants to without filling out the form, as long as it’s not being used for programming at that particular time.
The library even has a space dedicated to a quieter space, Mahar calls it, the “corner”.
“The whole area is for everyone, but exercise will likely be in the larger structure and educational programs, while reading and other quieter activities could be done in the nook,” Kelchner pointed out.
Kelchner said during the COVID-19 pandemic, city leaders have talked about several possible areas. At the time, the city’s exercise classes were held outdoors on the tennis courts near the community center.
As for the center area that was chosen, Kelchner said, it made sense.
“This whole area was a lot of things,” he said as he walked around the structure. “There was a playground. There were picnic tables. It had a variety of uses, but nothing really useful.
At the same time, the library was looking for a permanent structure for outdoor use.
Kelchner said after discussion with other city officials, it was determined that the area on the 18th Street side of the community center would be a good location for outdoor programs and activities.
“The mayor and the administration said it made sense and we should move on,” he said.
The city council passed a resolution on May 27 of the year to fund materials for the project for a total of $35,000. Supply chain issues delayed construction of the shaded structure until recently.
After a long wait, the area is only a few weeks away from being completed.
“I’m excited about it,” Kelchner said. “I think we will all benefit a lot from this.”