Ocean City housing agency reimburses city $1 million

Posted: May 23, 2014

OCEAN CITY, N.J. - The Ocean City Housing Authority has finally voted to reimburse the city nearly $1 million for fixing a public-housing development damaged by Sandy, and three members who objected immediately resigned.

The city had used money from its affordable-housing funds to renovate the 60 units of Pecks Beach Village flooded during the October 2012 storm and was able to return displaced residents by February 2013.

Mayor Jay Gillian has said he considered the preservation of the community - one of Ocean City's only affordable and racially mixed year-round housing areas - an urgent priority.

Gillian said the Housing Authority did not have the money to move quickly to repair the units, and so a shared-services concept was promoted. There remains some dispute over whether that was properly executed. The authority adopted the plan just before the reimbursement vote Tuesday evening.

The authority had received a $1.2 million settlement from its flood insurance policy, but Chairman Ed Price - a political rival of Gillian's - held off on reimbursing the city, maintaining that the city skirted HUD regulations in its rush to renovate Pecks Beach.

HUD officials stayed out of the dispute, refusing to meet with Price and other authority members, and saying that because the reimbursement was coming from insurance money, it was a matter between the authority and the city. It reviewed the shared-services agreement.

Price, who was defeated by Gillian in last week's mayoral election, said Wednesday he and two others on the authority still believed the renovation fell short on federal flood-elevation rules and standards for heat and hot-water appliances, and left the development vulnerable to future flooding and insurance hikes.

The vote Tuesday to reimburse the city was 4-3.

"The city skirted every rule, broke every rule, and wants to call it an emergency," Price said Wednesday. "Nothing was bid out. I couldn't sign the check, and I believe what was done was inappropriate."

Gillian could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

He has expressed frustration at the difficulty the city had in getting the federal agency to repay the municipality, a dispute that echoes homeowners' difficulties with their own Sandy repairs.


arosenberg@phillynews.com

609-823-0453

@amysrosenberg

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