ATLANTIC CITY – Ørsted North America representatives tried to reassure residents that a proposed operations and maintenance facility will not drastically change the quiet, residential character of Bungalow Park at a meeting Thursday night at City Hall.
The facility, proposed for the waterfront at the ends of North New Jersey and North Delaware avenues, is mainly for technicians to hop on large vessels that will take them 15 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean to work on constructing and maintaining two offshore wind farms, said Ørsted Civil Engineering Manager Joe Rudd.
“This won’t be a major manufacturing facility or a major source of emissions,” Rudd said. “It won’t have noise or other detrimental impacts.”
Junetta Dix of ACT Engineers, contracted to help with the project, also said a public park will be created on part of the site’s waterfront, with paths and a pavilion.
But residents said broken promises from other developers in the past made them skeptical.
“When Revel was here they made all these promises … of help with flooding,” former president of the Bungalow Park Civic Association Audra Williams said of the former casino company. “None of that has been done.”
To help residents better understand what is happening with the project, the company agreed to begin communicating regularly with all residents of the neighborhood. Previously only those who live within about 200 feet of the property had been receiving information as required by law.
Ørsted is seeking state and local permission to build a 16,000-square-foot building on almost 5 acres of a former oil company site. About half of the building would hold office and technician space, and half would be a warehouse.
Residents, however, said the streets are too narrow and traffic is already a problem, even before Ørsted adds up to 100 jobs at the facility.
Ørsted representatives told a crowd of about 40 residents at the meeting that not all employees will be on site at the same time.
Dix said her company will do a detailed traffic impact study looking at all intersections in the area and recommending the best way to handle any traffic impact from the facility.
“Construction (at the property) will be during normal daytime operations,” Rudd said, following all construction and noise codes.
Construction will run from later this year through early 2024. New bulkheads and berthing facilities will be built, a channel dredged, an existing concrete building demolished and a new raised building will be constructed on pilings to meet elevation requirements.
The second phase of wind farm construction will see slightly more activity, with workers coming to the site in the early morning and early evening to hop on boats to begin 12-hour shifts seven days a week.
There will be very little activity at the site itself, company representatives said.
Commercial operation of the wind farms is expected by late 2028 or early 2029, Rudd said.
Once the wind farms are operational, the maintenance facility will be used seven days a week, but only for one shift of workers per day unless there is an emergency, Rudd said.
Rudd estimated there will be fewer than 10 trucks a day accessing the site during the operational phase, most of them box trucks and just a few tractor trailers.
Serious precautions will be taken against spills while refueling the 100-foot boats used to transport workers and small equipment.
“The trucks have spill kits around them while unloading,” Rudd said. “If a spill is detected it shuts off the flow and we call in a special hazmat handling team to properly dispose of the material.”
Residents asked whether the company could build elsewhere, but company representatives said they needed deep water with direct access to the Atlantic, and there simply aren’t other sites available to them in Atlantic City.
“Ørsted looked far and wide for a potential piece of property,” Dix said. “This was historically a marine industrial site. If not developed (by Ørsted) someone could build over 100 townhouses there.”
Some members of the audience responded with “I’d rather have the houses.”
“I was a little kid when the whole waterfront almost was marine commercial,” said Frank Becktel, of Massachusetts Avenue, a third-generation Bungalow Park resident. “There were fuel docks, boat yards, commercial fishing and your site.”
He said other proposed developments in the area were feared, such as a bar that now operates on the water, and now people from the neighborhood are regulars there.
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