ATLANTIC CITY — Construction on a park surrounding Absecon Lighthouse is expected to begin next month.

The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority on Tuesday awarded a $518,705 contract to Command Company Inc., of Egg Harbor City, for construction. The park could be completed as early as this summer, but no later than the fall, officials said.

The park will stretch from Absecon Lighthouse toward the inlet. The fenced-in area will include sidewalks and a circular design of trees and other shrubbery, said Tom Meehan, CRDA’s director of project implementation and management.

The CRDA began acquiring land for the project in 2012. CRDA owned 10 of the 35 lots affected and acquired the other 25 from private owners. Plans, however, were temporarily stalled due to difficulties with the bidding process. The agency attempted to solicit bids several months ago with no luck, CRDA Executive Director John Palmieri said.

A bidding process that began in December solicited three responses, with the Egg Harbor City company coming in as the lowest responsible bidder. The contract awarded Tuesday allows a contingency budget of as much as $622,546.

For years, the CRDA has discussed plans for revitalizing the city’s South Inlet neighborhood in much the same way that the city’s North Inlet was transformed years earlier, adding new housing and businesses.

Plans for the South Inlet have focused on revitalizing the area surrounding the newly built Revel Casino Hotel. The CRDA planned for a Lighthouse District Park as well as a mixed-use project that would add new housing and retailers closer toward Revel. That project, however, would displaced dozens of residents living in the Vermont and Metropolitan low-rises.

The authority began the acquisition process last year but stalled as a group of residents have sued the CRDA in Atlantic County Superior Court challenging the authority’s rights to use the eminent domain process to acquire the land.

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Worked as a reporter for various weekly newspapers in Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties before joining The Press many moons (and editors) ago as a business copy editor. Passionate about journalism, averse to serial commas.