Proposal Launches Dialogue On Fencing Parking Lots

OCEAN CITY – Superintendent of Public Works Maintenance
Bruce Gibbs gave a presentation to the Mayor and City Council Tuesday
concerning a fencing project that would add white, vinyl picket fences to the municipal
parking lots downtown.

Gibbs reported that the project is doable but did have a
few concerns regarding the idea.

“For one, you would be limiting foot traffic,” he said.
“For now they can park their cars and walk where they want to walk. We put the
fence up and they won’t be able to do that, they’ll have to go to the
designated walking area.”

This could lead to people trying to jump the fence at
certain areas if there is a location they are trying to get closer to where
they parked, he said.

Gibbs also mentioned his concerns with vandalism, graffiti
and the unattractiveness of losing pickets.

Instead of taking a chance with placing fencing around all
the lots, Council Secretary Nancy Howard suggested the city do one lot as a
type of pilot program to see how it fares.

City Manager Dennis Dare liked the idea and offered the
idea of only fencing part of the lot, with landscaping encompassing the rest to
prevent people from jumping the fence.

Glenn Irwin, executive director of the Ocean City
Development Corporation, said he did not like the idea of too much landscaping
since it would get trampled on, but did suggest that one of the more trafficked
lots, such as the lot at Somerset Street or Dorchester Street, be the one
chosen for the pilot.

Councilman Jim Hall then made a motion to go ahead with
the project on the Somerset Street lot.

“My gut is that it’s not a good idea because if you go
down Coastal Highway, any plastic fence that’s next to the sidewalk is torn
up,” he said.

Hall also expressed his concerns about losing pickets,
something that can become costly since they can’t be individually replaced, the
whole section of fence must be replaced instead. As for worries of people
jumping the fence, Hall said spaces in the fencing would allow for walkthroughs.

Councilman Lloyd Martin seconded Hall’s motion and agreed
that the gaps would be a good way to control foot traffic.

“As somebody who turns a corner and looks at a vinyl fence
on Coastal Highway that’s missing more and more pickets everyday until finally
they took it down, I’m going to have to vote against this project,” Council
President Joe Mitrecic said. “I don’t think it’s the right thing. I think we’re
going to open ourselves up to a lot of white pickets being thrown around
downtown.”

The
council approved the project with a 5-2 vote, with Mitrecic and Pillas in
opposition. 

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