Voices From The Readers

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Hoping Trimper’s Rides Stays Around

Editor:

I guess I would call it a kind of hazy disbelief when pondering the specter that Trimper’s Rides could actually be closing, even partially, after a gazillion years. The kind of feeling I had just after the Colts left Baltimore.

Trimper’s Rides is a truly magical place filled with indelible memories for generations of Ocean City vacationers and locals. It is the kind of place where you can put your grandchildren on the exact same ride that your grandparents put you on as a kid and you were absolutely thrilled by the experience. I can vividly remember being on the Whip, laughing and carrying on with my cousin at every turn. Now I am just amazed that I ever fit into it and that’s part of the magic.

After all, what is the Boardwalk, the boards? Of course not. It’s the smell of the Thrashers French fries, the sound of calliope, the screams from the roller coaster, it’s the feeling of childlike euphoria that come from rekindling of childhood memories.

I’m not in the amusement business, but I am pretty sure selling an extra 3,752,952 blue tickets to pay your taxes is no easy task. I am also not a developer so the thought of buying Trimper’s property at the assessed value in today’s glutted market is even more mind boggling and might work against those family members ready to deal.

As a restaurateur, I know that it would be impossible to buy a piece of property at today’s assessed values, build a restaurant or many other businesses for that matter and expect to make a profit in a seasonal town. The numbers wouldn’t make sense. It seem the only way to make the numbers make sense is to build million dollar condos or hotels with $400 a night rooms. Because of the recent development boom, that is what the assessed fair market value is based on and the government wants their cut. But that is not fair to the small, established business man who has watched business decline while expenses, taxes and fees increase. How much more will the already exorbitant rents on the Boardwalk go up if the landlord’s taxes are raised in kind? How much more can the business community withstand before it doesn’t make sense to be in business anymore?

So what is the answer? I’m not really sure. I think historical status would be a no brainier. The Carousel alone, a 100-year-old, beautiful work of art probably next to impossible to reproduce today, secures it for me. I’m not really sure what the implications are with that designation. I would hope and ask the Trimper family to really take a long hard look at the legacy and responsibility they hold, search long and hard for the right answers, not just one that brings a quick buck. There are millions of future memories depending on your decision.

Gregory Foulos

Make It Affordable

Editor:

The Letters to the Editor section in the local Ocean City newspapers have become quite a tasty read throughout most of 2007, with a frequent topic being the high cost of visiting Ocean City.

Last week a story was written about a survey containing the same theme – people indicated that high costs were the number one reason for going somewhere else besides Ocean City.

I’ll be nice and say that the responses from the Tourism Commission were unbelievable. From the advertising agency representative Andy Malis: “This doesn’t necessarily mean we’re too expensive”. Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan was credited with saying something to the effect that people staying two to four days was a reflection of a change in vacation trends. The Tourism Commission apparently agreed that the value of Ocean City needs to be reinforced through advertising tourism.

Do these people really believe their own rhetoric? Did anyone on the Tourism Commission check out how empty Ocean City was this past July 4th week? And don’t try to tell me that it was because Independence Day was on a Wednesday this year. How about the lack of no vacancy signs? How about the empty drinking establishments on the Boardwalk?

To borrow a line from Back to the Future, “Hello!! McFly!!” Mr. Malis and Mr. Meehan and the rest of the Tourism Commission need to face the facts – many vacationers now only stay in Ocean City for two to four nights because that is all they can afford.

My wife, two kids and my mom spent an extra weekend in Ocean City this August, and we decided to eat out for the duration. Once again, we were reminded why we cook our own meals when vacationing in Ocean City. Our breakfast at the Dough Roller was over $60, with $12.50 of it being just for orange juice. Dinner at Buxy’s Salty Dog was close to $100. Dumser’s milkshakes, while being the best in the galaxy, are now over $4 each. The best meal by far was also by far the most inexpensive one – a $40 dinner (including tip) on the way home.

Other families are discovering that they can go somewhere else besides Ocean City for a week and easily save over $1,000.

Throwing more advertising dollars isn’t going to make more people come to Ocean City. Ocean City needs to be affordable again for the blue-collar people whose money built Ocean City.

Come on Tourism Commission – come up with some real solutions.

John Novak

Essex

Abused By System

Editor:

I feel used and abused, raped, mishandled, scorned by the beach town I love.

On Sunday, Oct. 7 about 7:20 p.m., I rolled into downtown OC to walk the dog and get a slice. I parked on Dorchester Street, put an hour on the meter and headed to my favorite pizza place.

I ate my slice and drank my drink, with about 10 minutes left I headed back to the Jeep. I did get held up by a few tourists and their children who wanted to pet the dog and ask useless questions, the dog and I politely endured.

To my chagrin and disbelief when I arrived at the vehicle, I had received a parking citation. With modern manual dexterity, I flipped my flip phone, verifying the time. It was 8:23 p.m. I looked over my left shoulder, I looked over my right, I could see no metermaid nor meter manservant, as the case might be.

In a state of total denial, I compared the citation to my meter receipt, which valid until 8:20 p.m. Citation issued at 8:21 p.m. They got me, Johnny Law got their man.

It is nice to know the letter of the law is being upheld, if not the spirit. I did pay for my parking spot, for the majority of the time I was there, But I was late for a date with that parking meter and I was punished.  It’s a good thing I was re-taught the lesson, no one is above the law.

The best part was, the next day, Columbus Day (my favorite holiday), I was running errands in town, I dropped by City Hall to pay the fine, closed, no biggee. I will go to police headquarters, closed.

The police station is closed? What?

On the back of the citation it says: Police Headquarters, 6501 Coastal Highway, 24 hours a day. Maybe they are out getting Donuts? Oh wait a second, there is a drop box for fines, it requires an envelope, the citation had no envelope. There are no envelopes at the drop box. Silly Me. Ignorance of knowing to bring an envelope is no excuse.

Well, now its Tuesday I am at work, I have not tried the 24-hour drop boxes at the Inlet, 2nd Street, City Hall, or the Internet Option. I don’t really feel like taking off to pay a $15 fine. But it says the fine goes up $10 in 48 hours. I wonder if that is at 8:20 or at 8:21 tonight. Either way I still have some time.

Matt E. Schwab

Berlin

High Cost Is Factor

Editor:

A recent survey of 2,000 persons visiting Ocean City found that their major concern was the high cost of their trip to Ocean City. This survey only covered people who visited Ocean City. It is quite possible the high cost of coming to Ocean City is also preventing other persons from even visiting Ocean City.

What did the Ocean City Council members do about this? Well, they voted to request Worcester County increase the room tax paid by visitors from 4 percent to 4.5 percent and use some of this additional money to pay for advertising the benefits of visiting Ocean City. To justify the increase, comparisons were made of other nearby beach resorts by pointing out that the competitors spend more money on advertising than Ocean City. For example, the supports of the tax increase said Virginia Beach spends about $8 million a year on advertising, a higher amount than the $1.7 million Ocean City spends. However, one must look at the underlying figures to determine if the advertising amount that Ocean City expends is really that low. When this is done it is found that Ocean City spends about 2.4% of its budget on advertising while Virginia Beach, with a year-round population of 437,206, spends only .83%, a much smaller amount of its $963 million budget.

So in summary, many visitors who already come to Ocean City say their trip is too expensive. The City Council’s solution to get these persons to return to Ocean City and to get new visitors to come to Ocean City is to increase the room rate tax these people pay when they come to Ocean City. Something is wrong with this logic.

Veronica Potter

Ocean City

A Parking Rip Off

Editor:

We live in Ocean Pines. Our friends come to visit and we have gone to Ocean City for Springfest and Sunfest for the past 10 years.

We usually park, at about 9:45 a.m. in the municipal parking lot. It was full this year so we went to a private parking lot located at the corner of Philadelphia Avenue and Wicomico Street.

We pulled in and the charge was $30 – a little high. After we parked, the male owner yelled to the young lady taking the parking fees, “Raise the next car to $40 and all the cars after that $50”. The passengers of the next car who had paid $40 made a comment to us, “We come all the way from Philadelphia for Sunfest” and they said, “Is this the way Ocean City treats its visitors?”

I do not think visitors or locals should be taken advantage in such a manner. Was it illegal? Probably not. But most certainly it was unethical, greedy and immoral.

Was the owner of the lot and probably of the restaurant in need of quick cash? What goes around comes around.

Joseph Stine

Ocean Pines

Mark The Calendars

Editor:

Two critically important public hearings are scheduled for the afternoon of Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 1:30 and 1:50 p.m.

The first involves the hotel room tax increase for expanding the tourism advertising budget. On the surface, this certainly sounds logical and harmless enough. However, trickling effects (to neighboring cities) are, quite possibly, audience rejection or oblivion to the county’s tourism-promoting efforts toward historical, cultural/arts and environmental attractions. The direct far-reaching effects include more of the same disappointing results for both vacationing and proprietary Ocean City consumers; namely: inferior-quality products and services at exorbitant prices; dirty, smelly and even unsanitary public restrooms, dining areas, bus stops, et al.; inadequate/unskilled, less-than-welcoming, often rude employees (albeit usually underpaid, unappreciated and untrained); disrespectful treatment and pollution of our town, its occupants, bays, highways and other county and state resources, through trash, noise, vandalism, excrements and other intimidating and malicious crime.

Pardon my pessimism, but, unless we correct these infrastructure problems and start collectively respecting ourselves, this can only – God forbid – worsen. I beg anyone who has a better idea to please either bring or send it to this first public hearing.

The second public hearing is to hear anyone’s input concerning a request to "Intensely Develop" ("IDA") a currently "Limited Development Area" ("LDA"), located in an officially-designated environmentally Critical Area. The proposed cluster subdivision is presently being identified as "Shipyard Alley". Once again, at first glance, this "measly three acres" seems insignificant. However, the intrusion on existing and even "proposed" infrastructures needs to be closely examined now, before the damage is done. We don’t even have acceptable solutions to our existing needs of: adequate emergency services; sanitary landfill, sewer and water; affordable and ecologically-sustaining energy utilities; roads and sidewalks, etc. How in the world can we squeeze even more consumption into this system? Please don’t naively think that this Snow Hill project doesn’t affect all of us, because it most definitely does.

Both hearings will be in Snow Hill at the Worcester County Commissioners’ meeting room.

Ellie Diegelmann

Ocean City

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