Address Downtown Issues
There are two issues I find to be of extreme importance that I would like to bring to the attention of others like me, who love and care about Ocean City.
A great deal of money has been spent in recent years to improve the downtown area. An improved downtown should mean more people on the Boardwalk, more renters staying in condominiums and more dollars filling up the tills in area establishments. The possibility exists for a very beneficial scenario, where by many different parties benefit from the improvements. However, in order to realize these gains, tourists to the island and residents alike must feel safe and secure to roam freely throughout the streets.
The presence of the underage clubs in downtown and the pitiful justice system in Worcester County invites more trouble and posts a greater threat than all the improvements in the world can do. On any given weekend night, the throngs of hoodlums waiting to enter the clubs, or just hanging out on the corner of Baltimore Avenue and Worcester Street chase thousands of dollars away from area businesses. The vast majority of these people are freely engaged in loitering, littering and looting, all while treating tourists and police officers alike with total disdain. The only money they spend legally is the entrance fee to the clubs. Meanwhile, I and other property owners are forced to pay ever-increasing taxes to have a police presence at the club – a presence which is necessary, but leaves tourists with the idea that downtown is a problem area in need of police. This is certainly not an image that the Town of Ocean City wishes to project, especially in these tough economic times.
To further exacerbate the problems in downtown, the police do their job and arrest those that break the law, only to have a judge put the violators right back on the street. The recent riot on the Boardwalk that resulted in nine arrests did not result in one of the perpetrators spending the night in jail. These malcontents went so far as to openly fight with the police and others that came to the aid of outnumbered officers. Can somebody please explain to me how someone as brazen and mad to engage in fisticuffs with the police should be free to return the next night to the Boardwalk to do it all over again?
I propose two simple solutions to protect the great Town of Ocean City. While possibly controversial, I hope that the powers that be seriously consider my ideas. They are:
1. Shut down these underage clubs, as they are nuisance that offer nothing of benefit to the residents or tourists of the island. Their closure would free the police to spread the patrolling elsewhere and would make tourists feel that it was a safe and secure area in which to rent and roam again.
2. Develop some innovative penalties for those who have been found guilty of committing crimes in Ocean City. I propose that if convicted of a crime in Ocean City that you should be banned for a period of time from entering the island. The more serious the crime, the longer the privilege of visiting the island should be revoked.
Let’s please do what we can to see that downtown Ocean City lives up to its great potential. We should welcome all who wish to visit and enjoy all we have to offer, while behaving themselves. For those, who wish to act in a destructive manner, I suggest that they do so in their own neighborhoods and let their local law enforcement officials deal with them.
M. Scott Chismar
Lake View, N.Y.