OCEAN CITY — The City Council shot down two new ideas last Monday aimed at furthering efforts in cleaning up Ocean City’s beaches, arguing the ideas could have the reverse effect.
The local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has been credited over the past five years as coming up with and executing one of the best slogans for keeping the local beaches clean with the now infamous “Please Leave Only Your Footprints” campaign.
The campaign had humble beginnings as it was created in the middle of a surfing lineup five years ago, but the execution of the “footprints” campaign has made it one of the most well known slogans around.
Yet, when Surfrider Foundation member Terry Steiner, a city Public Works employee, came before the Mayor and City Council last week to pitch two possible ideas to keep the beaches clean, the voting seven were a bit apprehensive to get on board.
In a nutshell, Steiner proposed to conduct an experiment of sorts, aimed at the areas of 144th to 146th streets, in which the town would remove the trash bins that were on the beach and only offer trash bins at the beach access points at the head of the streets. He said the experiment would be called the ‘environmental friendly beaches’.
“If you look at Assateague Island, there are no trash bins on the beach, and the beaches are pretty doggone close to pristine over there,” said Steiner. “If you take away the option of being able to just throw stuff away on the beach, I think that the people will take with them whatever they bring onto the beach and dispose of their trash in at access points like they do at Assateague.”
Councilman Jim Hall was not convinced that it was an idea that could ever work in the resort.
“I think it’s great in theory to think that everyone would conform and do it this way, but I don’t think it’s going to happen,” said Hall. “My gut is telling me to leave the cans on the beach, especially since you have so much food up there. Taking cans off would be a mistake, and people will just stick their trash behind the fence in the dunes, or bury it in the sand.”
Councilman Joe Hall argued it was an experiment that could be easily undertaken, and remedied if found to be a failure, and at one point even called out for a raise of hands in the audience to see if they would comply with such an experiment.
“If it doesn’t work and there seems to be trash on the beach, how hard is it to just put the trash cans back up there,” queried Joe Hall.
The council seemed to agree that even if the experiment was a success in the most northern points of the resort, the chance that expanding the scope of the experiment would be essentially futile the further south it would go.
“There’s no way that we would be able to do that city wide, so I don’t see the point to be honest with you,” said Council President Joe Mitrecic.
Steiner’s second idea was to place a small sticker on the cigarette butt receptacles that are sporadically placed in front of Boardwalk businesses that simply states “Hold Onto Your Butt: Beaches are not an Ashtray.”
Councilman Jim Hall took umbrage with the message and the sticker and essentially told Steiner to take the idea back to the drawing board.
“I think we can do better than this Terry,” said Hall. “I absolutely loved the ‘leave only your footprints’ campaign, but I think we can tell people to dispose of their cigarette butts in the container a better way. I’d like to see you have the kids at Stephen Decatur to come up with a more creative thing and a better message than ‘hold onto your butt’.”