Wooden Surface Worth The Extra Bucks

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At a time when every dollar still needs to be monitored carefully in the private and public sector, we understand why detractors oppose spending the extra money it will take to continue using wood on the Boardwalk’s surface.

Funds need to be protected these days and money shouldn’t be unnecessarily spent or foolishly used in another fashion. However, the surface of the Boardwalk in Ocean City is another matter altogether. This is about tradition and living up to an image millions have of nights spent on the Boardwalk, tip-toe sessions across it in the blazing summer sun and pizza and burger lunches on it.

During this week’s meeting, City Engineer Terry McGean expressed a fairly unique look on the Boardwalk’s surface, saying 50 percent of voters supported the wooden option in an online poll and 50 percent backed the concrete surface of some sort. He’s not exactly wrong here, but it seems to diminish what people were actually casting their votes for in the poll.

In fact, 51 percent (9,774 voters) supported the all-wood surface option; 34 percent (6,571 voters) went with the boards with a stamped concrete train lane; and 15 percent (2,962) opted for the boards with a plain concrete train lane.

In the end, the City Council voted 5-2 to go with the all-wood surface and that will basically result in the resort having to spend $2 million more than the option proposing boards with a stamped concrete lane. That’s a tremendous amount more and could inch higher for unexpected maintenance if a storm does tremendous damage.

Nonetheless, this is money well spent. The Boardwalk needs to have a wooden surface. In this case, it’s all about appearance and perception. It’s that simple.

When the southern portion of the Boardwalk was concrete for a stretch of years, it was not the same. It didn’t appear aesthetically as nice as the wooden portion, and it showed age and filth in a more obvious fashion than its wooden counterpart.

This week’s council vote coincides with an interesting release of the Travelers’ Choice awards for 2011. According to TripAdvisor, Ocean City ranks eighth on a list of ‘Top 10 Amusement Parks & Boardwalks in the United States”. The full list, from top to bottom, includes Anahaim, Calif.; Wisconsin Dells, Wis.; Wildwood Crest, N.J.; Orlando, Fla.; Sandusky, Ohio; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Hershey, Pa.; Ocean City, Md.; Carlsbad, Calif.; and Panama City Beach, Fla.

In various reviews of Ocean City, some unfavorable but most positive, many talk about the Boardwalk and how its traditional appeal is among the top reasons to visit here, along with the beach. Echoed by some folks in their comments, we agree the wooden surface is one of the reasons it’s called a special place.

Ocean City would be foolish to mess with success and the perception many have of our Boardwalk. Spending the extra money to present the “board” surface is wise.

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