Between The Lines

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The Dew Tour only got started yesterday, but many (including myself) are already wondering about next year. If history is any indication, at least as far as Maryland is concerned, there could be reason to be optimistic.

In 2007 and 2008, The Dew Tour was held in Baltimore’s Camden Yards Sports Complex, which reported hosting more than 55,000 people during the event each year and seeing an economic impact of approximately $10 million each year.

According to an article in the Baltimore Business Journal in March of 2009, the Tour decided to replace Baltimore with a stop in Chicago to further expand the event’s reach at that time. The Tour had nothing but nice things to say about the Baltimore experience. It was a simple matter of looking to broaden to other locales.

Although this surely personifies opining prematurely, since the event is just today kicking into high gear, it would seem realistic for Ocean City to aspire to host the event next year as well. Further beyond that is probably unlikely, but that’s not a given, of course.

With Friday and Saturday tickets sold out by midweek and Sunday’s finals sure to be sold out eventually, Ocean City is off to a good start in showing how welcome the Tour is here.

It’s reasonable to hope the Tour is thrilled with how it’s received in Ocean City and will at least come back for another year in 2012. Considering its goal of expanding the action sports’ reach, anything beyond that is wishful thinking at this point.

In the meantime, let’s take it all in this weekend, enjoy the spectacle of it all and relish the national attention Ocean City is getting as a result of it.

There was a lot of you know what and vinegar on display at last week’s public hearing on the proposed Bay Bridge toll hikes. It’s understandable as this is a volatile issue for many.

In case you haven’t heard, the state is planning in October to increase the $2.50 eastbound toll to $5 in October and then to $8 in 2013. Those rates are for motorists who are paying cash and not commuters or E-ZPass users. The cost for E-ZPass users would go from $2.50 to $4.50 to $7.20, and the commuter rate would rise from $1 to $1.50 to $2.80.

Delegate Norm Conway raised some eyebrows in the crowd when he told the Maryland Transportation Authority he thought most residents could stomach the 100-percent increase to $5 but urged moderation when it came to considering the further hike to $8.50 in two years. Conway didn’t win any fans with that comment, while Delegate Mike McDermott was a huge hit with his typical rage against the establishment mentality and belief the bridge is a “cash cow” for Maryland. Rather than Conway’s point, he said if the state was proposing to increase the toll by 50 cents, instead, there would likely be no disgruntled speakers even present at the public hearing.

Unfortunately, the source of most of the vitriol in the room last week was the result of most speakers understanding what they said would likely not sway the decision makers in attendance or those elsewhere. I hope my pessimism is wrong, but I think come October the new toll will be $5. I am mildly hopeful the state will reconsider bumping it up further to $8.50 in two years. Anything can happen between now and then.

Surely not along the lines of the issues in Salisbury, Berlin does have an issue with slumlords. That’s why it’s encouraging to see the town going after them or, more mildly, at least putting some teeth in its code allowing it to impose appropriate sanctions.

From what I see, the larger issue here, and officials realize this, is the vacant properties that are not maintained. On my street, there are at least two properties that have been vacant for at least the last five years and another one the last two years that are eyesores and embarrass many of us on the street.

While reviewing the rental properties, it’s worth taking a look at the vacant ones as well to make sure they are keeping up with the code because some of them appear to be on the verge of collapsing.

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