With the election a distant memory and Mayor and Council members appearing to at least want to play nice together, the focus turns to the money in Ocean City.
As City Manager David Recor has reported in recent weeks, much focus in the city’s strategic planning initiative process has been put on identifying new and realistic revenue sources. In individual interviews, members of the Mayor and Council have reportedly placed the concept of finding new ways to bring in money as a priority.
Consequently, I think parking is going to be a target and will likely be used as a means to bridge what’s expected to be a growing gap between expenditures and revenues in the coming years as property values decline and the belief the city will have to give employees a raise of some sort in the next budget.
Between now and next summer, the Mayor and Council will be having some serious discussions regarding adding more paid parking areas to the town. Additionally, it’s suspected there will be plans presented to increase the parking rates in some areas, such as the Inlet parking lot.
First and foremost, I expect the city to begin charging for parking at the Public Safety Building lot. This is done elsewhere, and it will likely result in a nice new revenue stream for the city. Another idea is adding the Cale parking system, which replaced the old tin soldier meters years ago, to the convention center. That has not been discussed officially, but I suspect it’s going to be considered as many convention center facilities in cities charge for parking by offering convenient garages, which are only accessible for a fee. With both the Public Safety Building and the convention center, there are logistics that will need to be worked out, but these will likely surface during next spring’s budget talks.
The biggest hot potato when it comes to increasing paid parking in Ocean City sits at the north end of town along the oceanfront blocks. This has been a political firecracker in recent years with the council placing the matter on the back burner at least twice after property owners in the area cried foul. I think this will eventually happen on some level, even if it’s just for the northern most blocks that are often utilized by Delaware beach-goers.
Ocean City will be taking on more of a Fort Pierce, Fla. look in January, as the town has hired one of City Manager David Recor’s former colleagues as its next planning department leader.
Matthew Margotta has been the planning director for the coastal Florida town since 2006 and worked under Recor when he was city manager of the same town. Margotta replaces Jesse Houston, who retired in September after 30 years with the city, and edge out two internal city veterans for the job.
It’s been talked about so long in Ocean City that it’s hard to believe work on a new public boat ramp is about to begin.
For the last 20 years, rampant complaints have been heard regarding the public boat ramp in the Little Salisbury residential community. The concerns were understandable, as motorists looking to launch their boats would wreak havoc on the neighborhood during the summer months. Traffic congestion was a perennial worry, but most of all was the lack of consideration from some of the boat ramp users. At one point, the situation was so bad residents constructed fences to keep people from using the bathroom on their properties. Those sorts of antics led the city to enforce some new measures, but the problems persisted.
By next summer, Ocean City should have its new ramp in place on 64th Street, as engineering and design services were awarded this week to the tune of $66,400. The property was once home to the Slide ‘n Ride and was purchased by the city a few years ago.