While it may not seem like a major issue to some, the Town of Ocean City needs to make sure it replaces the wooden “beach toys” because there is a documented passion for them.
At a meeting this week, the Mayor and Council learned about the drawbacks of the wooden toys that are fabricated for little ones to enjoy and feature slides, poles, benches, ropes and ladders in the shape of trucks and boats, for example.
Intended for residential use initially, the wooden playhouses have apparently become a safety concern due to their age as well as heavy maintenance demand. Additionally, unsavory incidents, ranging from underage drinking and drug use to sex and bathroom uses, have been reportedly taking place at night and in the wee hours during the summer months.
The Mayor and Council decided this week to not utilize the beach toys this summer and instead to explore alternatives. A quick web search reveals there are plenty of options in the commercial marketplace for the city to purchase their replacements.
What’s unknown is who will pay for these new additions. Previously, the wooden playhouses were purchased by local businesses and essentially donated to the city for use on the beach under the agreement it would be the city’s responsibility to maintain them and ensure safety.
What the city surely needs to avoid here is not having anything on the beach this summer to replace what appear to be popular beach and Boardwalk attractions for local residents and visitors. Nearly 100 comments were received on this paper’s Facebook page within an hour after the story was posted reporting the wooden toys’ days were numbered.
The majority of respondents seemed to indicate how they and their kids would miss this free amenity, but they were relieved to learn the city was exploring alternative play sets for the future.
It’s our hope the city is planning to have some play sets in place by the summer season, and a plan worthy of consideration would be for the city to buy at least as many as the five that were present previously, and then later approach businesses that might be interested in helping offset the initial cost.
One important matter the city should also consider during the purchase process is trying to avoid the “hideout” mentality that has persisted over the years. The former wooden toys allowed for people up to no good to be out of sight from Boardwalk-goers and law enforcement. That’s a major reason why they have been removed.
The only wrong move here would be to do nothing and not replace them for the coming season. The prudent course here would be to quickly explore all options and bring them back to the Mayor and Council in the near future for a quick resolution.