City Council Bashing Over Paid Parking Expansion Continues

OCEAN CITY – Disgruntled property owners that will be impacted by the addition of paid parking on 146th Street continued at this week’s meeting to try and convince Ocean City’s elected officials it was the wrong move.

For the past few weeks, Ocean Place Condominium owners on 146th Street have gone to great lengths to persuade the Mayor and City Council to reverse their decision in installing paid parking on the street with no such luck yet.

During a budget wrap-up session on April 19, the Mayor and City Council voted to install paid parking on 146th Street from Coastal Highway to the beach; 49th Street from Coastal Highway to the beach; 131st Street from Coastal Highway to Sinepuxent Ave.; and on the west side of Philadelphia Avenue from South 1st to North Division streets. The council made the moves to bring in alternative revenues to help close a budget gap and lower the proposed property tax rate.

Installing paid parking on 146th Street was approved because the street abuts the Maryland-Delaware line where half the street currently has paid parking operated by Fenwick Island and the other side remains free in Ocean City. The town has found Fenwick Island residents and visitors taking advantage of filling the free side of the street first and walking to spend time in Fenwick.

Ocean Place Association Board of Directors President Ron Deacon came before the council to list the association’s grievances.
“All 100 owners are opposed to this policy because we would be dramatically affected by this. Since 1983, we have had parking available to us on 146th St. and now all of a sudden we do not,” Deacon said. “I believe you made your decision based on the best information you had available … it is very important that you know though that information given to you was incorrect.”

Deacon stated Ocean Place condo owners believe they are being discriminated against.

“We all pay taxes but we will be paying more, it may not be called a tax but it is a fee, a parking fee,” he said. “If you did this all over Ocean City, everybody would be paying it but you didn’t, you just picked us.”

Ocean Place is allotted one to two parking lot spaces per condo depending on the amount of bedrooms. Owners argue the amount of deeded spaces is not enough when it comes to having visitors. According to Deacon, during the summer months the Ocean Place parking lot is 80 to 90 percent full and pointed out at the rate of $1.50 an hour condo owners and/or their visitors will be paying at least $20 a day to park on the street.

In making the decision to install paid parking on 146th Street, the Mayor and City Council took into consideration observations that most of the license plates on vehicles parked on the street are “day trippers” taking advantage of the free parking in north Ocean City.

“We do not require our owners to be Maryland residents,” Deacon said. “Thus one cannot assume that parked cars are day trippers from out of state. Some are Ocean Place owners or relatives perhaps from another state.”

Deacon concluded Ocean Place does not appreciate the city making such a decision without the condo owners being notified beforehand.

“We could have sat down, not in the few minutes we have in a council meeting, but if we could just sit and talk through this thing I think it would have been a lot better,” he said. “There have been many statements that you don’t want to harm residents of Ocean City, and your paid parking policies is to make revenue not to harm residents … I just wanted you not to forget that we are residents even though we don’t live on the bayside.”

Econo Lodge Oceanblock General Manager Austin Purnell spoke in opposition of paid parking on 146th Street as well as the other streets chosen.

“I feel it is counterintuitive to our tourism industry,” Purnell said. “It is already expensive enough to vacation here in Ocean City.”

Purnell furthered the hotel directs its guests to park on 146th Street when they come to stay with more than one car as their parking lot allows for one space per room.

“I feel you are passing the problem onto the consumer,” he said. “I understand there is a need for additional revenue streams for a certain financial situation but I feel this however is an odd place to look for it.”

Ocean Place condo owner Michael Feen agreed with Deacon’s argument but added there are other ocean side streets that would bring in more revenue for the city versus 146th Street, such as 142nd Street, that has two lanes, an ingress and egress, and 70 spaces compared to 40 spaces on 146th Street.

“That is a 75 percent increase in the number of parking spaces. If the big issue is revenue … then we are missing out on 75 percent here,” Feen said. “If it was done in an open and fair process … and that is the way you came down on it, well then I might not like it but at least I would accept it because it was done openly and fairly.”

Councilman Joe Mitrecic asserted 142nd Street was not chosen as it has residences on both sides of the street as many other ocean side streets do along Ocean City.

“The streets that were picked, 49th Street abuts the Ocean Pines community parking for the beach, 131st Street has businesses on both sides of it, 146th abuts the state line, so really why that was picked … and any other street in town was not picked because they are residential on both sides of the street,” he said.

Mayor Rick Meehan also took the time to point out all council meetings and agendas are posted and allows for a fair process as there is time made in all meetings for citizen comments.

“Ocean Place takes up the whole block [between 145th and 146th streets] so if you go to 145th Street there are 62 parking spaces on that street that abut the Ocean Place property, so I think that was taken into consideration that there are 62 spaces that are there that wouldn’t be paid parking,” Meehan said.

A voice that has not been heard yet was from Crab Bag owner Nolen Graves, whose restaurant is located on 131st Street that was also chosen to have paid parking installed.

“I was told that this is going to benefit my business by encouraging turnover,” he said. “I don’t want my people to leave my restaurant to encourage turnover. When they are done, then they will leave.”

Graves argued if the town is making decisions to implement new paid parking based on benefiting businesses, officials should look to starting with Ocean City’s own businesses, such as the Roland E. Powell Convention Center.

“There is no other city I know of where you get free parking when you go to events,” he said. “I heard you’re afraid that it would hurt the convention center business, but then I’m told that is going to help mine but you don’t want them there because it will hurt yours.”

Graves is worried this year’s expansion is only the beginning of more paid parking being added throughout town.

“Call it what it is. It is a tax. If you call it a tax, it is not going to be popular but once those parking meters get installed, they are never coming out,” he said. “A couple years down the road when the assessments

go the other way things going to turn around again … until then you want the parking meters to make up the short fall … what is sounds like is the decision has been made, these meters are going in whether we like it or not, and we are going to have to get used to it.”

Graves concluded he is concerned about the backlash he will receive when parking for Crab Bag overflows into the residential community of Montego Bay that is only a few footsteps away from the restaurant.

“I just don’t appreciate the way it was handled,” he said.


9 comments on “City Council Bashing Over Paid Parking Expansion Continues

  1. I agree with Slim & Citizen OC. Meehan & his (5) council are not thinking about OC’s future and only thinking about todays financial problem which they contributed to by promising 2 raises per year to union employees. One raise would have been sufficient. Committing city funds for salaries and continuing to cut services and then adding paid parking to cover the costs is not a smart business decision. I also agree with Mr. Graves-people will search out free parking. Watch out residents, you are going to feel it next. Stand up and contact the council, this might be your last chance. Once parking meters go up-they will NEVER go away.

  2. We should not forget that the source for new revenue comes from the (new) Town Manager. The Council and Mayor simply simply review & vote on the proposed budget. What has come out though is the lack of diligence by the Council in supporting increased paid parking (particularly the locations). One Councilman was quoted by the press that 146th St should be one of the locations because the Town of Fenwick charges to park across the street. There are signs there every 20 feet declaring that it is Delaware State Park property (not the Town). I realize that that Councilman would have had to cross the State line to read the signs. If 146th St is made paid parking, where do these people think the “day trippers” will go? How about 145th St, then 144th, then 143….

  3. Looks like the wrong people are in office now? Maybe the Halls were not so bad after all. This money grubbing bunch on the commission now is out to fill their own pockets. The mentality of the OWE’Mally tax, tax, tax.

  4. I’m sure most of us side with the property owners. It was a deceitful move conducted in a covert manner by Meehan and his council and it needs to be reversed.

    As far as Meehan nobly pointing out to all uf us that “all council meetings and agendas are posted and allows for a fair process as there is time made in all meetings for citizen comments”, what a bunch of rhetorical nonsense that underestimates and insults our intelligence. I have a strong feeling that Meehan and his council knew exactly how they would decide regarding the matter several days (if not weeks) before the meeting started and that citizens’ comments would not have influenced their decision in any way whatsoever.

    If Meehan is truly being sincere about caring what citizens have to say, he should listen carefully right now and reverse the decision asap.

  5. The past is exactly what it is..IN THE PAST. Our City is better now leaning forward. Years and years of challenges will not be solved immediately. We voted for something different and if it doesn’t pan out, then we vote again in the future.

    ~BUSHMAN!~

  6. As I look around, I see in particular the Transportation Department which, by design, loses money (but not as much as other transportation departments). Their problem is more assets to maintain (fund), continued decrease in service, continued giveaway of free readership and a top heavy management staff. I mean, if you have fewer buses running for a shorter period of time, why does OC Transportation need so many full time managers? They have an ADA service which is nearly a free taxi service. Why is it so cheap? On top of that, they just got a bunch of new vehicles for managers to drive that mostly sit for 9 months of the year. OC needs to learn how to unload assets that they previously got for “free” but are milking them if support costs (like the Mobile Command Center).

    A 9 year old kid can figure out how to implement paid parking to balance the budget. Why haven’t we seen any creative ideas from the new (more expensive) Town Manager? The Town needs to change the way it manages and provides services. The good times are gone.

  7. Bushman – Yes, the past is the past but No, the city is not leaning forward as you state. It is steadily falling backwards.

    Numerous bad mistakes and unwise decisions were made in the past and the history of bad mistakes and unwise decisions made has been continually repeating itself and this unhealthy practice needs to cease asap.

  8. Hmmm, maybe this old timer has missed the point. We (OC) voted for a new direction a mere 6 months ago and now we are questioning that maybe the past was better than the present/future; backwards instead of forwards; grants are ok, but where’s the operating/maintenance to cover mentioned Mobile Command Center; and where is mine ~ and if you don’t give me mine I’m going to complain until someone hears/gives it to me.

    I’m hopeful OC stays the new course. OC has an experienced Town Manager (hired by the past – regardless of the pre-early phone call) who not only manages day-to-day OC operations, but continues developing a strategic plan for our “future”. Key word is the “future” of OC, since the past didn’t include a well thought out “future” plan. A strategic plan was 1 step. There are many many more steps needed to revitalize the resources, welfare and mindset of our city. Steps that cannot be accomplished in a mere 6 months. I too think the northern OC parking challenge is a bit outlandish. Frank summed it up saying day trippers will find the next street down. I throw in or an empty mall to park (we know exactly to where I speak). I’d think some of us do the same during July 4th when friends/family are visiting ~ find the free spots!

    Its going to take time to get the train back on the correct track, since it took a long LONG time to derail the train. Outlandish ideas today, may pan out or go by the wayside in the future. Retreating/going back to the past is not an option anyone wants. Tough decisions need to be made since you never can please everyone.

    This weeks weather looks great, the old cars are coming, hopefully it will be a safe/enjoyable weekend! Remember, earplugs are available at your local pharmacy’s/grocers and big box department stores!

    ~BUSHMAN!~

  9. Hmmm, maybe this old timer has missed the point. We (OC) voted for a new direction a mere 6 months ago and now we are questioning that maybe the past was better than the present/future; backwards instead of forwards; grants are ok, but where’s the operating/maintenance to cover mentioned Mobile Command Center; and where is mine ~ and if you don’t give me mine I’m going to complain until someone hears/gives it to me.

    I’m hopeful OC stays the new course. OC has an experienced Town Manager (hired by the past – regardless of the pre-early phone call) who not only manages day-to-day OC operations, but continues developing a strategic plan for our “future”. Key word is the “future” of OC, since the past didn’t include a well thought out “future” plan. A strategic plan was 1 step. There are many many more steps needed to revitalize the resources, welfare and mindset of our city. Steps that cannot be accomplished in a mere 6 months. I too think the northern OC parking challenge is a bit outlandish. Frank summed it up saying day trippers will find the next street down. I throw in or an empty mall to park (we know exactly to where I speak). I’d think some of us do the same during July 4th when friends/family are visiting ~ find the free spots!

    Its going to take time to get the train back on the correct track, since it took a long LONG time to derail the train. Outlandish ideas today, may pan out or go by the wayside in the future. Retreating/going back to the past is not an option anyone wants. Tough decisions need to be made since you never can please everyone.

    This weeks weather looks great, the old cars are coming, hopefully it will be a safe/enjoyable weekend! Remember, earplugs are available at your local pharmacy’s/grocers and big box department stores!

    ~BUSHMAN!~

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