Paid parking is a divisive issue in Ocean City. It always has been and probably will be whenever the topic is discussed because its impacts are widespread.
The latest confirmation comes with the Mayor and Council’s decision to add the Cale parking system to the south side of 146th Street, one of several new parts of town that will be metered this year that were not last year.
At this week’s meeting, the Mayor and Council showed the first sign of willing to compromise with the outraged property owners affected by the move on 146th Street. While the council did not change its mind, a dialogue was held that might lead to a consultant studying parking in Ocean City in general and the financial complexities that surround it.
We think this is a solid direction if the price is right for the study. It would obviously fly in the face of consistency if the Mayor and Council decided to fund an expensive study of parking in the resort when the whole concept behind the new paid parking areas was to raise new revenues to help balance the budget.
Working off the consideration the price will be modest for a parking and financial feasibility study, the hope here is it will encompass the entire resort area.
Although the reasoning behind the selected blocks for the new meters is justifiable in our view, the city is missing out on major revenue by not looking at the Boardwalk prime spots, those ocean block spots from 11th to 27th streets that are currently not paid parking. The Inlet to 10th Street on the ocean blocks are currently paid parking.
Although the $100,000 adding these spots would create was discussed briefly back in April, the Mayor and Council for some reason is hesitant. It does not make sense because adding meters to those streets, or at least the dozen or so eastern most spaces closest to the beach, will boost turnover rates and help the businesses in the area. It’s no secret some locals and visitors park in these prime places for days at a time so they can utilize their own parking spaces for guests.
The consensus of the current council does not seem to agree, but Councilman Dennis Dare broached the topic during a recent budget session.
“As we re-deck the Boardwalk and pay off that debt, and replenish the beach this coming year it seems to make sense to extend the paid parking for half a block of some of the most prime parking in Ocean City,” Dare said. “I just think we need to have our day tripper’ participate in beach replenishment, beach cleaning, lifeguarding, street paving and all the amenities we provide.”
Any evaluation and financial feasibility of parking in Ocean City should start with this area and question the reasoning behind why the city has not taken advantage of what seems to be an obvious move. Other resort areas charge for prime beachfront parking and it seems illogical for Ocean City to not address these areas, while picking and choosing other blocks of town that will reap far less revenue.