Refreshing is the way I would describe the opportunity to interview Ocean City Police Department Chief Ross Buzzuro this week.
There was candor and bluntness there on current events that have not been present in that post previously. His “there’s nothing to hide” mentality is a welcome change, and that approach will surely turn out to be a benefit for the community as a whole. Buzzuro and the department are scratching the surface of an issue that has been plaguing the Boardwalk for years. Irresponsible landlords renting space to reckless business owners who seem intent on peddling wares inconsistent with a beach resort.
“Why does anyone need to sell knives on the Boardwalk? They are not Swiss Army knives by the way just for clarification. We have seen an uptick in weapons violations. Is that a causal type of phenomenon? We are looking at that,” the chief said. “Our effectiveness and success is predicated on a community relationship. It’s also the relationship of the merchants and the merchants policing themselves. It’s the lease owners as well who need to police themselves and talk with the leasees. They have to give us a helping hand. We need to clean up some things, quite honestly, as we move forward.”
While ridding the Boardwalk of these problem stores will be difficult, shining the light on these irresponsible businesses is a worthwhile effort, and it’s nice to see the department focusing on what has become a major issue.
It’s still not official and needs the state’s approval because it owns the beach, but the Mayor and Council’s decision this week to move ahead with plans to allow beach vehicle access for surf fishing went over like the proverbial lead balloon on social media.
While there was some mild support, dozens of residents, visitors and second-home property owners expressed outrage. Concerns ranged from maintaining beach cleanliness and ruining the quiet and empty beauty of the beach in the slow season to how people will enforce whether vehicles are truly surf fishing and ruining the view for oceanfront property owners.
The negative response surprised me, but I still think it’s worth a one-year pilot program. If problems occur and are common, it can always be abandoned after the first year or even during it.
At least one more Ocean City department head change is expected next year, continuing a recent trend of high-profile vacancies within the town. This time it’s Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster who has announced his intention to retire at some point in 2014 after celebrating 15 years with the town this month.
In a letter sent to the city manager, Mayor and Council and others, Shuster wrote, “Upon reflection and discussion with my family, I have decided to retire in 2014. I have not set a specific date at this time because I need to evaluate my pension options and allow sufficient time for succession planning for my position.”
Berlin imbibers looking for their favorite spirit will soon have to head outside of town to stock up. Owned by the county, the Berlin store is being consolidated with the larger store on Route 50.
What’s going to be interesting to observe over the coming months is whether State Senator Jim Mathias or Delegate Mike McDermott are approached to introduce legislation amending the liquor laws to include a private carryout license in Berlin. Currently, the law prevents a beer and wine store from adding liquor to its operation in Berlin.
The county made it clear it will oppose those efforts at the legislative level and presumably at the Board of License Commissioners level if the legislature approves the change. That’s not a surprise because it knows if an existing beer and wine store in Berlin adds liquor sales it will hurt the county’s operation.