Petition Off Base
I would like to warn the residents of Ocean City about a selfish and destructive Anti-Ocean City petition that you will be asked to sign. Do not sign it.
The petition was created by a gentleman who does not live in Ocean City. In fact, he’s a resident of Virginia. I’m sorry for this misguided individual who I’m sure has good intentions but certainly doesn’t realize that his petition to stop construction of Phase II of the Convention Center will cost taxpayers millions of dollars. The Phase II renovation was carefully designed to be financed with state funds and through an existing Convention Center Maintenance fund (.5% food and beverage tax) so that the project would not cost local taxpayers a dime. If Tony Christ gets enough signatures on his petition, to stop construction, he will jeopardize the state funding that is in place and taxpayers will go from paying no tax for this project, to paying millions more after a delay. If you don’t want higher taxes, do not sign the petition.
I have lived in Ocean City for over 35 years. My husband and I have experienced a wonderful quality of life raising our three daughters here in town. We have had the good fortune of running several successful businesses in Ocean City. Our first business was a sailboat rental operation on the bay in 1979. We grew our businesses to the point that in some years we were employing 50-100 seasonal workers at a time.
As we designed and built our businesses, we gained a multitude of experience working with the Town of Ocean City through the building and permit process. Our latest project is the TownCenter Midtown Boardwalk on 67th Street. Through all of those years in development, we have realized how lucky we are to live in a town where the people we elect and the town staff sincerely cares about Ocean City. And for that, we are grateful.
We have watched the landscape of Ocean City evolve over the years and we have been part of that evolution. As we built our businesses, others were doing the same and slowly what used to be sandy lots along the bay have become condos or restaurants, homes or shops. Older, dilapidated buildings have been replaced by new construction. And now in addition to our new boardwalk, we have a public library and a beautiful community art gallery. Life just continues to get better and better.
The point of my letter is that Ocean City is wonderful and unique. If you own a business in Ocean City, you know that a booming summer season will pay your bills and if you’re lucky enough, you can put a little aside for business improvements and enough to get you through the winter. In the off season, when the crowds subside, many businesses depend heavily on the Convention Center business. Conventions have filled hotel rooms and restaurants and have a great impact on the tax revenue that Ocean City collects.
The idea of the Convention Center attracting more business, especially in the off season, has been talked about for years. Over the last 10 years a groundswell of interest to expand the versatility of the Convention Center has developed. The idea of a new stream of revenue, in addition to hosting traditional conventions, led to an extensive study which supported the idea of renovating part of the Convention Center so that a new Arts and Entertainment market could be developed. The study showed such a great potential for an increase in additional tax revenue that the Governor and Stadium Authority agreed to finance 41% with the balance of construction costs paid with an existing food & beverage tax, so the renovation would not cost local residents a dime. (By law, the food and beverage tax can only be used for Convention Center maintenance and development.) With all of the financing in place, the Ocean City Council voted unanimously to approve Phase II (construction of a Multi-purpose Performing Arts facility) after Phase I was completed (an additional ballroom on the waterfront of the Convention Center). The council was especially pleased that the renovation would not cost resident tax payers anything and the businesses, community and visitors would reap the benefit of music performances and shows, especially during the off season. This is a win-win for everyone.
The city has received the financial commitment from the Stadium Authority and has broken ground. But, to the detriment of the businesses and residents who will benefit from Phase II of the Convention Center, Tony Christ, the misguided and misinformed individual, who I repeat, is not a resident of Ocean City, will be knocking on your door asking you to sign a petition to stop the construction of the performing arts facility in the Convention Center. I’m not sure what motivates a person to start a petition against a project that has the full support of the Governor, the entire City Council and the vast majority of residents and businesses (who frankly need the additional help in the off season). I can’t think of why a few disgruntled, unhappy people (some who don’t even live in Ocean City) would petition against the will of a town.
The addition of the performing arts center will add to the many reasons why people choose to live and vacation here. It will complement our new boardwalk, art gallery, our pristine beaches and fantastic amusement parks; it’s another great amenity. A performance facility that allows the town to showcase our own local talent enables Ocean City to grow and become better and better. Mr. Tony Christ is not a resident of Ocean City. Please tell Mr. Christ and his comrades, no thank you, I will not sign your petition to stop construction of the Convention Center. And don’t let him tell you the Convention Center renovation will raise your taxes because it will not. But remember, if you sign the petition, it will cost you, the taxpayers, millions of dollars.
Andy Harris has clearly staked out his position with his vote on the Senate compromise approved by the full House to resolve the government shutdown/debt limit crisis. If it’s a choice between risking default on our national debt with the risk of a globalwide recession and lots of pain for investors (Republican, Democrat and Independent alike) or making a vain and very costly attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act, “Andefault” chose to vote for the option that panders to the most extreme right wing of his constituents regardless of consequences and would have done the most harm to the country, as he does on most issues. Responsible Republicans need to be looking right now for a reasonable alternative for 2014.
Bob Augustine Berlin
Positive Impact Saluted
The Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce presented the annual Business of the Year and Citizen of the Year awards at a “roaring twenties” themed event catered by Galaxy 66 Restaurant which was held at the Ocean City Lions Club on Oct. 18. Owner Bob Hammond of Atlantic Physical Therapy accepted the Business of the Year award and Kathy Jacobs of Brandywine Assisted Living was named Citizen of the Year.
The Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore sponsored the Non-Profit of the Year award, which was presented to the Atlantic General Hospital Foundation and accepted on its behalf by Todd Ferrante.
The positive impact of the efforts and achievements of these individuals, businesses and organizations has been a blessing to thousands, if not tens of thousands, in our local community and far beyond. As many have pointed out before, we are truly blessed to be a part of this community which includes so many truly inspirational role models.
Please join us at the Ocean Pines Chamber in expressing our gratitude to these heroes among us.
Berger Saved A Life
On behalf of the Maryland Society of Surveyors, I wanted to express our thanks and gratitude to Dr. Leonard Berger, owner of the Clarion Hotel. The Surveyors membership had their annual fall meeting at the hotel Oct. 11-12 and encountered an emergency situation on the last day of the conference.
One of our members experienced profuse sweating and dizziness while attending one of the classes. Dr. Berger stabilized the attendee and 911 was called and responded immediately. Dr. Berger stayed with our guest and calmed him down while he gathered information for the EMS staff. The EMS staff credited Dr. Berger for saving the man’s life. He was subsequently taken to AGH then transferred to a hospital in Baltimore where he had surgery.
Because of the quick response by Dr. Berger, and his expertise in handling a medical emergency, we averted a disaster and we are so grateful for his response.