Voices From The Readers

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Hopeful For Cruisin

Compromise In OC

Editor:

While researching the Maryland vehicle code, I found your May 25 article discussing the various opinions and positions of the residents and the organizers of the Cruisin’ Ocean City car show. I first want to compliment you on a well written article, but I also want to add my own personal anecdote.

Our family has been coming to the Delaware and Maryland beaches for many years and some of our favorite events are the Spring and Fall car shows in Ocean City. Last fall I entered our 2012 Specially Constructed vehicle in the Endless Summer car show. Our entry was refused by the organizers because they did not believe our car was legal in Maryland. I was confused and questioned the organizers, but we did not push the issue and avoided the event. This Spring when I returned to OC, I learned why, your city has its own set of standards for motor vehicles.

We are a promotions company. We place signage on the sides of our giant street-legal grocery cart to promote businesses, brands, charity events, etc. We put our own company signage on the side of the basket and brought the Shopper Chopper to Ocean City for the Cruisin’ OC event. We were there to enjoy the weekend and maybe find a customer to hire us for the Fall events. We unloaded the trailer and made one drive down Coastal Highway to put gas in the vehicle on Friday night, then it was back in the trailer due to rain (we do not drive in rain or inclement weather).

On Saturday morning, we unloaded and drove north for a few blocks to join our friends in the satellite car show going on in the Hooters parking lot. Before we could get to our destination, the Ocean City Police pulled us over and issued a warning for violating Section 23-104 of the Maryland code for not complying with “Minimum standards for equipment”. The officer was very professional and polite and explained that he could cite me for multiple violations, but he pulled me over because my vehicle did not have door handles. Door handles.  We were not even allowed to drive back to our trailer, we were told to bring the trailer back to the spot where we were pulled over. Door handles.

I understand the heavy police presence in Ocean City. The condo where we were staying is a few blocks off Coastal Highway and noise throughout the night made sleeping a challenge. I appreciate and support most of what the OCPD is trying to do. Car show weekends bring out lots of reckless, careless and disrespectful drivers and spectators. My issue is with the overzealous approach taken by the OCPD in my situation. I have been researching the Maryland code and have spoken with the Automotive Safety Enforcement Division to get a clear definition of what a door is so I can modify my vehicle to Maryland standards. Sargent Lasner of ASED informed me that if my car is inspected in my home state of Pennsylvania, then I can legally operate it on the roads of Maryland. I believe OCPD takes an extreme interpretation of Maryland law and enforces that law arbitrarily.

Our vehicle is unusual. We spent a great deal of engineering time, research and expense to conform to the vehicle code of Pennsylvania. Our vehicle is safe and certainly roadworthy. But because of the open-air nature and the position of the passenger compartment, we limit the speed of the Shopper Chopper to 35 mph. It makes its money going slow. We drive it like a little old lady going to church because we spent so much time and money building it.  I should point out that we have traveled all over the Eastern half of the US and Canada for events and the only time we have been pulled over was by OCPD.

We would like to return to Ocean City for the Fall car show, so I spoke by telephone to the officer who issued the written warning to get clarification on Maryland law. He directed me to the online code relative to inspection procedures. I want to point out that I am not required to have my car inspected in Maryland to drive in your state. I made a few modifications guessing at what some of the vague terms in the code meant and sent photographs to the Ocean City Police Department (Chief Buzzuro) asking if my vehicle was now acceptable and, if not, what would we need to change to be allowed to drive on the streets of Ocean City. I have yet to get a response from OCPD.

I wanted to share my story of someone who spent lots of money to come to Ocean City (for an event that brings lots of revenue to local businesses) only to be told I was not welcome there.

Again, kudos to you for the article, I hope the organizers of the car shows, the OCPD and the local residents can work out a compromise that satisfies almost everyone. Still not sure if we will ever be back if we can’t get a clear explanation of what the rules are.

Cal Van Sant

Kirkwood, Pa.

 

Negative Impact Of

Beach Replenishment

Editor:

I feel compelled to respond to last week’s article about beach replenishment and ocean injuries. First, I want to thank you for addressing a very serious issue. I am a surfer and have spent thousands of hours in the water learning and understanding currents and waves. I have lived at many different beaches including Ocean City for over 30 years. Some of these beaches have never been replenished or altered in any way.  College classes in Oceanography and Physics have given me a strong understanding of the mechanics and properties of waves and water. My thoughts and theories are more than opinion and certainly can be supported.

I feel very strongly that beach re-nourishment has absolutely had a negative impact, causing more injuries and creating dangerous currents and shore break in Ocean City.  It is impossible to make a comparison as the dynamics and conditions that effect currents and swells are never the same. So statistically there won’t look to be any correlation or connection. You must take into consideration that even though the entire stretch of beach was not replenished, it affected the shape of the bottom for many miles in either direction. There will be no way to compare replenished verses non-replenished areas. As well, I have observed lifeguards broadcasting strong warnings to beachgoers which I believe has prevented many injuries.

I could not disagree more with Beach Patrol Captain Butch Arbin’s statement, “the only scientific correlation I can make would be that beach replenishment cut down on rip currents.” In reality, it is quite the opposite. The key here is what actually causes the rip currents and shore break which ultimately results in injuries — wave energy. So what’s important to understand is how beach re-nourishment relates to wave energy. The size, power and direction of the waves are drastically affected by the shape and grade of the bottom. An excellent example would be Myrtle Beach and most of the Florida beaches.  These beaches have a very gradual and shallow bottom. More importantly they also have shallow sandbars between 50 and 150 yards out. These places get the same type of swells and weather as we do here in Ocean City, yet the wave energy and beach erosion are virtually nonexistent at the shoreline. A six-foot wave, which is sizable and powerful breaking on the sandbar, would result in a weak, shin high rolling wave as it reaches the shore. Absolutely no question that there would be minimal erosion and considerably fewer injuries. Equally important, it would virtually eliminate rip and other strong currents near the shore.  Agreed the sandy bottom is always moving, but much more so where the surf is powerful enough to suspend sand particles in the water. This would be in the impact zone (the point at which a wave breaks).  If the waves are breaking 100 yards out, the beach is not reshaped, the sandbars are. Currently, since the re-nourishment, in Ocean City the impact zone is within feet of the shore if not breaking on dry sand.  If you look at the properties of waves and how they break, this all clearly makes sense.

There are two main types of breakers. Spilling breakers occur on flatter, shallower shores. Their crests break and cascade down the front as they draw near the shore, dissipating energy gradually. In a plunging breaker, which occurs on steeper shores, the crest curls and falls over the front of the advancing wave, and the whole wave then collapses at once. This energy has nowhere to go but back out as it reaches the shore. This causes rip currents as the water rebounds and draws out. The re-nourishment creates an environment that waves of virtually any size are plunging breakers. Obviously the bigger they are the more dangerous and destructive they are.

In a nutshell, once a wave has crested or broke, it loses its power and energy exponentially. The longer it carries the more it weakens. By replenishing the beach, it changes the shape of the bottom and wipes out the sandbars. This allows the full energy and impact of a wave to make it all the way to the shore. Because the wave is completely unimpeded all the way to the shoreline it magnifies the effect and force of the moving water as the water gets shallower and shallower. Under these circumstances any size wave will hold its entire potential energy until it comes within feet of the shoreline. Todd Lester’s response was spot on. This has created a very dangerous situation for anyone who goes in the water. Sadly without some kind of sandbar the beach re-nourishment is pointless and wasteful.  As long as the waves can make it to the beach as a plunging break, the sand will continue to be swept away aggressively. And worst of all the injuries will continue with frequency. The solution is one word –sandbar. It is pretty simple, cut the waves down before they get close to shore and you not only take the inherent danger away but no longer spend millions every four years or so pumping the sand back on the beach.

Eric Rei

Ocean City

 

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