About Joanne Shriner

Staff Writer

Community Loses A Legend In ‘Mr. B’; Memorial To Remember Brooks At Fenwick Restaurant

Crabcake Factory owner John Brooks, right, is pictured with his father, Ron Brooks. File Photo

OCEAN CITY – The “heart and soul” of the Crabcake Factory has passed on but his warm smile and dancing shoes will never be forgotten.

Ronald John “Mr. B” Brooks passed away suddenly on March 18 at the age of 82 during a routine visit to the doctor’s office. A solid message rang out during his service held at Fenwick Island Baptist Church on Tuesday — “live today because tomorrow is never promised.”

Just days before Mr. B passed away he was seen at his youngest son’s restaurant dancing to live music during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, which will carry on as a lasting memory for many.

Mr. B was a fixture at the Crabcake Factory, starting at the original location on 120th Street but most recently at the Bayside location on Route 54 as it was located near his Fenwick home. A sign saying “Mr. B’s Corner” has hung on the wall since the restaurant’s opening where he would sit drinking his Mountain Dew enjoying the company of staff and patrons.

“Bayside was such a blessing not only because it was down the street but because it was a whole new crowd for us. He instantly made that his place and took it upon himself to meet and greet every customer new and old,” Crabcake Factory owner John Brooks said. “People just loved his smile and genuine warmth. He never spoke to anyone without a gentle touch and a smile. I was with my brother all week and noticed they have the same mannerisms. It was weird but makes me think of how he just connected with people. He was eloquent in almost every situation, which is where I get my calm demeanor in crisis. He has given me so much that I don’t even realize.”

The Brooks family has come together during this time as he leaves behind his wife Isabelle, his two sons, Ronald and John Brooks, and a daughter, Suzee Nolan. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Kimberly Brooks.

Nolan, and her husband, Ken Nolan, as well as John Brooks and his wife, Krista Brooks, will all be sharing a role in filling Mr. B’s role at the restaurants as they all live close by.

“There will never be another Mr. B, but I hope we can make people feel at home with us like he did,” John Brooks said. “If one good thing came out of it, the Brooks family is now whole again.”

Mr. B has seven grandchildren, Sam Nolan, Emma, Ella, Elissa and Emelia Brooks and Curt and Delaney Brooks.

“Those grandkids are the light of his life and will now keep my mom going hopefully for years to come,” John Brooks said.

According to John Brooks, Mr. B had a knack for leaving notes but as technology advanced his notes turned into text messages.

“He had just sent me a text saying ‘My goal is to make it to 90 [years old] son, then I can talk with all the girls [John’s children] and they will remember how much ‘P’ [short for Grampy] loved them,” John Brooks said.

A long-time Crabcake Factory employee will be building a memorial on the eastside of the Bayside location to remind all to remember Mr. B at sunset. A new tradition is also taking place at Crabcake Factory as a daily toast will be made in Mr. B’s memory at happy hour, as well as during University of Maryland Terps games.

Many knew Mr. B as an avid Maryland Terps fan. He was a three-sport star athlete at Anacostia High School in Washington D.C., and received a full scholarship to the University of Maryland to play basketball in 1950 even though baseball was considered his best sport. Mr. B played for legendary coach Bud Milliken, and with All American back court mate Gene Shue until graduation in 1954.

After college, Mr. B completed his education as an Air Force jet pilot and was stationed in Ann Arbor, Mich. until 1958. Mr. B and Isabelle Brooks were married on Nov. 25, 1966 and resided in Bethesda. Mr. B opened Brooks Advertising in Washington D.C. and was president of the Downtown Jaycees. In 1996, he relocated to the Eastern Shore.

“My dad belonged to everyone. I didn’t get that for many years. He was always Coach Brooks and several of his former players were at the funeral. It didn’t hit me until I spoke with them on how much he meant to them. A lot of them had less then desirable home situations and he had no problem being that surrogate father for all his boys,” John Brooks said. “He never missed one sporting event I was involved with in his entire life. I could always hear his voice through the crowd even when I got to Woodward High School in Bethesda where he was president of the Booster Club for three years and on to college at Shepherd University where he came to every practice and every game I ever played there traveling all over West Virginia.”

Mr. B organized the Terps on the Shore Golf Tournament benefitting many local and national nonprofits for 17 years like St. Jude’s, Wounded Warriors, Coaches for Cancer as well as his favorite cause — Ocean City youth sports. Lefty Driesell was the Honorary Chairman of the last several sharity events Brooks put on.

“Terps basketball was in full swing at the time [he passed] and we had regular visits from lots of old alumni and of course there was Lefty,” John Brooks said. “Lefty and my Dad were two peas in a pod. They looked alike and shared the same country boy humor and intelligence that kept people captivated.”

“Mr. B” could be found many days in the summer at the youth camps held at Northside Park in Ocean City helping out.

“He always had time for kids not matter what and loved Hondo Handy and the folks up there,” John Brooks said.

For his youngest son, it is still hard to believe he is gone.

“A lot of people didn’t get my dad’s and my relationship because they only saw what we allowed people to see in public … my father was not only the heart and soul of the business for almost 20 years but he was and is my heart and soul. Just like me, the business will go on and new generations of the family will pitch in and help us keep up his tradition of being more than just a restaurant. He considered these people his family and if there’s one thing I realized this week is that all of them were affected by his passing. I got to spend the last 20 years of my life seeing my Dad on a daily basis, almost like living with him, so there were some battles and differences of opinions for sure but at the end of the day regardless of what he did he was my father first, my friend second and my partner always,” John Brooks said.

It has been a week since Mr. B has gone and for his family every day it gets a little easier.

“I don’t think I will ever not wake up and think of where he is and hope he’s warm and happy. But I’m finding the things that made me cry are starting to make me smile. One day I hope they make me laugh,” John Brooks said. “I will see him again someday. My faith tells me this and I know he will be waiting, with a cold beer and a pile full of notes to guide me along. I miss my Dad, and so does everyone he’s ever touched.”

 

Ocean City Eyes Mobile Pay Parking App For Coming Season

The City Council voted 6-0 this week to collect proposals from companies offering pay-by-phone parking systems to go along with the current Cale parking machines, which provide a receipt for users to display in their vehicles. File Photo

OCEAN CITY – The Town of Ocean City is planning to collect proposals for a pay-by-phone smart phone app for parking in the hopes of having it active by this summer season.

The Transportation Commission met on Tuesday morning to discuss the potential of a parking pay-by-phone smart phone app. Following the presentation, the commission was in consensus to forward a favorable recommendation to the full Mayor and City Council at the work session later that day for approval to pursue vendors in order to have the app active by the 2015 summer season.

Public Works Deputy Director John VanFossen recognized a pay-by-phone app as an “On the Horizon” objective in the town’s Strategic Plan for “Quality of Life Services”, and Public Works has been reviewing information on mobile applications to provide pay-by-phone services for Ocean City’s Cale parking meter program. Using a smart phone app, patrons will have the convenience to pay for parking using their smart phone or tablet. This type of program would improve services by offering an additional option of payment for the Town of Ocean City.

VanFossen listed advantages of a pay-by-phone for parking app starting with providing another means of payment for patrons; a convenience of use without needing cash or credit card; its user friendly and provides a better experience in parking; its quick and easy with QR code recognition; its GPS capable so it will guide patrons back to their car after parking; there is mapping of city parking locations on the smartphone; patrons receive text alerts when the meter is about expire and extend time from a remote location; it will help reduce parking tickets or fines issued; provides real time enforcement with Wi-Fi connectivity; there will be less coin collections and handling; metropolitan areas are already familiar with the app; and people prefer to use pay-by-phone parking.

Customers using the pay-by-phone option would pay a 50-cent per transaction user fee to the service provider of which the Town of Ocean City would receive a 15-cent portion, and though there is no cost of implementation to the city’s Cale parking meter system for pay-by-phone software, there is an additional cost for real time communications to the city’s existing enforcement hardware to add Wi-Fi capability.

Currently, there are deficiencies within the city’s enforcement ticketing hardware and software and upgrades would be required for integration to provide pay-by-phone service. According to Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Captain Kevin Kirstein, the OCPD is in favor of the upgrade. The initial cost is $5,000.

“Currently you cannot pay your ticket immediately if you wanted to because our existing system has to be downloaded after the officer’s return to the station at the end of their shift and then the information becomes available, so there is a time delay with the system,” VanFossen explained.

The 2014 paid parking season from April 4 to Oct. 19 resulted in $268,000 in cash parking revenue and $1,396,000 in credit card parking revenue totaling $1,664,000. There were a total of 266,449 credit card transactions. A 10-percent use of a pay-by-phone app is a potential increase of $4,000 in revenue, 20 percent use is a potential $8,000 increase and a 30 percent use is a potential $12,000 increase.

“There is an initial cost that is minor in comparison to the overall revenue that we take in under our parking operation, and there is definitely savings for the town. You can look at it as a savings or revenue generator … It appears to be a win-win for the town and the user,” VanFossen said.

A pay-by-phone service vendor would provide the Town of Ocean City with all needed printed information, social media enhancements, sign material and assistance required for completion to implement for the 2015 summer season.

“One key thing we looked at was the demographics and where we draw our visitors from. One of the particular vendors has 75,000 registered users already, so we would like to pursue them and other vendors out there to see what they have to offer,” VanFossen said.

At the Mayor and City Council work session later that day, Transportation Commission Chair and Mayor Rick Meehan brought forward the concept.

“In our discussion, we talked about all the advantages in providing another means of payment for our customers. It is a convenience, and it allows customers to get an alert if they are on the beach that their meter is about to expire, and they can pay right there from their phone so they won’t get a ticket. Our goal is to get people to pay the meters for parking and not get a ticket,” the mayor said. “We are looking to reduce tickets and fines but increase revenue by allowing people a better opportunity to make those payments in a timely manner without having to go back and feed the meter that we all know can be cumbersome.”

Meehan pointed out pay-by-phone apps is seen in many cities, as close as Bethany Beach, Rehoboth Beach and Lewes, and many visitors will already have the apps downloaded to use from using it in other areas.

“It doesn’t replace the way you currently pay for parking. You will still be able to use cash or credit card at the Cale stations. This would be an alternative means of making that payment,” the mayor said.

VanFossen explained to the council, if patrons choose to pay-by-phone they insert their license plate number and will not have a printed receipt displayed on their vehicle that is provided by the Cale machine. The officer’s updated equipment will verify the vehicles license plate to know if it has paid to park.

“The reason we are bringing it to you today is if you approve the basic concept, the unanimous recommendation of the Transportation Commission is staff will follow the proper procurement policy to solicit vendor proposals from within the area,” the mayor said. “Time is of the essence, and if you approve it today we can have those proposals brought back for recommendation and have this ready by summer.”

The council voted 6-0 with Councilman Tony DeLuca absent to approve staff moving forward in collecting proposals from pay-by-phone for parking vendors to have the operation active by this summer season.

UPDATED: Ocean City, FOP Reach First Impasse In Union Contract Talks; Arbitration Likely If Issues Unresolved

Photo by Chris Parypa

(Editor’s Note: Part of the following story appeared in print this morning,  but the article has been updated to include comments made by Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan at last night’s Mayor and Council meeting.)

OCEAN CITY – For the first time since the police department unionized, the Ocean City lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police’s membership has voted to go to arbitration with the Town of Ocean City as the two parties have come to a standoff during negotiations.

“As of right now, we have kind of reached an impasse. We are still working towards coming up with a resolution without arbitration. However, we have notified the city of our intent to go to arbitration,” Ocean City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 10 President Shawn Jones said.

In the spirit of wanting to come to a resolution, Jones did not want to go into detail of the dispute but he did indicate it is in regards to pay and benefits.

“Unfortunately, we are so far apart from where our membership feels we need to be. In 2008, we conceded our Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) and we haven’t had a Cost Of Living Adjustment since 2008, so we are going on seven years without that type of adjustment,” Jones said. “We negotiated for four and half days and just weren’t able to come close to an agreement.”

The FOP’s legal counsel has contacted City Solicitor Guy Ayres letting him know the FOP membership has voted to go to arbitration if the city is not willing to reconsider.

“We are disappointed in the city’s position on things. As of right now, we are filing for arbitration but if we are able to get back to the table and work out a deal we would be interested in doing so,” Jones said. “As of right now, the ball is in their court.”

Arbitration would begin in upcoming weeks as the City Charter states an agreement must be reached by March 1.

The FOP negotiated its first contract in 2004 after a referendum was approved by city voters, and in over 10 years the point of arbitration has never been reached.

“Whenever the city has approached us to concede contractually obligated Steps, COLAs, things of that nature we have worked with the city, even when times were tough back in the recession to do what we could to avoid going to that process,” Jones said. “We have always had a good working relationship with the current council, so I am not really sure what it is. From what we have been seeing, the city is in a sound financial footing, so we don’t believe it is that. We are just not really sure where it is coming from. We are frankly surprised with the posture the city has taken.”

Both the FOP and International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 4269 last reached union contract agreements in February 2013. The FOP was under a two-year contract while the IAFF is under a three-year contract. The Fire Department’s contract expires next year and will head toward negotiations at that time.

At last night’s Mayor and Council meeting, Mayor Rick Meehan confirmed the stalemate between the city and the FOP’s bargaining unit. He said it’s important for the city’s residents to be aware of the process and where it stood at this point.

“Unfortunately, after five days of negotiations, we were unable to come to an agreement with the bargaining unit for the FOP on a new contract. The current contract expires on July 1, 2015. The negotiations were professional and cordial and although the goal of both parties was to come to an agreement we have been unable to do so at this point,” Meehan said. “Once one party declares an impasse, the arbitration procedure begins. We have been notified by the FOP and their attorney they have declared an impasse. At this point, the arbitration will begin. We will make sure to keep everybody informed on that. This is the first time under binding interest arbitration with the FOP and the police department that we have reached an impasse. It’s unfortunate because I think we have a great working relationship with the police department and like I said earlier they do a fabulous job for the Town of Ocean City. We just weren’t able to come to an agreement on some of the terms, conditions and numbers. That’s why the arbitration process in place. With the glass half full, we are hoping it doesn’t come to that but it looks like that’s the direction we are headed. … the two sides have agreed to disagree at this point.”

 

Fair, Equal Street Performer Rotation Program Requested; Busker Issues Dominate Boardwalk Hearing

Ocean City Beach Patrol Lt. Ward Kovacs addressed the Boardwalk Task Force on Tuesday. Pictured are Chair Greg Shockley and Task Force member and street performer Mark Chase. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – Boardwalk merchants turned out in one large voice calling out for fairness and equality at a public hearing this week concerning street performers.

The Town of Ocean City has been struggling with the proliferation of street performers on the Boardwalk for several years. Issues have grown as the number of performers increase every year and the acts become more disturbing from spray paint fumes to costumed characters to a pole dancer. However, court rulings in recent years protecting street performer’s First Amendment right have prevented the town from strictly regulating the acts on the Boardwalk.

Last month a Boardwalk Task Force was created to specifically look into these concerns. Mayor Rick Meehan recommended five members to serve on the task force, starting with Chair Greg Shockley, owner of Shenanigan’s on the Boardwalk and Ocean City Development Corporation board member; Frank Knight, representing the Boardwalk Development Committee; Lee Gerachis, owner of Malibu’s Surf Shop on the Boardwalk; Bob Rothermel, representing the Downtown Association; and street performer Mark Chase. The mayor also recommended the staff liaisons be City Manager David Recor and Ocean City Police Lt. Mark Pacini.

On Monday evening, the task force held its first public hearing. Another one will be held Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m. at City Hall.

The first group of speakers the task force personally invited presented feedback to questions provided by Venable, the town’s legal counsel regarding street performers that specializes First Amendment rights.

According to Pacini, who has patrolled the Boardwalk since 1989, the recent court rulings eliminated the town’s requirement for performers to obtain a permit from Town Hall to perform on the Boardwalk, therefore causing issues in gauging the number of performers on the Boardwalk. It also allowed performers permission to sell their expressive material on the Boardwalk.

“Based on my experience, I knew that giving the ability to sell items on the Boardwalk would cause great concern for our business owners, ultimately tying up police resources to review and handle these types of complaints,” Pacini said.

Besides educating Boardwalk merchants and street performers on the court ruling and providing additional training to police officers, all performer requests to sell their wares are filtered through Town Hall, and then to the police department for ultimately Pacini to work with the City Solicitor’s Office to make a final decision on if the wares are expressive material or retail.

Pacini listed many other problems, including performer and citizen safety regarding using weapons as props, spray paint art fumes, gas generators, the touching of other persons in the act, costume characters and the covering of their identities, and blocking Boardwalk access points.

Also, he mentioned the proliferation of J1 and F1 students performing on the Boardwalk outside of Homeland Security rules, crowd control, payments for wares, signage, the footprint of performance areas being near fire hydrants, on city benches, being roped off, or highlighted with LED lights, abandonment of property when street performers set up their equipment first thing in the morning to mark their spot and leave until their time of performance, advertising of religious, political and philosophical views and what is the appropriate noise level being amplified by performers.

“The current state of the town ordinance with respect to street performers is somewhat confusing for law enforcement to enforce. Combine this confusion with looming potential for civil liability cripples law enforcement,” Pacini said.

Ocean City Beach Patrol Lt. Ward Kovacs has worked with the OCBP for 33 years. He pointed out another main emergency access point to the beach and Boardwalk besides N. Division St. is Dorchester St. where beach patrol’s headquarters is located.

According to Kovacs, on average the beach patrol crosses the Boardwalk at Dorchester St. 30 times a day during the summer, which is about 3,000 crossings a summer.

“Working 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the early part of the shift, beach patrol rarely encounters performers on Dorchester St. but later in the day the beach patrol begins to experience problems with performers setting up at the street end and the crowds that form around the performer,” he said.  “Roughly about 1,000 crossings are delayed per season due to performers.”

In the case of life threatening situations, street performers cause a delay for the beach patrol to gain access, Kovacs stated.

“Twice this [past] season, we had off-duty drownings. Roughly around 6 p.m. when our guards had already left the beach one of our sergeants was returning to headquarters from 27th St. when we saw the person face down in the water. He had initiated a response. I was the only one left at headquarters and I got in one of our emergency trucks with one other lifeguard. When we tried to respond, we were delayed crossing the Boardwalk because there was a large crowd, which left the sergeant out in the heavy surf with an unconscious person by himself,” Kovacs said of one incident.

Kovacs requested Dorchester St. also be restricted from street performers.

“I want to be fair to the performers. Most of the time it is just a time delay when we need to move quick but those critical times when they are delaying our response to an emergency it is the worst feeling when you know it is right there but you can’t get to it because there are people in our way,” he said.

Ocean City Development Corporation Executive Director Glenn Irwin reported this past summer had the most Boardwalk performers he had ever seen in Ocean City.

“Looking at it one way, this is a good thing since it shows the health of the Boardwalk and the performers and artists see the opportunity to showcase their talents and earn money.  However, too much of a good thing isn’t always good either,” he said.

Irwin had observed Boardwalk merchants who sell the same products or services as some of the artists consider themselves being at an unfair disadvantage acknowledging the store merchants pay high rents and are required to have a business license that have associated fees, while Boardwalk performers do not have these same business costs.

“Just as a business person knows, the Boardwalk performers and artists know that location is extremely important in setting up one’s operation, even for one day.   Claiming Boardwalk locations start early in the day and sometimes get territorial,” Irwin said. “Both Boardwalk stores and residential/hotel properties along the Boardwalk do not wish to hear the same music every day, all week long and some, all summer long. Variety would be beneficial.”

Irwin recommended a lottery system for locations and rotation of the Boardwalk performers.

“Boardwalk performers have been part of the Boardwalk for many years and do add interest and attraction for tourists.  There are just too many performers and artists at few locations and they overwhelm the boardwalk.   I believe this reduces the enjoyment and Boardwalk experience for visitors, residents and boardwalk merchants,” he said.

In the second hour of the public hearing, the task force accepted public testimony, which mostly contained input from Boardwalk business owners who are fed up with performers setting up shop in front of their storefronts causing crowds to block the entrances.

According to Kitty Wyatt of Sassy Beachwear, located on the Boardwalk near Dorchester St., several performers will set up within a short distance of her storefront on both the east and west sided of the Boardwalk, leading to territorial arguments.

“At times, it can be a zoo out there, especially on Dorchester where it is so wide it can get really crazy,” Wyatt said. “We want fairness. Performers are taking away from us preventing customers from walking into our stores … we are there to pay our rent, and make money in the so many months we have to do it, and I shouldn’t have to call the police every day.”

Dan Troiano of Dimensions located near the Caroline Street Comfort Station watches Boardwalk patrons daily get pushed to the concrete pad on the eastern side of the Boardwalk away from storefronts to avoid performers and their crowds.

“That is not helping us. All of us here are losing money,” he said. “They can at least space out to help us.”

Michael Cantine of Fat Cats Airbrush on the Boardwalk currently pays $90,000 a year in rent and is annoyed by performers hiding by the First Amendment.

“How far is this going to go? How do we determine what is art and freedom of speech and what is commercial art and retail? I think a lot of people are irritated that performers get to do this for free, and come to Ocean City and rope off a piece of this beautiful Boardwalk that we all love and claim it,” he said.

Yesim Karaman of the Golden Plate on 1st Street and the Boardwalk recognized all Boardwalk merchants have the same feeling in the inequity of the situation. Karaman also recommended a rotating schedule for street performers as well as limiting the number of performers on the Boardwalk to prevent overcrowding.

“We are upset because we pay rent and taxes. Our main goal as merchants is to pay our rent, to make money and be able to provide for our family. The more important goal is to provide a safe environment and to keep the family image of the Boardwalk. We all agree the First Amendment is valuable,” she said.

Earl Cantine of Fat Cats Airbrush outlined key points for the task force to focus on starting with implementing a permit process or registration for performers to know their identity, ensure public safety by restricting emergency access points, and create a definition differentiating performers and retail.

“The First Amendment as far as I know doesn’t give you the right to swipe a credit card on a cell phone to sell stuff. That’s what I do but I have a storefront and business license,” he said.

Cantine added a rotating schedule or a lottery in designating street performing locations is used in other towns.

“That would be good for our town. There are a lot of us getting sick of the same performer grabbing the same spot on the first-come, first-serve basis,” he said.

Bruce Leiner of the Candy Kitchen also called for fairness at this week’s hearing.

“We all need to work together and generally they [performers] are a positive asset. We are a family town and safety and family should come first but along those lines there should never be any roped off areas blocking entrances or public access because that is how people get hurt,” he said. “The city is the one that will get sued. It is not if it is when it will happen. There is a way to do it safely and fairly.”

Leiner added a minimum distance should be set in certain areas, for example between performers and fire hydrants.

“Have the performers set up on the east side away from businesses. They should not be able to block storefronts. It is common sense if the fire marshal comes and he can’t get in or out of a store that is a fire hazard. An officer should also be able to walk up and assess what is safe and tell them to move it along,” he said. “It seems to me a rotation would be fair and necessary. Perhaps with a given number of slots that the town in any given year can evaluate in what can be handled safely and still be fair for public speech.”

Several Ocean City residents who walk the Boardwalk regularly also spoke at Monday’s hearing.

“Personally speaking, businesses are losing money. I avoid businesses due to performers,” Christine Lieb said. “I have seen verbal attacks from one performer against another. I have been irritated by loud noise and being barraged when walking by performers and crowds. There are too many performers in a short distance, and occasionally because the Boardwalk is so packed my husband and I have had to cross in a performers circle and we have been verbally abused. I don’t mind some performers but we just have a barrage of them. It is too much and it is not a pleasant experience anymore.”

Ocean City resident Brian McCarthy said a rotation would help address the formation of crowds along the Boardwalk.

“A rotating venue to get performers to move around so there is variety on the Boardwalk is certainly a way to go,” he said. “My opinion is that both businesses and the performers have to give a little in order to get this solved this year. If they can’t, I personally don’t think the city should shy away from going to court again because a Baltimore judge dictated what goes on, on the Boardwalk. That is not right.”

United Work and Travel Program Director Anne Marie Conestabile spoke in regards to J1 and F1 students performing on the Boardwalk as costumed characters.

“First of all J1 students are an exchange visitor, guests of the US, and he is to be treated and have the same freedoms an American would have during their time here. It gives them the opportunity to come here and work to experience the culture that we live every day,” she said.

However, Conestabile explained it is illegal for J1 students to work as an entertainer and be paid under the table. In some instances, her students have been allured by Boardwalk merchants to do such.

“If I find out they are my students, I will go … and take our students out of danger. They are being exploited. I have done it, and I plan on doing it again,” she said.

Conestabile furthered it is illegal for F1 students to work in Ocean City or any location outside of their learning institution. However, the U.S. issues 25 exceptions nationwide because the student has proved some type of hardship.

At the hearing, only two street performers spoke on Monday night.

“The street performers have a value to the vacationers. The folks coming here spending dollars in the retail establishments,” performer Randy Grimm said but did not offer any suggestions.

Longtime street performer Bill Campion stated trouble with buskers goes beyond the recent court rulings.

“Things started to change. We didn’t have a lot of people out there and now there are too many performers … you need to control how many you have out there and if you do I hope you consider us who have been out there for years and who have not caused any problems … we did cooperate amongst ourselves but I don’t see that much today,” he said.

Dew Tour Moving On After Four-Year Run In Ocean City; GM Calls It ‘A Normal Course Of Action’

During the last summers, one of the stops of the Dew Tour, an action sports festival, was in Ocean City. Photo by Shawn Soper

OCEAN CITY – Dew Tour and Ocean City officials set the record straight Wednesday after accusations made blaming the resort for the event’s decision not to return in 2015.

At the conclusion of Tuesday afternoon’s Mayor and City Council work session, Mayor Rick Meehan announced the Dew Tour will not be returning to Ocean City this summer.

Dew Tour consultant Chris Prybylo called Meehan over the weekend explaining the Dew Tour had changed executive management and will be taking on a new format this year that did not include an East Coast location.

Dew Tour events are premium action sports and lifestyle festivals combining the best in action sports competitions. The event stops in three or four different locations a year and had chosen Ocean City as a beach location for the past four years, resulting in a record breaking attendance each year.

“I want to thank the Dew Tour for four great years in Ocean City, and for all that they did. It was truly a family event that had become a signature event for Ocean City. It exemplified what we are all about of being outdoors and on the beach, and it had become nationally known by those who had never heard of Ocean City by the tremendous coverage that we had received on NBC and re-runs on ESPN. It was a great event but all good things move on. We went out on a high note by setting record breaking attendance records…but we will move on in 2015,” the mayor said.

Later Tuesday, after negative comments were posted to social media in response to news spreading about its decision, the Dew Tour released the following statement, “Ocean City has been a fantastic host city and partner for the Dew Tour for the past four years. As we plan for a new season in 2015, we will be looking to reach different markets, and will not hold an event in Ocean City. The support of Mayor Rick Meehan, the Town of Ocean City and the City Council has been tremendous in making the Dew Tour a success into our Beach event foray; we appreciate their continued support as we look to evolve the Dew Tour this year. We are still in the planning phases for the 2015 season and look forward to announcing our schedule and subsequent event details in the coming months. The Dew Tour explores many options when planning its schedule each year, and we look forward to working with Mountain Dew as we finalize our plans.”

In March of 2011, despite facing stiff competition from other resort towns, Ocean City was chosen to host the Dew Tour. While it was the seventh year that the tour had existed, it was the first time it would be hosted on the beach, allowing unique events for the Ocean City stop that other host cities were not able to provide, such as a surf competition.

In July of 2011, approximately 73,000 fans experienced the Dew Tour Pantech Open in downtown Ocean City for the first time, which was the highest attendance in the event’s history.

Prior to coming to Ocean City, the Dew Tour was held in Baltimore for two years and the largest crowd that gathered there were around 55,000. Baltimore city tourism leaders claimed the event generated roughly $10 million in economic impact when they hosted the tour in 2009.

In the first year, the projected cost to the Town of Ocean City was around $19,000, mostly due to loss of revenue from the Inlet parking lot over the course of the four-day event. However, it was explained that the Dew Tour is televised by a number of large networks, including MTV, USA and NBC, both in the country and internationally. Early estimations resulted in Ocean City receiving at least $6 million worth of advertising due to exposure from the tour, not to mention millions more going to hotels, restaurants and other area businesses.

In its second year, the Dew Tour was held in downtown Ocean City in August of 2012. Again, the event was record breaking receiving 93,000 attendees. The 2012 event resulted in $97,000 in expenses for the Town of Ocean City between loss in revenue and in-kind services, such as labor costs.

Despite the rising costs for Ocean City, city officials welcomed the Dew Tour back to the downtown in June of 2013 with another record breaking attendance of 103,000 attendees. It was well known that the Dew Tour returns the favor by providing the town millions of dollars in positive economic impact from lodging, food beverage, recreation, as well as through their extensive marketing and exposure of Ocean City across the world.

In 2014, the Dew Tour was held in downtown Ocean City in June and reached an all-time high of 105,000 attendees. At that time, The Dispatch asked if the Dew Tour would return in 2015.

“The hospitality of the city and enthusiasm of the fans within Ocean City certainly helped contribute to its success,” Alli Sports President Eric Grilly said. “Our focus has been on preparing and planning the event for 2014; once we have our plans for the 2015 Dew Tour finalized we will begin conversations with host locations once again.”

However, in August 2014 Prybylo came before the Mayor and City Council requesting to hold the dates June 17-21 for the Dew Tour in Ocean City in 2015, and the council voted to approve. The costs to the city were unknown at the time of the request.

Following Tuesday’s announcement that the Dew Tour will not be returning in 2015, critics took to social media accusing the Town of Ocean City of being money hungry and conspiring some underlying reason for the Dew Tour not to return.

The Dispatch spoke to Dew Tour GM Chris Stiepock on Wednesday.

“As far as the new format, we always change things. There is no Dew Tour that has always been the same. It is just the natural course of action for an event,” Stiepock said. “It is uncommon for the event to stay in one place for a very long time. It has to do with many different things but also exposing the brand, both the Dew Tour and Mountain Dew brand, to different territories and different people, and working with different markets to spread the event and spread action sports.”

Stiepock furthered Ocean City demanding a bigger paycheck was not the case when it came to their decision.

“Ocean City has been great, responsive and friendly,” he said. “Every deal with every city that we have ever been to is in exchange for goods and service, so it is a combination of rates for hotel rooms where we stay, permits that we need, and assistance from police and fire, etc. It is a detailed arrangement in exchange for goods and services, and none of that changed as far as the deal that was on the table.”

Stiepock reiterated that Ocean City had nothing to do with the Dew Tour’s decision not to return.

“Ocean City has been a great location to hold the event. We have enjoyed being there. It really is a good fit for the Dew Tour. The city services were always great, and our concerts always ran smooth. The crowd was always responsive and happy to be there,” Stiepock said. “It is just the normal course of action for an event that has been in existence as long as the Dew Tour has to move on to different markets to expose and grow the brand.”

Stiepock concluded that the door has been left open in the Dew Tour conducting business with Ocean City in the future.

In 2013 and 2014 the Town of Ocean City and the Dew Tour signed a basic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that spelled out the different responsibilities of the two parties. Besides the MoU, the two parties held a marketing agreement that also spelled out the different entities responsibilities on the advertising end.

According to Ocean City Tourism Director Donna Abbott, none of the contracts between the Town of Ocean City and the Dew Tour included a clause that had the event remain in Ocean City over a given period of time, let alone have Ocean City remain a permanent stop for the Dew Tour.

Abbott furthered while the economic impact for Ocean City was initially estimated at $6 million that figure has certainly grown over the years along with the growth in attendance.

“The visuals provided money could not buy. From a tourism standpoint this event was worth the cost to the city,” Abbott said. “From a sports marketing standpoint, which we are increasing our attention on, this event served as a marketing tool in itself. The experience of hosting and supporting the Dew Tour carries forward, and that is a value in itself when you are marketing your destination.”

Abbott pointed out between the OC Air Show, conferences and various sporting events the month of June will continue to be busy and bring in revenue despite losing the Dew Tour.

“They may not be as visible as to what the public is looking for but in terms of economic impact they will certainly help,” Abbott said. “We hate to see an event leave but we are not going to stop our efforts to attract other events.”

In regards to the downtown water tower that reads “Welcome to Ocean City, Maryland Proud Home of the Dew Tour”, Stiepock stated as of right now there has been no discussions of removing the logo from the water tower. However, there has been mention of the Dew Tour leaving some kind of legacy in downtown Ocean City.

Abbott said the message is becoming weathered and will eventually have to be updated whether it is with the Dew Tour’s logo or not.

 

Dew Tour Head On Not Returning To OC: “It Is Just The Normal Course Of Action For An Event That Has Been In Existence As Long As The Dew Tour Has To Move On To Different Markets To Expose And Grow The Brand.”

1 dew option

OCEAN CITY – Dew Tour and Ocean City officials set the record straight Wednesday in response to false accusations blaming the resort for the event’s decision not to return in 2015.

At the conclusion of Tuesday afternoon’s Mayor and City Council work session, Mayor Rick Meehan announced the Dew Tour will not be returning to Ocean City this summer.

Dew Tour consultant Chris Prybylo called Meehan over the weekend explaining the Dew Tour had changed executive management and will be taking on a new format this year that did not include an East Coast location.

Dew Tour events are premium action sports and lifestyle festivals combining the best in action sports competitions. The event stops in three or four different locations a year and had chosen Ocean City as a beach location for the past four years, resulting in a record breaking attendance each year.

“I want to thank the Dew Tour for four great years in Ocean City, and for all that they did. It was truly a family event that had become a signature event for Ocean City. It exemplified what we are all about of being outdoors and on the beach, and it had become nationally known by those who had never heard of Ocean City by the tremendous coverage that we had received on NBC and re-runs on ESPN. It was a great event but all good things move on. We went out on a high note by setting record breaking attendance records…but we will move on in 2015,” the mayor said.

Later Tuesday, the Dew Tour released the following statement, “Ocean City has been a fantastic host city and partner for the Dew Tour for the past four years. As we plan for a new season in 2015, we will be looking to reach different markets, and will not hold an event in Ocean City. The support of Mayor Rick Meehan, the Town of Ocean City and the City Council has been tremendous in making the Dew Tour a success into our Beach event foray; we appreciate their continued support as we look to evolve the Dew Tour this year. We are still in the planning phases for the 2015 season and look forward to announcing our schedule and subsequent event details in the coming months. The Dew Tour explores many options when planning its schedule each year, and we look forward to working with Mountain Dew as we finalize our plans.”

In March of 2011, despite facing stiff competition from other resort towns, Ocean City was chosen to host the Dew Tour. While it was the seventh year that the tour had existed, it was the first time it would be hosted on the beach, allowing unique events for the Ocean City stop that other host cities were not able to provide, such as a surf competition.

In July of 2011, approximately 73,000 fans experienced the Dew Tour Pantech Open in downtown Ocean City for the first time, which was the highest attendance in the event’s history.

Prior to coming to Ocean City, the Dew Tour was held in Baltimore for two years and the largest crowd that gathered there were around 55,000. Baltimore city tourism leaders claimed the event generated roughly $10 million in economic impact when they hosted the tour in 2009.

In the first year, the projected cost to the Town of Ocean City was around $19,000, mostly due to loss of revenue from the Inlet parking lot over the course of the four-day event. However, it was explained that the Dew Tour is televised by a number of large networks, including MTV, USA and NBC, both in the country and internationally. Early estimations resulted in Ocean City receiving at least $6 million worth of advertising due to exposure from the tour, not to mention millions more going to hotels, restaurants and other area businesses.

In its second year, the Dew Tour was held in downtown Ocean City in August of 2012. Again, the event was record breaking receiving 93,000 attendees. The 2012 event resulted in $97,000 in expenses for the Town of Ocean City between loss in revenue and in-kind services, such as labor costs.

Despite the rising costs for Ocean City, city officials welcomed the Dew Tour back to the downtown in June of 2013 with another record breaking attendance of 103,000 attendees. It was well known that the Dew Tour returns the favor by providing the town millions of dollars in positive economic impact from lodging, food beverage, recreation, as well as through their extensive marketing and exposure of Ocean City across the world.

In 2014, the Dew Tour was held in downtown Ocean City in June and reached an all-time high of 105,000 attendees. At that time, The Dispatch asked if the Dew Tour would return in 2015.

“The hospitality of the city and enthusiasm of the fans within Ocean City certainly helped contribute to its success,” Alli Sports President Eric Grilly said. “Our focus has been on preparing and planning the event for 2014; once we have our plans for the 2015 Dew Tour finalized we will begin conversations with host locations once again.”

However, in August 2014 Prybylo came before the Mayor and City Council requesting to hold the dates June 17-21 for the Dew Tour in Ocean City in 2015, and the council voted to approve. The costs to the city were unknown at the time of the request.

Following Tuesday’s announcement that the Dew Tour will not be returning in 2015, critics took to social media accusing the Town of Ocean City of being money hungry and conspiring some underlying reason for the Dew Tour not to return.

The Dispatch spoke to Dew Tour GM Chris Stiepock on Wednesday.

“As far as the new format, we always change things. There is no Dew Tour that has always been the same. It is just the natural course of action for an event,” Stiepock said. “It is uncommon for the event to stay in one place for a very long time. It has to do with many different things but also exposing the brand, both the Dew Tour and Mountain Dew brand, to different territories and different people, and working with different markets to spread the event and spread action sports.”

Stiepock furthered Ocean City demanding a bigger paycheck was not the case when it came to their decision.

“Ocean City has been great, responsive and friendly,” he said. “Every deal with every city that we have ever been to is in exchange for goods and service, so it is a combination of rates for hotel rooms where we stay, permits that we need, and assistance from police and fire, etc. It is a detailed arrangement in exchange for goods and services, and none of that changed as far as the deal that was on the table.”

Stiepock reiterated that Ocean City had nothing to do with the Dew Tour’s decision not to return.

“Ocean City has been a great location to hold the event. We have enjoyed being there. It really is a good fit for the Dew Tour. The city services were always great, and our concerts always ran smooth. The crowd was always responsive and happy to be there,” Stiepock said. “It is just the normal course of action for an event that has been in existence as long as the Dew Tour has to move on to different markets to expose and grow the brand.”

Stiepock concluded that the door has been left open in the Dew Tour conducting business with Ocean City in the future.

In 2013 and 2014 the Town of Ocean City and the Dew Tour signed a basic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that spelled out the different responsibilities of the two parties. Besides the MoU, the two parties held a marketing agreement that also spelled out the different entities responsibilities on the advertising end.

According to Ocean City Tourism Director Donna Abbott, none of the contracts between the Town of Ocean City and the Dew Tour included a clause that had the event remain in Ocean City over a given period of time, let alone have Ocean City remain a permanent stop for the Dew Tour.

Abbott furthered while the economic impact for Ocean City was initially estimated at $6 million that figure has certainly grown over the years along with the growth in attendance.

“The visuals provided money could not buy. From a tourism standpoint this event was worth the cost to the city,” Abbott said. “From a sports marketing standpoint, which we are increasing our attention on, this event served as a marketing tool in itself. The experience of hosting and supporting the Dew Tour carries forward, and that is a value in itself when you are marketing your destination.”

Abbott pointed out between the OC Air Show, conferences and various sporting events the month of June will continue to be busy and bring in revenue despite the loss of the Dew Tour.

“They may not be as visible as to what the public is looking for but in terms of economic impact they will certainly help,” Abbott said. “We hate to see an event leave but we are not going to stop our efforts to attract other events.”

In regards to the downtown water tower that reads “Welcome to Ocean City, Maryland Proud Home of the Dew Tour”, Stiepock stated as of right now there has been no discussions of removing the logo from the water tower. However, there has been mention of the Dew Tour leaving some kind of legacy in downtown Ocean City.

Abbott said the message is becoming weathered, and will eventually have to be updated whether it is with the Dew Tour’s logo or not.

 

Street Performer Issues Likely Main Focus Of Boardwalk Task Force

Spray paint artist Mark Chase, who would like to serve on the new Boardwalk Regulation Task Force, is pictured on the Boardwalk last summer. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – The Town of Ocean City is looking to form a Boardwalk Regulation Task Force that will weigh ongoing issues with street performers on the Boardwalk and make recommendations to the Mayor and City Council about changing local laws.

This week the Mayor and City Council decided to pass forward legislation approving the formation of a task force to study issues regarding Boardwalk regulations.

According to City Manager David Recor, the town’s legal counsel regarding street performers on the Boardwalk is Venable LLP, and its scope of services includes the formation of a task force to study current Boardwalk regulations and make recommendations, as appropriate, in connection with the impact of recent court rulings addressing regulation of the Boardwalk, such as steps that the town has taken to satisfy those court rulings; issues that have arisen as a result of the town’s implementation of those court rulings; the current state of applicable law; and any revisions to the Town Code to address issues relating to the regulation of the Boardwalk.

A draft resolution before the Mayor and City Council on Tuesday afternoon stated, “Ocean City’s Boardwalk is a popular attraction, it is necessary to regulate Boardwalk behavior in order to ensure equal access, public safety and maintenance of a family friendly atmosphere. The laws regulating commerce, performances and noise on the Boardwalk have been the subject of challenges on First Amendment grounds that have resulted in revision of those laws and those revisions in turn have resulted in many issues.”

The Resolution furthers, “the Mayor and City Council are working towards enacting laws regulating conduct on the Boardwalk that will not offend the First Amendment but take into account needs of various constituencies, including the street performers.”

Over the last year, the office of City Solicitor Guy Ayres has conducted about 30 interviews of approximately 30 individuals who were either property owners, store owners or street performers on the Boardwalk.

“As a result of that, it is our recommendation that a task force be formed to conduct public hearings that would be advertised, the public would be involved and the task force would forward a recommendation if any, of any potential changes to ordinances that would affect the street performers on the boardwalk,” Ayres said. “The only recommendation that we have as far as the membership of the task force is no fewer than five members and no more than seven members, and at least one street performer on the task force because they truly know what’s going on up there. From the street performers that we interviewed we thought they had some very good ideas, and I think they would be an integral part of the task force.”

The Mayor and City Council voted unanimously to move the approval of the task force to a legislative session for approval.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Frank Knight approached the council representing the Boardwalk Development Committee of the Ocean City Development Committee requesting a member of the committee serve on the task force.

Boardwalk performer/spray paint artist Mark Chase also came before the Mayor and City Council. Chase initiated a law suit against Ocean City a few years ago and would like to be a member.
“I would like to donate my time to be part of this task force,” Chase said. “I have a lot of valuable information. I will be on the Boardwalk now for six years, so if you guys will have me I would love to be part of it.”

In June 2011, the council passed an ordinance requiring street performers to register at City Hall and pay a nominal fee for the registration. The ordinance also addressed where buskers could perform on the Boardwalk and included language implementing a 30-foot rule for noise associated with the performances.

Almost immediately, the town’s new ordinance was challenged by Chase, who asserted it violated his First Amendment rights. A U.S. District Court judge ultimately sided in large part with Chase on the First Amendment issues. As a result, the federal court ruling allowed street performers and artists to sell or collect money for certain expressive materials but the town prevailed on the location issue, particularly N. Division Street, which provides access for emergency vehicles.

In 2013, a Boardwalk street performer who plays an amplified violin successfully challenged the section of the town’s ordinance regarding noise. A federal judge ruled against the Town of Ocean City in a civil suit that challenged the 30-foot noise ordinance for street performers on the Boardwalk.

Last summer a pole dancer made national news when she repeatedly set up shop on the Boardwalk and collected tips from pedestrians. The recent court ruling prevented the city from being able to limit her shows in any way.

 

Restaurants Step Up To Challenge After Founder’s Death

SoDel Concepts President Scott Kammerer and Controller Lindsey Barry are surrounded by the company’s new management team. Submitted Photo

FENWICK ISLAND – Following its founder’s death last summer, SoDel Concepts has been focusing on serving appealing food, developing talented employees and continuing to support local communities.

SoDel Concepts lost its founder, Matt Haley in August following a motorcycle accident in India. Haley was on a humanitarian endeavor for six weeks through northwestern India and eventually Nepal where he was going to deliver stoves to the village.

SoDel Concepts President Scott Kammerer and Controller Lindsey Barry sat down this week with The Dispatch in Catch 54’s newly renovated lounge to catch up on the direction of the company.

“As a group, there is all kinds of different ways that we can face a challenge, so we decided to take this time to refocus, redefine our mission statement and core values, redefine who we were as a group, and decided to grow internally and support each other,” Kammerer said. “One of the first things as a group was we set up three goals. We decided we wanted to make beautiful simple food. We wanted to support the people that work with us, and we want to give back to the community that we do business and live in.”

SoDel Concepts is a James Beard Award-wining restaurant group, which includes eight restaurants, a catering company and food truck, that has collectively received over 50 Best of Delaware awards.

The SoDel Concepts restaurants include Fish On Bar & Grill in Lewes, Lupo Di Mare Italian Kitchen and Papa Grande’s Coastal Taqueria in Rehoboth, Matt’s Fish Camp and Bluecoast Seafood Grill & Raw Bar in North Bethany, NorthEast Seafood Kitchen in Ocean View, Catch 54 and Papa Grande’s Coastal Taqueria in Fenwick Island.

Plate Catering and Big Thunder Roadside Kitchen operate to all points on the Delmarva peninsula.

“One of the ways we decided to handle the challenge is we looked within, and said ‘Hey, we can support these guys that we have been working with that are smart and talented. What can we do to help them?” Kammerer said.

An example is Mike Zygmonski, who has worked his way up from a bus boy over the past 10 years to become a certified sommelier. He has been promoted recently to SoDel Concepts’ wine director and has taken on the initiative to revamp all restaurant wine lists.

Ronnie Burkle was NorthEast Seafood Kitchen’s chef and was named Best Chef in Sussex County by Coastal Style Magazine last year. He has been promoted to SoDel Concepts’ corporate chef and now oversees four restaurants and the food truck.

“He is another example of taking a young, successful, and talented guy and expanding his role in the organization,” Kammerer said.

Shannon Colburn was promoted to general manager of Bluecoast Seafood Grill & Raw Bar.

“She was a longtime server since day one and when Matt passed away she called us and said ‘I am ready to take a bigger role. I want to have a say in the company. I want to have a say in what we do, and I want to create a better experience,’” Kammerer said.

The same applies to Catch 54 General Manager Lauren Bohager.

“She is a long-time employee, and assistant manager who made a commitment. She said she believed in what we are doing, and believed in the company and wanted to help it be great,” Kammerer said.

Phil Blush, general manager of Papa Grandes in Fenwick, and Kris Medford, general manager of NorthEast Seafood Kitchen, are also two long-time SoDel Concepts employees that decided to commit even further to the company.

SoDel Concepts instituted a new gardening program and promoted Chris Wertz, who has a degree in horticulture, to design and grow all of the restaurants gardens.

“He works with chefs and plants herbs and peppers that the chefs can use in their dishes all summer,” Kammerer said.

Kammerer recognized Haley’s death left the company with a huge void to fill when it comes to continuing to support local as well as international organizations, which is where several employees stepped up to the plate.

SoDel Concept’s original corporate chef, Doug Ruley, who now serves as vice president, is carrying on the company’s relationship with the James Beard House, among other organizations.

Ruley cooked at an event at James Beard House this week and coming up he will also be participating with Hearts Delight in Washington DC, and will be the honorary chef at a Peninsula Regional Medical Center gala.

“Those are all things that when Matt Haley passed away that Doug rose to the occasion and is representing our company very well,” Kammerer said.

For her part, Comptroller Barry is now spearheading and taken on the role of supporting local organizations, such as Meals on Wheels in Rehoboth.

“Right around the time Matt died as a company we signed on with Meals on Wheels of Rehoboth that cooks 300 meals a day for homebound senior citizens in Rehoboth, Dewey and Lewes,” Kammerer said.

Barry furthered Meals on Wheels in Rehoboth had lost its previous provider, and Haley had expressed an interest in partnering with the organization but never had the opportunity to iron out the details.

“We made sure that we continued with that,” she said. “Matt was the face of the company, so it was important when he died to let everybody know we will continue as a group and remain to be who we are.”

Prior to his death, Haley played a large role with the Freeman Stage, an open air performing arts venue located near Fenwick Island. It is a program of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and presents diverse programming in the genres of dance, live music, theatre and children’s programming.

Kammerer took it upon himself to fill Haley’s seat on the Freeman Stage Board of Directors for the rest of the term as well as on the Governor’s Task Force for Early Education.

Burkle has also filled Haley’s seat on the Delaware Botanic Garden Board of Directors.

“It wouldn’t have been possible for a company of this size with such a big loss if it wasn’t for all these people stepping up,” Kammerer said. “They are all in now. All these people rose to the challenge.”

The company has started many other initiatives in making SoDel Concepts the best it has ever been, such as remodeling Catch 54, Bluecoast, Lupo Di Mare and Matt’s Fish Camp in the past three months.

Additionally, it has developed a new website, www.sodelconcepts.com, and grown its Facebook likes by 5,000 combined. The company hired a new marketing director, Nelia Dolan, who is a long-time Delaware restaurateur.

Monthly, SoDel Concepts puts on 15 wine and cooking demos, and SoDel Film produces a short clip exhibiting all the happenings of the restaurants.

Matt’s Homemade Sodas line has continued to grow with the newest addition of a Blood Orange and Sage flavor that came out for the winter of 2015.

“We bottle it, label it and cap it to serve in the restaurants,” Kammerer said.

The company has also expanded on its nightly specials, happy hour menus and special events.

“We went to every employee and asked what they would like to do in giving back to the community and to create a better experience,” Kammerer said.

Kammerer concluded prior to Haley’s death the company had executed five-, 10- and 15-year long-term plans.

“All those plans are in place and those things won’t change. His [Haley’s vision helped create those plans, so we feel like as employees we are in pretty good shape as a company,” he said.

According to Kammerer, SoDel Concepts is in process of opening a new restaurant location in the beginning of this year in downtown Rehoboth and a new restaurant location in the beginning of 2016 to be located in either mid-town Ocean City or West Ocean City. While SoDel Concepts already consults many restaurants in both Maryland and Delaware, an Ocean City location will be a first restaurant location in Maryland.

“Matt and I were best friends and business partners for over a decade … I am influenced by what he wanted and how he wanted things. I will honor that even after his death. I will honor his passion, his vision and this company. It is a big responsibility but I am stewarding this company into the future, and that’s how I see it,” Kammerer said.

 

 

 

Bayfront Resident Granted Wind Turbine Conditional Use Five Years After Initial Proposal

19191551

OCEAN CITY – Five years later, the first ground-mounted monopole base wind turbine is approved for installation in Ocean City.

Last Tuesday evening, the Planning and Zoning Commission held a subsequent public hearing to consider Ocean City resident James Motsko’s request for a Conditional Use in the R-2 Medium Residential District to permit installation of one ground-mounted small wind turbine in the area of 6th Street on the bayside.

In early October, a public hearing was held before the commission regarding the installation of the wind turbine but the hearing was postponed to provide an opportunity for Motsko’s engineer to be in attendance to address noise concerns. At that time, the commission also requested a private noise reading be conducted.

Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith acknowledged Motsko’s request is the first for a monopole base wind turbine within the limits of Ocean City, and he is “the author of bringing wind turbines into Ocean City” as he has been working on this matter since 2009.

Upon Motsko’s request, in 2009 the council passed an ordinance allowing wind turbines in Ocean City based on a Conditional Use permit.

The original ordinance stated, “the base of the tower shall be set back from all adjacent property lines, public right-of-way, and public utility lines a distance equal to 1.1 times the total height. A turbine may be located closer to a property line if the abutting property owner grants appropriate easements.”

An issue arose when Motsko requested to install the wind turbine on the waterline of his property, resulting in approval being needed from the Maryland Department of Environment, and it was discovered the regulatory agency did not grant easements but would grant permission.

The ordinance was then amended to state, “Properties located on open waterfront may locate a turbine closer to the shoreline provided they obtain approval from appropriate regulatory agencies.”

Ocean City’s Code regarding small wind energy systems also includes no specific height limitation, except as may be imposed by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, as long as the total height meets setback requirements; sound produced by the system under normal operating conditions, as measured at the property line, shall not exceed 55 dBA. The sound level may be exceeded during short-term events such as utility outages and/or severe windstorms; and no illumination of the system shall be permitted unless required by the FAA or unless the tower is also used for street or parking lot lighting, or some similar compatible use.

Although there were no public speakers in opposition during the public hearing last week, several emails were submitted stating concerns over the level of noise the small wind turbine would generate.

A series of emails was submitted by Motsko’s neighbor, John Cronin of The Islander Condos, who argued the proposed wind turbine will greatly exceed the noise requirements.

“Town ordinance states that noise levels shall not exceed 55 dBA. Noise levels may exceed 55 dBA under conditions of severe windstorms. A severe windstorm is defined by the National Weather Service as wind speeds of 57 mph and above. The proposed wind turbine exceeds 55 dBA at wind speeds as low as 18 mph, according to data provided by the manufacturer itself. The noise clearly is in violation of the applicable ordinance. There is no question about this,” the email read.

On Nov. 18, Sgt. Mark Paddack of the Ocean City Police Department per request of the commission conducted a noise meter reading of an existing small wind turbine located outside of the corporate limits of Ocean City owned by Monty Lewis on the Isle of Wight Bay.

Motsko and his engineer, Stacey Hart of J. Stacey Hart & Associates, Inc., attended the meter reading and were in attendance for the public hearing.

According to the report, Hart measured an exact distance of 50 feet from the wind turbine to a point which would serve as an imaginary property line as if on Motsko’s property. Paddack was slightly up wind from the turbine during the first test.  Then Paddack moved slightly down wind and to the south 50 feet from the wind turbine.

The NOAA weather monitoring station located at the Ocean City Municipal Airport reported for Nov. 18 wind gusting was 13 to 28 mph. Paddack believed these conditions were exceptional for testing, but the higher level wind gusts caused leaves and tree limbs to create some additional ambient noise in the area.

Paddack conducted a series of test samples of noise emanating from the wind turbine. Based on the readings, Paddack found the wind turbine complied with the noise ordinance during day hours as define by American National Standards institute (ANSI).

The same readings during the night time hours would place the wind turbine in compliance of the noise ordinance as defined by ANSI with the exception of higher wind speed gusts of post 28 mph.

The low tone swishing sound of the three blades at 28 mph winds pushed the max to 59 dbs.  However, at this wind speed level or greater, there is an overall increase in the ambient noise from the wind not just the three blades of the turbine. Therefore, overall noise from higher gusting winds would overshadow some of the swishing sound of the blades.

At this time, Motsko made the suggestion on filling the tower of the wind turbine with foam insulation to reduce the low tone humming sound, which was present during the testing and below the ANSI standard.

Hart added the manufacturer, XZERES, has a feature that prevents the blades from spinning too fast during high winds because they could damage the wind turbine.

“What happens with these wind turbines is if you get a really high wind the system actually shuts down and the blades will lock,” Hart said during the public hearing. “I don’t think you are going to hear the 55 dBA at night. Typically the winds die down at night, and most of the winds come in during the winter time and there is nobody at this building [Islander] in the winter time.”

Motsko furthered data reflects a 15-percent in reduction in noise when the pole is insulated.

The public hearing was closed and the commission began deliberation.

Commission member Peck Miller pointed out if the police department received a noise complaint over the turbine an officer will respond to take a reading and if the reading is 55 dBA or over the turbine becomes non-compliant and the usage will come to a stop.

“If the public has a problem, we have a process to take care of that,” he said.

Miller made a motion to grant the Conditional Use permit based on the wind turbine pole being insulated, and Motsko being a good neighbor by following the regulations set forth by the town.

“I have seen Monty’s pole in action many times, and I think it is a quiet efficient energy use. I would understand the Islander’s concerns over esthetics and the fear of lighting but as Peck stated there is a process for noise and recourse,” Commission member Chris Shanahan said.

Commission member Lauren Taylor added the reality is the Islander is vacant nine months out of the year.

“If we were having a major storm or weather event, it wouldn’t be occupied. As the motion states, it will be an insulated pole and he will have to make sure he is in compliance, I think that is perfectly reasonable,” she said.

The commission voted 5-0 to approve the Conditional Use permit for Motsko to install the ground-mounted small wind turbine with members Pam Buckley and John Staley absent.

Motsko is a well-known name in Ocean City as he and his family members organize the White Marlin Open each August.

Ocean City Surf Club Proposes Adopt-Your-Beach Program For 2015

The Ocean City Surf Club has proposed an Adopt-Your-Beach Program that will be further evaluated next year. Pictured is a sign that is used a similar program in California.

OCEAN CITY – The new year may bring the opportunity to adopt your own beach in Ocean City in exchange for four dedicated clean-ups a year.

During the Dec. 8 Police Commission meeting, Terry Steimer of the Ocean City Surf Club (OCSC) proposed an Adopt-Your-Beach Program.

Steimer submitted the OCSC is a grass roots 501c(3) organization fueled by volunteers focused on protecting and maintaining Ocean City’s beaches, and the Adopt-Your-Beach program has evolved from this idea.

“The reason for this is two-fold. One is I have run the ‘Leave Only Your Footprints’ campaign for the last eight years. It is a great campaign. It took off and did well but after eight years I think it has gotten stale, so this is a new initiative that is good for the town, good for us [OCSC], and it is good for the people who use the beach,” Steimer said. “Two is, I grew up here and I see when families come here they use the same beach over and over. They raise their family on the same beach for generations … because that is the beach they are used to coming to.”

The Adopt-Your-Beach program is a beach clean-up effort utilizing volunteers that would be monitored by an Adopt-Your-Beach Committee. All debris found would be recorded by provided forms, so that data can be collected on the types of trash being found in certain areas of the beach.

For a $200 donation to OCSC, one to three blocks of beach can be adopted by individuals, businesses and groups who will clean their area of the beach at least four times a year. Ideally the group will also conduct additional beach clean-ups as the need arises. This is an opportunity for them to be vested in their beach.

The $200 donation will cover costs for trash bags provided to the “adoptees”, as well as signage that will display the adoptees name and t-shirts.

However, Steimer stressed the program is not an advertising opportunity. It is only for those who are serious about keeping their beach clean.

“We will stress they must be sensitive to the dunes as they are a protected area with no individual allowed on the dunes without the permission of the Mayor and City County. We will coordinate our efforts with the dune clean-up group taking care of the dunes at the present time,” the proposal stated.

Police Commission Chair and Councilman Doug Cymek asked what kind of debris will be targeted for pick-up and during what time periods.

Steimer, who works on the Department of Public Works beach cleaning crew, acknowledged city staff keeps the beach in pristine condition but there is always some kind of trash that gets left behind, such as cigarette butts and bottle caps, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a helping hand. Also the volunteers can clean the beach all year-round as long as it’s on four separate occasions.

Mayor Rick Meehan expressed concern over letting the “Leave Only Your Footprints” campaign go to the wayside.

“That [Leave Only Your Footprints] is a daily reminder to everybody to pick up after themselves, so I don’t think you want to abandon that but to have a volunteer program such as this [Adopt-Your-Beach] could be a good thing,” the mayor said.

Meehan also raised concern over the new program getting lost in the new smoke-free initiative that is likely to hit Ocean City’s beaches this summer. The council is scheduled to consider the specifics of an ordinance eliminating cigarettes from the beach and potentially the Boardwalk after the New Year.

“We are doing the smoke-free beach initiative this year and that in itself is going to require a lot of new signage and education … I don’t want this to get lost in the shuffle,” the mayor said.

Cymek agreed.

“It might be beneficial for you to put it off a year, so it gives you your own thunder kicking this program off. That is what you’re going to need to get people to buy into this,” he said.

Public Works Deputy Director John VanFossen pointed out currently the town cleans the beaches every night during the summer season and as calls are received in the off-season to remove debris.

VanFossen stated it could be beneficial to include the dune area and recommended the program be intertwined with the Dune Committee.

“If they go out in the middle of the summer when the beach is packed with people … I picture them more towards the west side of the beach cleaning closer to the dune. I think they would be best suited to clean the dunes, the heads of the streets, the dune crossings, before they actually get on the beach may be more effective,” he said. “The idea we think is good. It is just initiating it and putting it all together.”

Meehan didn’t want to see the commission over think the proposed initiative.

“I think it is a great volunteer program,” the mayor said, as he recommended Steimer look to the Delmarva Condominium Managers Association for a start in enlisting. “That may be a great way to start this program and get people involved. My only thought is maybe get it a little bit more organized and wait until after the smoke-free initiative because you don’t want to get them confused.”

The commission is looking forward to having Steimer return this summer with a more refined plan and for possible implementation of the Adopt-Your-Beach program in the fall season.