Tighter Rules Proposed For OC Street Performers; Rotating Schedule Eyed For Congested Areas

Tighter

OCEAN CITY – With the Boardwalk Task Force’s recommendations regarding street performers in hand, the Mayor and City Council will next meet with the town’s First Amendment counsel to discuss how strict the changes can be without breaking the law.

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 diversify from spray paint fumes to costumed characters to a pole dancer. However, court rulings in recent years protecting street performer’s First Amendment rights have prevented the town from strictly regulating the acts on the Boardwalk.

In the beginning of the year, the Boardwalk Task Force was created to specifically look into these concerns. Membership consisted of 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.

After two public hearings, the Task Force’s recommendations were submitted to the Mayor and City Council this week. The council heard City Solicitor Guy Ayres’s response to those recommendations. Ayres explained his comments were in reference to the legality of the recommendations and advised the council meet with the town’s legal counsel specializing in First Amendment rights, Venable, prior to passing a draft ordinance.

The recommendation started off recommending the town adopt definitions to differentiate “expressive material,” “performer” and “vendor.”

During a hearing, Ocean City Police Department Lt. Mark Pacini, who has patrolled the Boardwalk since 1989, explained the recent court rulings eliminated the town’s requirement for performers to obtain a permit from City Hall to perform on the Boardwalk. The courts have also granted performers permission to sell their expressive material on the Boardwalk.

Pacini furthered determining whether a performer’s ware is expressive material or retail has become cumbersome due to the town’s ordinance not being specific with a definition of each. All performer requests to sell their wares are filtered through City 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.

The recommended definitions are as follows:

“Expressive material means newspapers, periodicals, books, pamphlets or other similar written material; it also includes cassette tapes, compact discs, digital video disks, paintings on paper or fabric, photographs, sculpture and prints that have been created or composed by the vendor. The sale of these items will be permitted on the Boardwalk at locations permitted under the terms of this ordinance. The sale of any other item will not be permitted on the Boardwalk. Expressive material shall not include the application of substances to others’ skin, including but not limited to paints, dyes and inks.”

Also, “Performers will be permitted to perform on the Boardwalk at locations permitted under the terms of this ordinance. The terms perform, performing and performance … mean to engage in playing a musical instrument, singing, dancing,   acting,  pantomiming,   puppeteering,  juggling, engaging in magic, presenting or enacting a play, work of art, physical or mental feat or creating visual art. Indicia  of  a  ‘performance’  or  ‘performer’ are  seeking  and/or  accepting voluntary  contributions  through  any means,  including passing  around  a hat  or leaving open an instrument case or other receptacle, soliciting, and/or accepting, directly or indirectly, donations after a performance, attempting to draw attention, convene an audience and/or engage onlookers as spectators or participants in a ‘performance.’ Individuals, who dress in a costume, pose for photographs and solicit or accept gratuities will be deemed performers and are subject to the rules and regulations pertaining to performers.”

During the hearings, the Task Force heard from many Boardwalk business owners who voiced concerns over their business fronts being blocked by street performer crowds, as well as the repetition of performers as they set up at the same location each night. Many recommended a rotating schedule or lottery system that would designate performers to specific locations.

The Task Force recommended implementing a rotating schedule for the most congested area of the Boardwalk between S. 1st and 9th streets where designating spaces will be identified at street ends. Street ends north of 9th Street will not have designated spaces and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Between S. 1st and 9th streets, less than three 100 square feet of marked spaces will be provided. Those spaces will be made available for selection twice a week, Monday and Friday, at Town Hall on a first-come, first-serve basis. All selections will occur at least one week in advance. To ensure a rotating system, performers cannot elect to be in the same space in one week.

Upon registering for a space, a description of the nature and scope of the activity will have to be provided for the town official responsible in assigning the space to determine that person will be engaging in a permitted expressive activity.

As well as, those registering should provide proof of insurance for an amount determined by the Mayor and City Council, as well as have the insurance contain a “hold harmless clause” with respect to the town.

“Neither the Supreme Court nor the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has discussed the constitutionality of an insurance requirement in the context of First Amendment protected expressive activity such as street performing or vending. Other circuits, however, have addressed such a requirement with regards to another type of protected First Amendment activity, namely the right to assemble,” Ayres stated in his report to the council. “In the case of Ocean City, there is no evidence to support the need for insurance and the requirement may be unconstitutional.”

The Task Force recommended that people selecting and using a space should not be permitted to rope off or demarcate the spaces in any way.

“Task Force member Mark Chase proposed an amendment that would have allowed roping off of the space by the person to whom it is assigned. That amendment was defeated. This issue does not present Constitutional concerns and, therefore, is up to the City Council to decide,” Ayres stated.

The recommendation also includes a performer cannot leave equipment or props unattended for more than 15 minutes, and those who have selected spaces can only use that space between 10 a.m. and 12 a.m. during the week, and between 10 a.m. and 1 a.m. on the weekends. However, sound or music cannot be amplified after 11 p.m. every day.

Performers are prohibited from physically affixing props to the Boardwalk surface and that performers cannot use higher than four feet.

“Those limitations are necessary to prevent aesthetic blight, are similar to restrictions that merchants must observe and have been upheld by courts as reasonable time, place and manner restrictions in other jurisdictions,” Ayres said.

The Task Force had also heard testimony from the Fire Marshal’s Office citing concerns over the use of generators on the Boardwalk for reasons of both noise and safety. The Task Force recommended generators be banned.

“The Draft Ordinance will not ban the use of generators completely, however. … the Draft Ordinance will state expressly that it does not intend to prohibit the use of solar panels or batteries to generate electricity,” Ayres stated.

Testimony heard by Ocean City Beach Patrol Lt. Ward Kovacs, who has worked with the OCBP for 33 years, explained a main emergency access point to the beach and boardwalk besides N. Division Street, which is currently off limits to street performers, is Dorchester Street where beach patrol’s headquarters is located and becomes blocked by street performer crowds.

The Task Force recommended closing Dorchester Street to street performers and vendors due to Kovacs’ testimony but also took it further by recommending the town prohibit all expressive activity at each “at-grade” intersection along the Boardwalk, which would include nine out of the 18 remaining street ends available outside of the locations between S. 1st to 9th streets.

“The Task Force’s recommendation that additional street ends be available to the emergency response units does not appear to take into account the state highway proscription, which arguably nullifies any intended additional benefit to the Beach Patrol emergency vehicles,” Ayres stated.

The Task Force also recommended the town prohibit performers from using the Caroline Street Comfort Station and Stage, which is referred to as the “amphitheater.” Ayres disagreed with that.

“… as long as the town clearly informs visitors that it is not affiliated with the performers, the town should encourage and promote use of the Caroline Street Amphitheater by street performers,” Ayres said.

Ayres concluded the Draft Ordinance will solve many of the existing problems on the Boardwalk only if it is enforced.

“Police will enforce the ordinance only if the City Council explicitly directs them to do so, empowers them to apply the new law equitably to brick and mortar merchants as well as to street performers, and grants them authority to issue citations or otherwise penalize anyone who fails to follow police directives,” he stated.

The council was in consensus to meet with Venable before voting on the draft ordinance in first and second reading. However, prior to that meeting, council members aired their own opinions on a few of the recommendations.

Council Secretary Mary Knight was concerned over permitting three locations at every street end between S. 1st and 9th streets as each street is different. She wanted to add if the town official responsible for assigning performer locations is unsure he or she should defer to Ayres. She also felt that closing nine out of the 18 street ends north of 9th Street is too restrictive and that the recommendation of not allowing amplifying sound after 11 p.m. wasn’t restrictive enough.

“I have extreme concern over allowing the use of Caroline Street Stage, since there is not a recommendation for insurance my concern is they use the stage the city will look like they endorse certain performers over others, so I would like to see the amphitheater not be available to street performers,” Knight said.

However, Knight is in favor of the rotating assignment of spaces that could become an automated system once performers start to register, and their locations can easily be posted on the town’s website or at City Hall.

“I like the idea of the rope as it helps delineate the crowd but what gives me a pause is having the rope or props set up first thing in the morning to help save a spot all day for an evening performance. The proposal for an assignment would solve that issue,” Councilman Dennis Dare said. “When we sit down to talk about this, I would like to see a layout of what spaces will look like. One hundred square feet can be 10 feet by 10 feet or one foot by 100 feet and that makes a big difference.”

City Engineer Terry McGean had drafted potential street performer locations at street ends between S. 1st and 9th streets. Preliminary locations include three 10 foot by 10 foot spaces on S. 1st Street, one location near the Pier Building, four locations on Somerset Street and no locations on N. Division and Dorchester streets.

“Once past N. Division the Boardwalk changes because there is no bump outs onto the street ends,” McGean said. “Fourth Street is difficult because that is where the tram makes the turn from the concrete pad onto the wooden boardwalk, and it is a congested area.”

Councilman Lloyd Martin opined, “I agree we need to meet with Venable to present questions in making sure we are doing this right.”

The Council asked Ayres to set a meeting up with Venable on Monday prior to their legislative session.

 

Ocean City Leaning Away From Double-Decker Buses; Officials Favor Articulating Buses

Ocean City Leaning

OCEAN CITY – After hearing a list of issues that would come along with adding double decker buses to Ocean City’s fleet, the Transportation Commission voted this week to recommend the purchase of 60-foot articulating buses instead.

A few months ago, the Transportation Commission began discussions regarding new bus purchases to meet the goal of increasing capacity and lessening drivers due to the issue of filling bus driver positions.

Public Works Director Hal Adkins explained in Fiscal Year 2014 (FY 14), the Town of Ocean City was awarded a grant in the amount of $1,362,000 to purchase three, 40-foot diesel buses, and the same was awarded in FY 15 totaling $2,724,000 with a local match of 10 percent. The estimated cost for a 40-foot diesel bus is $425,000 that seats 35 with 18 standees. A 60-foot diesel artic bus is about $700,000 that seats 63 with 31 standees. The question arose if the left over funds from FY 14 can turn over to FY 15 to purchase artic buses instead as well as if the town could lease the artic buses for the summer months.

Last month Transportation Superintedent George Thornes stated

FY 14 funds can be rolled over to FY 15 to purchase two 60-foot artic buses but Thornes explained a five-year proposal should be formed for the MTA to plan into the future. Also, since there are only two artic bus manufacturers left in the country the option to lease artic buses is not in the picture.

Councilman Dennis Dare brought up the idea of adding double decker buses to Ocean City’s fleet.

“The concept of having more capacity and fewer drivers are the way we have to go. There is another alternative to the artic, I don’t know if it works for us or not, but there is a lot of modern double decker buses out there now where we wouldn’t have problem with the number of drivers…they are less expensive but the concern is the people on the second deck are not being monitored by the driver but then again they can’t monitor the back of the artic bus either,” Dare said at that time.

This week the Transportation Commission reconvened to come to a decision on bus purchases. Risk Manager Eric Langstrom, Police Captain Kevin Kirstein and Fleet Manager Ron Eckman voiced their opinion on double decker buses.

“Initially my concern is, if you have a double decker whether it is open or enclosed you have guests on the second floor and how are we going to monitor their action,” Langstrom said. “Also, there is the problem of ascending and descending the stairwells, and there would be the issue of people tripping and falling, etc.”

Langstrom furthered low hanging wires, the position of utility poles on corners where the double decker will be making turns and building overhangs on the transit stations would have to be reviewed.

“You can’t see people on the second floor of the double decker bus but you also can’t see people in the rear of a artic bus, but at least they’re all on one floor and the driver can hear and be aware of what is going on in the back,” he said. “In the years that we have had the artic buses, we haven’t had any major issues.”

Kirstein acknowledged there are pros to double decker buses, such as the capacity of passengers compared to the number of drivers.

“There is going to be a novelty factor that could increase ridership, and it would decrease over-crowding, which we believe causes some of the disorderly and assaulted behaviors,” he said. “On the con side, the bus driver would not be able to easily monitor the second level without diverting his attention from the driving. You could put a camera up there but still it’s distracting.”

Kirstein pointed out it would take hiring driver assistants to monitor the second floor.

“We would also recommend there are two different types — enclosed and open — and we would very much recommend against the open top because you can only imagine the behavior that would go on upstairs; bus surfing, jumping and throwing things,” he said.

According to Eckman, storing and servicing double decker buses at the Public Works Complex will be a challenge as the vehicle would just barley fit into the shop and could only be lifted 2.5 feet off the ground before hitting the ceiling. Other issues include training to service a double decker bus, fitting the vehicle under the awning at the present fuel station and towing in the event of a malfunction.

Councilman Tony DeLuca pointed out an artic’s capacity is 120 versus the capacity of a double decker is 83 as well as an artic costs $700,000 and a double decker costs $825,000.

“I think the artic is the way to go,” Council Secretary Mary Knight said.

The remainder of the commission was in consensus.

“Double deckers are cool but I am over it, the facts are clear,” DeLuca said.

Knight made a motion to recommend to the council to have a RFP drafted for the purchase of three, 40-foot buses to be purchased by the FY14 grant and two artic buses to be purchased by FY15 grant funds. The commission voted unanimously to approve. The purchase would be on schedule to have those buses in service by summer 2016.

 

City Council Amends Taxi Ordinance To Cover Uber

OCEAN CITY – The town is looking to recently passed state regulations to ease concerns when it comes to Uber and similar companies in Ocean City.

For several months, amendments to the town’s ordinance regarding taxicab regulations have been before the Police Commission prior to being forwarded to the Mayor and City Council for final approval. Additionally, discussions have been held on if the car service Uber comes to Ocean City and how the town can regulate it to where it won’t affect the local taxicab industry.

Ocean City’s taxicab law allows for a total of 175 taxicab medallions in the city limits — up to 85 percent issued to fleet holders and up to 15 percent issued to independent holders. Currently, all medallions are owned by holders and fleets and are sold between them. Most recently a medallion sold for over $7,000.

The ordinance requires medallion holders to have their vehicles inspected annually, operate by meter, proof of insurance, hold a business license and drivers must obtain a permit as well as are subject to background checks and drug tests.

Uber, a smart-phone enabled car service, has hit the streets in over 200 cities nationwide. A smart-phone app links a passenger to an Uber driver. The app provides many user-friendly features including fare estimations and the option to share a fare but since the company’s inception in 2009, Uber has met resistance from local, state and national governments usually backed by a frustrated taxi industry.

When discussions first began in February, City Solicitor Guy Ayres explained Uber had gone unregulated for years and was in the process of working with the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) in becoming regulated due to frustrations that arose among the Baltimore taxi industry.

With the talk of Uber moving to the forefront, The Dispatch reached out to the company questioning its arrival in Ocean City. At that time, Uber representative Kaitlin Durkosh reported the company currently does not have any immediate plans to expand to Ocean City.

The ordinance before the Mayor and City Council on Monday evening listed a number changes to the taxicab regulations, including a $50 replacement fee for a lost or stolen medallion, verbiage making it unlawful to charge a cleaning fee to a passenger in excess of $150, changing the annual taxicab inspection decal expiration date from March 31 of each year to April 30 and instituting a fee structure for vehicles inspected after April 30, assessing a fee of $7.50 if the owner fails to timely notify the taxi driver of a drug screening request and, if not paid, the owner’s medallion shall not be renewed.

It also adds provisions for voluntary deactivation and reactivation of taxi driver licenses if driver is unavailable for random drug testing for more than two weeks and a provision for suspension or revocation of taxi drivers permit if the Chief of Police determines a violation constitutes a hazard to public safety as well as adds suspension and revocation measures based on conviction of felony or other offenses and outlines an appeal process.

In addition, language will be added under “Transportation Network Services,” referencing the assessment of a 25-cent fee for each trip generated by a Network Service company commencing on July 1, as outlined in the Annotated Code of Maryland, Public Utilities Article.

“A transportation network service you may probably know goes by the popular name of Uber. This would appeal to those type of vehicle for hire that the Public Utilities will be regulating, and they regulate them as limousines,” Solicitor Guy Ayres said.

The General Assembly approved this year legislation giving Uber and other app-based car services permanent legal status in Maryland. The bill, which is now heading to governor for approval, creates a separate “transportation network services” category for Uber and similar services, so that they would not be classified under the state’s definition of “common carriers” like taxis and limo services.

Uber would have to register with the PSC, conduct background checks on drivers, and maintain at least $1 million in liability insurance, which is similar to what the Town of Ocean City already requires of local cabs.

“I expected the place [council chambers] to be packed with our medallion holders, and expecting to hear comments from them over what is happening. Not seeing them here and not getting their input sends a message,” Councilman Wayne Hartman said

Councilman Doug Cymek, who serves as the chair of the Police Commission, said he recently had a lengthy discussion with George Basle, owner of Taxi Taxi in Ocean City, who is familiar with the legislature regarding Uber.

“After talking through, it he has confidence in our system, and wants to move ahead with the changes,” Cymek said. “Most people don’t believe Uber is going to be a force to be reckoned with. They will find this is a market that is not as lucrative as Baltimore or Washington [D.C.].”

The council voted 6-0, with Council President Lloyd Martin absent, to approve the ordinance on first reading.

 

Planet Maze Eyes 20th Anniversary Party On May 2

Planet Maze

OCEAN CITY – Planet Maze is celebrating its 20th anniversary of providing family-friendly fun for all ages in Ocean City.

Planet Maze, owned by the Thaler, Albright and Gordon families, is an interactive amusement facility located on 33rd Street and Coastal Highway that offers Lost Galaxy Golf, Lasertron, a climbing wall and maze, arcade, youth and adult parties and team building excursions.

“We all had toddlers and we wanted a place for them to play. Back then there were not a lot places, especially in the winter time or on a rainy day, to have birthday parties. We were looking for a place that could be open year-round that would support young families like ours as well as for families who come to Ocean City as an added attraction,” Rina Thaler said. “The great thing about this place is by having the different attractions we cater to families of all ages. Adults and teens love the laser tag, while the younger children can play in the maze and everybody can play golf. It makes a complete experience.”

At that time, the facility included an outdoor and 650-square-foot indoor climbing maze, snack bar, arcade and a 2,000-square-foot indoor laser tag arena, Laser Storm, which was the largest in Maryland at that time.

Planet Maze has grown over time. In 1998, the building was expanded to provide a larger laser tag arena

Planet Maze co-owners Jamie Albright and Rina Thaler stand outside their 33rd Street business, which marks its 20th Anniversary next month with a special celebration day. Photo by Joanne Shriner

Planet Maze co-owners Jamie Albright and Rina Thaler stand outside their 33rd Street business, which marks its 20th Anniversary next month with a special celebration day. Photo by Joanne Shriner

and a second story for party rooms. Around 2003, the outdoor climbing maze was transformed into the Lost Galaxy Miniature Golf, and in 2010 Laser Storm was converted to Lasertron, a more accurate, intuitive laser tag system that better tracks hits and even has a deflection mode, allowing less accurate shots to ricochet.

This past year the mini golf was updated and this week the laser tag was being modernized with new score boards, LED lighting and TVs looking into the arena.

Planet Maze is always keeping up with up-to-date technology and equipment by upgrading and modernizing.

The laser tag is a capture the flag concept where players prepare in a “ready room” by suiting up and watching an instructional video. Upon entering into the area there are several different interactive elements such as each team has a rechargeable home base as players run through the course where there is LED lighting, music and fog going off.

Planet Maze is a member of the www.ocfamilydiscountfun.com community, a must for any visiting family and a favorite for local school fundraisers and athletic teams. Over the years, they have sponsored several youth programs, such as indoor soccer and summer sports camps, as well as supplied coupons for thousands of campers.

Al “Hondo” Handy, an activity specialist with the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department, said, “Planet Maze has played a valuable role in Ocean City’s Play It Safe Project for high school graduates held every June. In the last 13 years, 140,889 graduates have had the opportunity to participate in the activities and Planet Maze has always been a favorite.”

Thaler added Planet Maze is known for hosting a variety of parties, especially birthday parties.

“Being that we are the party place we are having a big party for our 20th Anniversary,” she said.

Join Planet Maze on Saturday, May 2, from noon-2 p.m. for a birthday party commemorating its 20th anniversary, featuring complimentary laser tag (ages 8 & up), climbing maze (ages 10 & under), and mini golf (all ages). Pizza, cake and soda will be served as well as door prizes and giveaways.

“The most important thing is the community has been very supportive of us over the past 20 years and we are very appreciative. Come by on May 2 so we can thank you,” Jamie Albright said. “We are very proud being family owned and operated and still in business but it has been a community effort.”

In celebrating their 20th anniversary, Planet Maze is holding contests to offer free fun.

From now until the end of the year, submit photos of favorite past and present memories at Planet Maze. The grand prize winner will be selected by the public in December and will receive an Apple® iPad® sponsored by Comcast Spotlight, a free year of play, and the photo will be used in Planet Maze advertising.

Additionally, customers can enter into a drawing during every visit to Planet Maze, and weekly winners are selected at random and receive one full day of free admission.

Visit www.planetmaze.com for more information.

In 1995, Thaler and Albright did not imagine Planet Maze being where it is today. Their children have grown, and the operation is still in action.

“It is just fun,” Thaler said. “We are here to provide a fun-clean-safe experience for residents and visitors alike. It’s an added attraction for Ocean City. We have taken it a step further being all very committed to this community. Watching people come in here and have so much fun while they are here, that keeps us going.”

Thaler and Albright added it couldn’t have been done without Planet Maze’s staff throughout the years who have all become one big family.

“It is good local people here,” she said of the growing community. “We are moving forward for another 20 years.”

Ocean City Leaning Away From Double-Decker Buses; Officials Favor Purchasing Articulating Buses

File Photo

OCEAN CITY – After hearing a list of issues that would come along with adding double decker buses to Ocean City’s fleet, the Transportation Commission voted this week to recommend the purchase of 60-foot articulating buses instead.

A few months ago, the Transportation Commission began discussions regarding new bus purchases to meet the goal of increasing capacity and lessening drivers due to the issue of filling bus driver positions.

Public Works Director Hal Adkins explained in Fiscal Year 2014 (FY 14), the Town of Ocean City was awarded a grant in the amount of $1,362,000 to purchase three, 40-foot diesel buses, and the same was awarded in FY 15 totaling $2,724,000 with a local match of 10 percent. The estimated cost for a 40-foot diesel bus is $425,000 that seats 35 with 18 standees. A 60-foot diesel artic bus is about $700,000 that seats 63 with 31 standees. The question arose if the left over funds from FY 14 can turn over to FY 15 to purchase artic buses instead as well as if the town could lease the artic buses for the summer months.

Last month Transportation Superintedent George Thornes stated

FY 14 funds can be rolled over to FY 15 to purchase two 60-foot artic buses but Thornes explained a five-year proposal should be formed for the MTA to plan into the future. Also, since there are only two artic bus manufacturers left in the country the option to lease artic buses is not in the picture.

Councilman Dennis Dare brought up the idea of adding double decker buses to Ocean City’s fleet.

“The concept of having more capacity and fewer drivers are the way we have to go. There is another alternative to the artic, I don’t know if it works for us or not, but there is a lot of modern double decker buses out there now where we wouldn’t have problem with the number of drivers…they are less expensive but the concern is the people on the second deck are not being monitored by the driver but then again they can’t monitor the back of the artic bus either,” Dare said at that time.

This week the Transportation Commission reconvened to come to a decision on bus purchases. Risk Manager Eric Langstrom, Police Captain Kevin Kirstein and Fleet Manager Ron Eckman voiced their opinion on double decker buses.

“Initially my concern is, if you have a double decker whether it is open or enclosed you have guests on the second floor and how are we going to monitor their action,” Langstrom said. “Also, there is the problem of ascending and descending the stairwells, and there would be the issue of people tripping and falling, etc.”

Langstrom furthered low hanging wires, the position of utility poles on corners where the double decker will be making turns and building overhangs on the transit stations would have to be reviewed.

“You can’t see people on the second floor of the double decker bus but you also can’t see people in the rear of a artic bus, but at least they’re all on one floor and the driver can hear and be aware of what is going on in the back,” he said. “In the years that we have had the artic buses, we haven’t had any major issues.”

Kirstein acknowledged there are pros to double decker buses, such as the capacity of passengers compared to the number of drivers.

“There is going to be a novelty factor that could increase ridership, and it would decrease over-crowding, which we believe causes some of the disorderly and assaulted behaviors,” he said. “On the con side, the bus driver would not be able to easily monitor the second level without diverting his attention from the driving. You could put a camera up there but still it’s distracting.”

Kirstein pointed out it would take hiring driver assistants to monitor the second floor.

“We would also recommend there are two different types — enclosed and open — and we would very much recommend against the open top because you can only imagine the behavior that would go on upstairs; bus surfing, jumping and throwing things,” he said.

According to Eckman, storing and servicing double decker buses at the Public Works Complex will be a challenge as the vehicle would just barley fit into the shop and could only be lifted 2.5 feet off the ground before hitting the ceiling. Other issues include training to service a double decker bus, fitting the vehicle under the awning at the present fuel station and towing in the event of a malfunction.

Councilman Tony DeLuca pointed out an artic’s capacity is 120 versus the capacity of a double decker is 83 as well as an artic costs $700,000 and a double decker costs $825,000.

“I think the artic is the way to go,” Council Secretary Mary Knight said.

The remainder of the commission was in consensus.

“Double deckers are cool but I am over it, the facts are clear,” DeLuca said.

Knight made a motion to recommend to the council to have a RFP drafted for the purchase of three, 40-foot buses to be purchased by the FY14 grant and two artic buses to be purchased by FY15 grant funds. The commission voted unanimously to approve. The purchase would be on schedule to have those buses in service by summer 2016.