At first glance, the feasibility study for a possible excursion train operation in Worcester County does not look promising as an initial step, but the effort deserves further consideration before its abandoned.
The question is how much money has to be spent during this evaluation period before a conclusion can be made on whether this sort of operation will be profitable in our seasonal area. The study released this week cost $20,000 and the county is being advised to embark on at least one more study and maybe two. These future studies will at least cost the same.
What’s clear from this early report is this will be a long-term project. Most likely it will be years before any sort of operation such as those found in neighboring Pennsylvania are up and running in Worcester County. There, the Strausburg Rail Road Company is a tourist destination, offering dining, amenities and a steam train through the Amish country. On special occasions, Thomas the Tank Engine visits and is popular among all ages.
Worcester County may never rival what Strausburg does, but there is certainly potential for the local operation to have success. The feasibility study documents the potential is there, but falls short of anything definitive to build a business model around. The study estimates a tourism trade from Berlin to Snow Hill and back would attract roughly 77,000 riders annually, based off the large tourism base and residents. The concept being the train would grab a small percentage of summer visitors but be a boon in the fourth quarter of the year when the weather changes, schools re-open and holiday special events can be marketed.
This is an exciting prospect and deserves its due diligence. The issue here is it will take a funding commitment, patience and more studies. Government works generally at slow pace so we should not expect anything concrete on this anytime soon. The question is whether the funding needed to carry out the infrastructure work on the existing rail line will be too prohibitive and who will pay for it. Time will tell, but in the meantime supporters, as well as opponents, will have to sit tight until all the details are known.
Tax Reflections Editor: Having lived in Maryland near Washington DC for over 40 years, I am accustomed to seeing DC license plates with the “Taxation Without Representation” slogan. Reading the article in your Nov. 14 edition regarding the plans of the Mayor and City Council to use the Homestead exemption to block future property tax increase of residents, I feel … Continue reading
Nearly 60 years of experience in elected office were reflected on this week in Snow Hill, as Worcester County Commissioners Judy Boggs, elected back in 2002, Louise Gulyas, in office since 1998, Jim Purnell, sworn in back in 1996, and Virgil Shockley, elected in 1998, attended their last meeting. Gulyas, Boggs and Purnell are retiring, while Shockley lost his seat … Continue reading
Worcester County Education Foundation Chair Todd Ferrante shared this week a You Tube video called “Did You Know? Shift Happens.” It provides a wealth of information, most of which is concerning how critical technology and associated enhancements will be in the lives of today’s young people and in particular their future. For example, one fact included in the video was … Continue reading
This week was not the first time allocating marketing dollars to promote Ocean City’s booming fishing industry has been discussed with the city’s elected officials, but it might be the most organized and likely to have a significant impact. At this week’s Tourism Commission, Scott Lenox, resident fishing guru known for hosting the Hooked On OC show, outlined an effort … Continue reading
Digital Upgrades Key To Community Editor: Worcester County Public Schools will always be the heart and future of our community. Through a strong commitment from our Worcester County Commissioners, dedicated leadership from our Board of Education, and the support of families and local businesses, we have all reaped the benefits of providing a Blue Ribbon education as we watch so … Continue reading
Petition Nearing Goal Editor: First, I would like to say what a thrill it has been for me, a 65-year-old, to meet you citizens as I went door to door over the last four months getting signatures to lower taxes. Since I started the Tax Petition, I have knocked on over 2,500 doors, shaken hands and looked in the eyes … Continue reading
On the national, regional and local front, Tuesday’s election was all about the Republican Party, which swept nearly all races of significances on many levels and particularly on the hyper-local front on the shore. For only the second time in the last few decades, Maryland will have a Republican governor in Larry Hogan, who did what Bob Ehrlich did back … Continue reading
Some reflections on this week’s election: • I don’t like to use the term upset when it comes to election races because the fact is you never truly know the will of the general public until it’s expressed through the voting process. However, prior to elections, it’s natural through educated research and experience to handicap certain races and when the … Continue reading
‘Deep Decline’ Questioned Editor: Thank you to all of the candidates who have chosen to run for City Council in Ocean City including both incumbent members as well as some new personalities that much of the community has recently come to know. Most recently I appreciated last week’s publication of your paper where an expanded question/answer session was published for the several … Continue reading