Flea Market Revival Pitched For Downtown Lot

OCEAN CITY – Recent rumors of the once popular flea market
in Ocean City returning may prove to be true as members of the Recreation and
Parks Committee sat down Tuesday morning to discuss the details of reviving a
favorite pastime.

“You guys probably don’t remember but when we got rid of
the flea market it was a real stinker,” Councilman Jim Hall said Tuesday.
“People really enjoyed that.”

It was at a recent Mayor and City Council meeting during
the closing comments that Hall brought up the idea of bringing back the flea
market in an attempt to bring people downtown on the weekends.

Initially he proposed using the Park and Ride parking lot
located across the Route 50 bridge. However, Mayor Rick Meehan said he would
like to see it closer to the downtown area in a place like Somerset Plaza. It
was decided that the Recreation and Parks Committee would look further into
bringing the idea into fruition.

“My first thought was Park and Ride, but what I would like
to do, with your permission, is to go to [Ocean City Development Corporation
Executive Director] Glenn Irwin and ask him to handle it,” Hall said. “Try it
Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Somerset Street and see how it

In considering Somerset Street as the location, members
pointed out a few things that would essentially rule it out as a viable spot.

Council President Joe Mitrecic and Councilman Lloyd Martin
both illustrated the fact that a flea market along there would be competing
with local businesses, something most would not allow.

Another problem with Somerset Street is overall space and
access. Because of Somerset Plaza’s location and layout, trying to unload
tables and other wares along there becomes a nightmare, thus ruling out that
area as practical and moving discussions back to the Park and Ride.

With the exception of weekends such as Independence Day,
Springfest and Sunfest, committee members began to agree the Park and Ride
looked to be the most optimal place for a flea market on the weekends since
trash receptacles and bathrooms were already on the premise.

This was when City Manager Dennis Dare asked the committee
what the goal of the flea market was. When Hall said it was to bring people to
downtown Ocean City, Dare pointed out the obvious fact that the Park and Ride
is not in the downtown area, prompting more discussion on other locations.

Some of the other places considered were the Somerset
Street and Dorchester Street municipal parking lots, however it was decided
they were a little too small and provided important parking for local
businesses on the weekends. Also considered was Sunset Park but it posed the
same problem as Somerset Plaza in that it was too confined and moving tables,
tents and other larger items would prove to be too difficult.

“I don’t have anything against a flea market,” Mitrecic
said. “I think it’s a good idea and unfortunately I think Park and Ride is the
best place for it.”

It was then Dare proposed the idea of having the flea
market at the Worcester Street parking lot.

“If you are talking about Saturday mornings, the people
who are going to the beach are going to the Inlet parking lot and it’s not
necessarily full at that time,” he said. “I don’t know that there is that much
parking in the Worcester Street parking lot and you don’t have to use all of
it, but at least you are bringing people into downtown Ocean City.”

Dare further elaborated on that plot of land, saying how
the parking garage that is planned to go there can house the market in the
future. People will be able to park on the bottom floors while the top ones
will be for the market themselves, and in the case of bad weather, it can be
moved to the lower levels.

“I think that’s a smarter idea,” Mitrecic said. “But I
don’t think OCDC is interested in doing it. I think the Downtown Association
would do it if we would say here it is, you can do it, charge people and you
can keep the money.”

Since the Downtown Association’s officers are right across
the street from the lot, everyone agreed with the idea.

By doing this, it helps fund other things for the Downtown
Association and in return, makes the downtown area more attractive to visit. At
the same time, revenue that would be made from the parking places lost to the
market would be made up at other places from the increased traffic to the area.

With Sunset Park, the Boardwalk and numerous restaurants
around there, coupled with bathrooms at the nearby transit station and trash
receptacles already in place, the Worcester Street parking lot became the most
idealistic place.

“It becomes a destination area and that’s what we need
down there,” Dare said.

It was then agreed the committee would approach the
Downtown Association in coming weeks to see if an agreement could be made for
them to manage the market.