OCEAN CITY – Resort officials this week agreed to send an official letter of support to the appropriate agencies in the state for the beleaguered Trimper’s Rides amusement park at the foot of the Boardwalk, which is threatened with extinction due in large part to staggering increases in property taxes for the massive complex.
It came to light earlier this month the historic amusement park is considering shutting down after occupying the site at the foot of the Boardwalk for 120 years because the revenue it generates has not kept pace with ever-increasing property tax assessments. Family members said earlier this month the most recent assessment of the property’s value showed an increase of 163 percent in the last three years from $29.6 million to $77.9 million, representing an increase of $500,000 in taxes owed on the property.
While most everyone agrees an effort has to be made to save the historic park, no one is certain just what the remedy might be. The Trimper family is currently appealing the most recent assessment for the park, and local and state officials have vowed to work together on some sort of tax relief plan for the property, but it still remains uncertain if this summer could be the last for Trimper’s Rides, at least in its current configuration.
The issue arose again this week during the Mayor and Council meeting on Monday when a concerned citizen urged the local elected officials to do something to save Trimper’s.
“That amusement park is part of our soul,” said resident and businessman Rob Greenebaum during the public comment period of the meeting. “I don’t think any of you want to let this slip away on your watch.”
Council members said they were well aware of the situation and were considering what steps to take to ensure the park’s continued existence. Mayor Rick Meehan said the issue had attracted national attention.
“We’ve all heard a lot about this,” he said. “I’ve taken a lot of calls from out-of-town media and all they want to talk about is Trimper’s Rides. It’s an institution and an important part of our economy.”
The County Commissioners have already agreed to send a letter to the appropriate people and agencies in the state that could have a hand in helping to save Trimper’s and Meehan this week urged the Ocean City Council to do the same.
“I’m asking the council to follow suit with our own letter,” he said. “I think there should be some special tax consideration as long as they continue to operate as an amusement park.”
Some on the council raised concern a letter supporting some sort of tax abatement could result in a flood of requests from other businesses.
“Trimper’s is not the only business facing the same issues,” said Councilwoman Nancy Howard. “All of our businesses are facing this on some level. I just think we need to be careful.”
Meehan countered the letter was simply a start.
“I don’t have the answers, and there will probably be a lot of discussion about this, but at least we will be on the record with our support,” he said. “We can word the letter in such a way that it encompasses all of our businesses without being so cumbersome that it derails this effort.”
Councilman Jim Hall said the situation with Trimper’s goes beyond the issue of the increased tax assessments.
“We should send the letter, but this is not just a tax situation,” he said. “This is a very large family and a big corporation. From my understanding, there are a lot of factors involved and a lot of family issues.”
After considerable debate, the council voted unanimously to send the letter in support of Trimper’s with the conditions laid out by Meehan included.