Citizen Fired Up Over Perceived Miscommunication

OCEAN CITY – The town’s Public Works sector faced a few reprimands at this week’s regular session of the Mayor and Council when a resident pointed out some minor but critical areas of miscommunication between the town and its citizens.

Dave Melocik addressed the Mayor and Council during the “comments from the citizens” portion of the meeting, noting his overall approval of the council’s efforts, but citing several instances when problem areas were overlooked along his city block.

“What we don’t get from the city is communication on things that really are going to affect our neighborhood,” Melocik said.

According to Melocik, neither him nor his neighbors on 40th Street were notified when the city decided to “tear up their street” in an effort to improve the road surface. Although Melocik was informed that his driveway would be blocked for about a week, 10 days passed with no progress. Melocik was then informed that the asphalt plant could be closed for several weeks, delaying access to his driveway. A compromise was met and the problem was addressed, but Melocik maintained that a better means of communication would have solved the issue from the start.

Melocik also addressed the recent project underway at the top of his street, which calls for an extension of the street end to allow for more parking. It came as a surprise to Melocik and neighbors when the street end was torn up, particularly to one neighbor who had labored over the garden at the street end that is now gone.

A third issue involved the installation of a street light, an addition which Melocik claims no one was informed about or desired.

“No one wants that big light at our street,” Melocik said, explaining that the street light a few blocks north attracts late night play. “Kids gather at that light at 2 a.m. to play football.”

Melocik conceded that Public Works Director Hal Adkins was more than willing to address the problem and a compromise was met. The electrical end of the light was installed with a cap on it so that a later date a light could be installed without having to tear up the street.

Despite his overall satisfaction with Adkins and the town’s work, Melocik requested that better communication be utilized in the future to avoid similar issues.

“He’s right and we should have notified them. We dropped the ball on that one,” said Councilman Jim Hall, apologizing for the oversight.

“It’s progress, but it’s a pretty intense project,” said Council President Joe Mitrecic of the work along the street.

Mayor Rick Meehan thanked Melocik for bringing the issue to the elected officials’ attention, noting that the town is usually very efficient in communicating with residents.

Although Adkins was not present at the meeting to give any feedback or to respond to the complaints, he was available for comment the following day.

Adkins confirmed that he had spoken to Melocik about a week ago in regards to the streetlight, but that at no point did Melocik voice any complaints over street repairs.

“Overall, the light issue is mainly from a public safety standpoint,” Adkins said, noting that additional lighting along streets is installed in an effort to make streets safer during night hours.

As for the roadwork, Adkins explained that only major road reconstruction, such as the work done along Bayshore Drive last year, warrants notification to every property owner.

“Unless it is a total reconstruction effort, we don’t normally send notice out to every single property owner,” Adkins said.

Adkins pointed out that the fiscal year 2008 Street Improvement Plan was presented to the Mayor and Council in December and included all of the streets set for improvement in 2008. Adkins agreed at that time, at the request of the council, to include the streets that would be undergoing changes in the next town newsletter.

Adkins has since made efforts to do so, but noted that it would not have helped with Melocik’s concerns heard this week.

Thirty streets were presented in the FY08 Street Improvement Plan, including streets to the south and north of 40th Street. Adkins said they have received no complaints or dissatisfaction from residents over the street improvement plan.