As a follow up to last week’s column, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan called to assure the public the Ocean City Dog Playground has not officially been named after Ocean City Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster. During the ribbon cutting ceremony last week, the new facility was referred to as Shuster Dog Park with a small sign of such displayed. It was a tongue-in-cheek comment at the time. That was known at the time. However, what was unclear until Meehan called was the sign was a total joke. That sign is actually hanging in Shuster’s office now, according to Meehan, who confirmed the town does not have any plans to begin naming facilities. Meehan said city officials were merely joking with Shuster since he has been the resident expert on dog parks throughout the extensive planning and that sign was fabricated to illustrate the point.
A certain matter in the code of Berlin needs to be changed. Interim Berlin Mayor Gee Williams announced last month he wants the job full-time. Former Mayor Rex Hailey is also seeking the seat. What’s interesting, and disturbing to me, at the same time, is Williams cannot resign from his council seat to seek the mayor’s seat. This seems only fair. Williams said he spoke with town attorney Dave Gaskill about what he should do about his council seat and Gaskill told him he has to continue to occupy his seat until the election because he is in the middle of a four-year term. If he wins, he can then resign and a special election will be held. This is silly. Williams gets a “free shot” at being mayor. If he loses, he can retain his council seat. If he wins, the town will schedule a special election, which will cost some money. Plus, it’s no secret voter turnout is always low in special elections and there’s no guarantee anyone will come forward to seek the seat. When I ran into Williams last week at The Globe, he said he had every intention of resigning his seat in favor of his mayoral run until Gaskill informed him he could not. He assumed that would be the right move, but the code precludes him from going that route.
With boat turnout down across the board, both of the major fishing tournaments have felt the effect of the rising fuel prices and economic pains. The Ocean City Shark Tournament experienced a 24-percent drop in number of boats, while the Ocean City Tuna Tournament recorded a 9-percent decline. There’s no reason to think this trend will not spill over to the White Marlin Open, which returns for its 35th run on Monday. The question seems to be how much will boat turnout drop off, not whether it will. It’s worth pointing out last year’s turnout of 398 boats represented an 8-percent drop from 2006 when a record 428 boats participated. With all things considered, it would seem to me anything over 300 would be great.
The Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association is hammering home the idea of affordability in the resort, and it can come at no better time. This summer has largely been about the weekends, and it looks like some hotels and motels are trying to keep some heads in beds through the summer and into fall. After next weekend’s White Marlin Open, the crowds begin to thin, especially during the week. In a press release distributed far and wide this week, the association reports from Aug. 25-Sept. 30, more than 30 local lodging establishments will be offering unusually low room rates. The press release reads, they “will be offering guests huge discounts, slashing their summer rates to traditional off-season prices. In addition, some are including other incentives such as free gas cards, coupons for local restaurants, as well as local attractions.” The press release goes on to remind readers the weather remains ideal this time of year and the beach is not as crowded, making it the perfect time to visit.