Ocean City News In Brief

OCEAN CITY — In the brief this week, parking, pipelines and public auctions came up at City Hall this week. Here’s a recap of some matters discussed at this week’s Mayor and Council meeting.

Comprehensive Study On Parking Pitched

Councilman Joe Hall has historically not been a fan of sub-committees, as he’s criticized the Tourism Commission on numerous occasions, and even successfully sought to get sub-committee reports to the public’s attention in a much more timely fashion last fall.

Consequently, it was interesting that it was Hall who pitched the idea of the formation of a comprehensive committee to assess the town’s parking rates, not only at the Inlet, but citywide.

Hall’s comments stemmed from quips by City Manager Dennis Dare several weeks ago in The Dispatch when Dare hinted a parking raise may be in order and conceded that the town may not be priced accordingly for the prime real estate parking at the Inlet, due to the fact that it’s filling to capacity before 9 on busy weekend mornings.

In addition, Dare had also pitched a rate raise for the Inlet lot last fall, which the council emphatically steered clear of that would have generated approximately $900,000 in revenue.

“I think before we talk about revenue enhancements for existing parking, maybe we could recommend the Mayor and Council put together a committee to do a comprehensive review of public parking in town,” said Hall.

Hall’s idea seemed to be looking at the idea of charging for other public spots on the island, before the town went ahead and decided to raise the prices of the spots downtown.

“Downtown holds majority of paid parking in town, and there’s certainly areas other than downtown that don’t charge, so that raises the question, ‘what’s the difference?’” queried Hall. “The town has to pay to replace the pavement and keep the streets clean there, too. If you are going to have revenue enhancements downtown, why not at least have a comprehensive look citywide.”

Mayor Rick Meehan agreed with Hall, as did others on the council including Councilman Jim Hall, who had recently changed sides in the parking debate. Jim Hall was vehemently opposed to the change when Dare first brought the idea before the council last fall, but said he changed his personal view on the matter at the beginning of the summer when he saw how quickly and how early the Inlet lot was filling on the weekends.

No word on when a committee might be formed, or even who would be in the committee, but as of now, a committee to study town parking seems imminent. 

Dundalk Disaster Sparks

Concerns About Water Mains

Two water main breaks near 8th Street and St. Louis Avenue have a few neighbors worried that their streets could end up looking like the flooded streets of Dundalk, Md.

City Manager Dennis Dare answered Councilwoman Margaret Pillas’ concerns, but seemed to be speaking directly to the cameras and the townspeople specifically in addressing the concerns.

“Just to put everybody to rest, we are in no danger of that happening here,” said Dare. “[Dundalk] had a 72-inch water main that broke, and in comparison, the biggest we have down here is probably a 12-inch one.”

It is also interesting that there are issues concerning St. Louis Ave. as it is one of the many town capital projects that were shelved during the budget process last year.

“We don’t want to put a new coat of asphalt down there on St. Louis Ave.,” said Dare. “We want to revamp and rebuild the entire thing, including the water mains.”

Dare said that the project needs to be done because of the sheer age of the pipes, but with the current capital project freeze, when that will happen alone St. Louis Ave. is anybody’s guess.

Public Auction Approved For Surplus Vehicles

 Each year, the town of Ocean City auctions off a number of vehicles that over time, have reached the end of their tenure as an Ocean City town vehicle and reached misfit toy status.

Twenty-five items were pitched for the council’s approval to be auctioned off to the public on Oct. 17, but only 24 were approved, as Public Works Director Hal Adkins asked that the council remove a high-mileage Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) handicapped van from the list.

In realizing that the town’s fleet of three ADA vans may not be able to handle the load created by Monday’s decision to expand the scope of the town’s ADA shuttle service to Berlin three days a week, Adkins asked the council to leave the van in the city’s arsenal at least until the spring as a backup.

A synopsis of the rest of the items for those who fancy public auctions, include: five vehicles were considered “rusted out, 5 vehicles have “miscellaneous mechanical problems”; three wrecked vehicles; and seven vehicles were deemed to be worn out beyond economic value.

Most notably, there are three vehicles, a Toyota Avalon, an Acura CL 3.0 and a Jeep Grand Cherokee, that will also be auctioned off and are listed as “confiscated junk.”