Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

The first weekend in June is going to be tricky in Ocean City. Although officials seem to be downplaying its significance, the resort will be hosting three popular events that weekend – the Ocean City Air Show, the Ravens Roost Convention, most notably the annual parade, and the OC Car and Truck Show.

While the event itself received rave reviews from just about everyone, traffic and parking for the Air Show was a nightmare last year. There’s really no way to address this fact. When thousands of people are converging on a few square miles of an island all within hours of each other, it’s bound to be a bit of a fiasco. There are only so many places to park and only so many ways in and out of Ocean City. There are bound to be a shortage of parking spots and intense traffic congestion. All that being said, the air show was all worth it last year, in my opinion.

While there are a number of logistical concerns with holding a parade on Baltimore Ave. at the same time the Air Show will be gearing up nearby, there are some other proprietary issues the private events should have with this scheduling mess. Promoters of the Ravens parade and convention and the Car and Truck Show should be worried because they are essentially competing against a city-run event in the Air Show. The city partially funds the Air Show as well as lends a lot of in-kind contributions in staffing resources. It’s the private-public conflict that I would want to discuss and need reassurance no special treatment will be given to the public event.

The city has said it intends to sit down with all the promoters and discuss how to make this weekend flow smoothly. That’s well and good and we hope all interested parties eventually feel comfortable with the agreement. Nonetheless, until that weekend comes and goes, I will remain a skeptic. I just don’t see how everything will run smoothly. It’s all too much for one weekend and it doesn’t seem possible to me.

Although room tax receipts have decreased seven of the 10 months in 2009 from 2008, the year-to-date totals indicate this year has been on par with 2008. Of course, most will tell you that’s nothing to brag about, since 2008 was not a banner year, but it’s interesting to compare and some say it’s a small victory considering the state of tourism in other markets. According to the figures, room tax receipts from January through October of 2009 are down 1.7 percent from the same time period in 2008. Here’s a look at how the first 10 months of 2009 stack up over the last decade:

2009: $10,965,031

2008: $11,160,411

2007: $10,067,373

2006: $9,890,118

2005: $9,283,467

2004: $9,322,854

2003: $8,901,433

2002: $9,195,824

2001: $8,670,965

2000: $6,125,412

It’s certainly no secret things are a little quiet this time of year in Ocean City for the police department, but this last week has been particularly peaceful, according to a look at calls for service, as of late Wednesday. On a number of occasions over the last few weeks, there have been a string of days when only a handful of calls for service were reported in a 24-hour period. While the weekends remain fairly busy, the weekdays are nearly silent. As recently as Tuesday, Dec. 15, there were five calls for service reported. On Dec. 14, nine calls for service were fielded, compared to four calls on Dec. 13; 19 calls on Dec. 12; and eight calls for Dec. 11. That it’s quiet on the crime front is a good thing in my book, particularly when you compare it to what’s happening to our friends in Salisbury where police reports are beyond concerning. Obviously, Ocean City in the winter should not be compared to Salisbury, but here’s a look at that municipality’s police calls from earlier this week just for comparison’s sake: Dec. 15, 122; Dec. 14, 111 calls; Dec. 13, 114; Dec. 12, 145; and Dec. 11, 124.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.