Friday, Jan 22–Ocean City News In Brief

OCEAN CITY — In the brief this week, the mayor asked City Council members to sign a letter he’s sending to the governor’s desk, the Raven’s Roost speaks about being one of the triple booked special events in the resort on the first week of June and the Ocean City fire station gets approval for its first growth in decades.

OC Officials Launch Letter Writing Campaign

In hopes of convincing Governor Martin O’Malley to spare the state’s tourism advertising budget from further cuts, several town organizations including the Mayor and City Council are planning to write letters pleading the tourism budget’s case as more of a revenue generator than expenditure.

Mayor Rick Meehan asked members of the City Council to sign a letter than he had written to O’Malley that basically asks the governor to hold the line on the tourism budget, which was already been slashed by 52 percent this year. Reports of the state’s $2 billion deficit indicate the state must make further cuts.

All members of the City Council signed the letter, after a unanimous vote on Tuesday night at City Hall to do so.

“The letter basically says that we understand that there are tough times right now, but every dollar you spend on tourism, you see $30 on the return,” said Meehan. “Keeping this expenditure in place will ensure revenue continuing to flow to the state.”

After the last round of cuts, the town of Ocean City now has more in the local tourism budget ($3.7 million) than the entire state (now approximately $2.9 million).

Additional letters from the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association and the State Tourism Development Board, which is chaired by local restaurateur Greg Shockley, will allegedly be sent to O’Malley as well.

“This year, we are asking the governor to hold the line on cuts and keep the budget where it is now,” said Shockley, “but the letter also asks that for fiscal year 2011, the budget be taken back up to $6 million.”

In 2007, the state allotted almost $7 million towards tourism advertising, but that number has since dwindled.

Ravens Parade To Start Early To Help Air Show

The town of Ocean City continues to do some behind the scenes planning to ensure that the first weekend of June runs smoothly, as town officials came to an agreement with the Baltimore Ravens Roost Parade officials to start their annual parade a bit earlier than in years past.

Sue Draper of the Council of Baltimore Ravens Roosts spoke before the Mayor and City Council on Tuesday night to ask for a date hold for next year’s event and talked about the organizations’ desire to continue to show their proverbial pride for the purple and black each year in Ocean City.

“We are more than just a fan club, as we have more than 4,000 members in 57 roosts spread out over three states,” said Draper. “We were presented with a challenge this year and were concerned that our signature event would be in jeopardy, but we hope to continue our 45-year tradition in Ocean City.”

The parade is part of three big events that particular June weekend (the Ocean City Air Show and the OC Car and Truck Show are the others), and event organizers agreed to begin the parade, which has started at 10 a.m. in years past, at 8:30 a.m. this year.

On Saturday, June 5, the parade will start on 19th Street (also known as Johnny Unitas Way) and proceed north in the southbound lanes to the review stand on 26th Street.

Mayor Rick Meehan thanked the Ravens Roost for agreeing to work with the town, noting, “I know this year was a bit of a challenge, but we are working to make sure that it’s going to be a great weekend for everyone involved.” 

Downtown Firehouse Slotted For More Space

Chief Chris Larmore requested permission to reallocate funds that were sitting in the volunteer division budget of the fire department, to update the overnight sleeping accommodations for the career and volunteer firefighters of Ocean City at the 15th Street headquarters on Tuesday night, and he received a unanimous nod of approval from the City Council.

Larmore’s request included moving $60,000 from the volunteer firefighter’s budget and adding it to the $40,000 that was allotted in the current year town budget for a renovation to the firehouse to complete a planned $100,000 renovation to the second floor of the building.

“This would provides four much needed improvements to a building that hasn’t received any renovations since it was built to my knowledge,” said Larmore, “and it would enable us to start a true-live-in program for our career and volunteer firefighters.”

City Engineer Terry McGean presented the City Council with the plans to essentially convert the current bathroom, kitchen and lounge space, into a 400-square-foot bunk area, gender separate bathroom and shower areas as well as an improved lounge space.

Larmore said that the renovation would also bring the building into compliance, as it was not required to have gender specific bathrooms or showers when the building was erected.

“This is a much needed renovation, and it’s hard to believe that you can get all of this done for this kind of money,” said Councilman Jim Hall.