Ocean City News In Brief

OCEAN CITY — In the brief this week, a land swap could be on the horizon between Delmarva Power and the town of Ocean City, the Lone Ranger will be able to bring his gun and trusty horse Silver to the resort’s library branch and the construction of an airport hangar is not the sure thing it looked like last week.

Land Swap Could Lead

To More Uptown Parking

A conversation between officials and Delmarva Power could eventually lead to a land swap, paving the way for even more uptown municipal parking.

City Manager Dennis Dare told the Mayor and City Council last week that he had been contacted by the power supplier concerning a lease agreement dating back to 1992 on land behind the library on 100th Street, and the possibility the lease may be terminated.

“Basically, Delmarva Power is going to do a study to see if they need to install a new electrical substation, and they have sent us this letter to inform us a year ahead of time,” said Dare.

The city manager went on to suggest the town may want to consider offering a land swap of the two neighboring parcels, which would give the town about 120,000 square feet for municipal parking, and in the process, give Delmarva Power the space it needs, as the town’s current land, as per the lease, directly abuts the current substation.

“If the swap were to happen hypothetically, it would give you enough land to put in an uptown parking garage if you were to ever want to go that route,” he said.

A parking garage has long been talked about in Ocean City, but has usually been linked to a downtown location, rather than uptown. Dare said there are no plans for any such parking garage, uptown or downtown at this time.

Mayor Rick Meehan thought that the idea of land swapping might be a bit preemptive.

“They are simply giving us notice that this could happen, so why don’t we just set up a meeting to strategize possibilities, including the land swap.  I don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves here,” Meehan said.

In the original lease, the town agreed to pay an amount equal to the property tax bill as rent until 1997. Furthermore, the agreement also states the town would pay $10,000 a year to Delmarva Power through 1999 and says the utility can terminate the agreement at any time.

Lone Ranger Will Ride

Again At OC Library

Councilwoman Mary Knight joked on Monday night that she might be the only council member in history to ever vote against the Lone Ranger.

Knight changed her stance and the council unanimously voted for a Salisbury-based Lone Ranger impersonator to fire blanks from his gun as a part of an event at the Ocean City Library branch on May 8.

Last year, when Children’s Specialist Susan Todd came before the council to ask permission for Garry Cherriks, who goes by the alias name John Reid (the Lone Ranger’s alias name in the popular 1950’s television series), to fire blanks from his .45 caliber pistol and to ride his horse Silver during the demonstration, Knight called it “the most unusual request I’ve ever heard while a member of the council.”

Knight’s concern last year was that the sound of gunfire, albeit blanks, would alarm the public and motorists on Coastal Highway, causing potential public safety issues.

Last year’s concerns became a bit of a joking point this year, as council called it a good event.

“I will motion that we approve this as long as we don’t talk about it anymore,” joked Councilman Jim Hall. “We had way too much discussion on this last year.”

Perhaps as a result of the attention it got, Todd said that last year’s event was the library’s largest, with more than 300 people of all ages coming to see one of only four Lone Ranger impersonators in the country.

Hangar Hangs In Balance

The early responses concerning the financing for the town of Ocean City to fund $695,000 to construct the recently approved box style hangar at the Ocean City Municipal Airport weren’t looking too favorable to City Finance Administrator Martha Lucey. As a result, she has advised the council to consider self-financing.

Lucey said that banks wanted either a 10- or 20-year loan payback, rather than the 30-year loan the town hoped for, and the debt service would have become an issue as well, as the hangar would bring in $19,000 less in rental revenue than what was needed to pay the debt service.

“It was just a financial option because borrowing rates are six times the rate we are earning on investments right now,” said Lucey, “The council and I are being very cautious about this though, as it is very important to have adequate reserves when there is an economic downturn.”

Public Works Director Hal Adkins, who has been working on making this hangar become a reality for more than two years, remains optimistic that the council and Lucey will find a way to get the project done.

“ All I can hope is that the council clearly realizes, as I think they do, that growth of the based tenants at the facility is the foundation of stability for the airport,” said Adkins. “We currently have a waiting list of tenants that exceeds the capacity of the five-unit structure, and, as I’ve stated before, if we cannot find a way to build this structure now, it is my opinion it will never be built it in the future.”