City Hall Open House Focuses On OCDC’s Efforts

OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council’s Open House returns for its 15th year on Saturday with this year’s event featuring the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC).

OCDC was incorporated in 2000 and is a non-profit organization aimed at revitalizing downtown Ocean City. The corporation’s efforts target the Inlet to 17th Street area.

In the past, OCDC has achieved many milestones. Its public art program has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions for art displays in the downtown area, including the white marlin sculpture, the Ocean City library sculpture, the Seahawk sculpture, Dorchester Street’s wall mural, paver art, and the utility painting project with the Art League of Ocean City, where local high schools and private sponsors painted murals on the utility boxes to have them come off easier to the eye.

OCDC has also worked with the town, property owners and business owners on the design of Somerset Plaza and Sunset Park.

The organization takes pride in its Facade Improvement Program. The program was begun in 2002, and it consists of OCDC matching funds to assist property and business owners to renovate the exterior of buildings, to keep the Ocean City charm alive.

“Were still waiting for 100th façade project to get completed,” OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin said. “We’re close to 98, we have six or seven under way … but we’re expecting to hit that sometime in January.”

One of the biggest accomplishments of the organization is the continuation of the façade program Irwin explained.

“We’re probably doing more façade projects now then we have ever done before,” Irwin said.

The Town of Ocean City and Worcester County funds the OCDC, as well as, membership dues, special events, private contributions and state grants.

Proceeds from the corporation’s annual Art Davis Memorial Golf Tournament are placed in the redevelopment fund.

Irwin said that a grant recently received from the state is also one of the corporation’s biggest accomplishments in this past year.

According to Irwin, of the $4.25 million awarded statewide, the OCDC’s awards were the largest on the Eastern Shore and almost the largest in the State.

“It is so competitive to get grant money at state level, we were so fortunate to receive as much as we did this year,” Irwin said.

The public has much to look forward to at this year’s Mayor and City Council Open House, according to Irwin.

“We will have a lot of displays about our façade program, new construction activities downtown, our public art projects…some of the other capital projects we’ve been involved in with the city,” Irwin said. “Pictures with Sunset Park and Somerset Plaza. We will also have some of our board members talking about different items.”

Another tradition at the open house is storytelling sessions. This year’s sessions will include a number of OCDC chairpersons who will tell stories on how the organization began and discuss the formulation and importance of the Downtown Design Standards. They will also speak on the corporation’s public art program and façade improvement program.

Irwin said pictorial displays would be set up “showing some before and after pictures of the façade program, showing how effective it’s been.”

The open house will be held at City Hall this Saturday, Jan. 1 on 3rd Street from 1-3 p.m.

“Through all our programs, we have helped propose downtown as a unique character and it is really worth investing in it and preserving,” Irwin said.