Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

On occasions, people make illogical decisions, and the Berlin Mayor and Council’s rejection of a landmark establishment’s plans to set up a temporary outdoor bar on New Year’s Eve falls into that category.

Over the last year, The Globe has been offering an outdoor bar on Broad Street in front of the establishment during select special events, including New Year’s Eve. It has been professionally managed and there have been no incidents. With a clean track record and a basic proprietary desire to meet consumer demands and make life easier for event attendees, there was no reason for this denial, and I hope Council members Elroy Brittingham, Dean Burrell and Lisa Hall change their minds when the issue returns in a couple weeks.

Thanks in part to a surge in new business interest as well as popular special events, Berlin’s private sector has created a tremendous wave of positive exposure for the historic town in recent years, and government must do everything in its power to help further that cause or simply stay out of the way of the effort. Fortunately, this week’s decision will not impact the overall success of the New Year’s Eve event, but it does hurt The Globe, which by all accounts is a respectable and professional operation. Furthermore, it’s going to likely lead to aggravation from event attendees looking for an easy way to grab a cold one and enjoy the festivities without having to venture inside what will likely be a congested establishment.

The decision was inconsistent with recent moves by the council in regards to alcohol and was extremely unfair to The Globe because it has gone to great lengths to ensure there are no issues in the past. It needs to be reversed.

With expenses totaling $63,533 and revenue hitting $64,064, the Ocean City Tennis Center made $531 for the town last season, the Mayor and Council learned this week. After hearing a report on the center, some officials gushed over what a success the season was for the center.

It’s no secret the town’s tennis facility has had its ups and downs, including an erratic financial past. In 2003, it lost $13,098, and the next year it lost $1,848. From 2005-2008, it made money with 2007 being the best year at $6,820. In 2009, the positive trend was upended, with a loss $7,773 reported, following by an $823 loss in 2010. In 2011, the ship was righted somewhat, making $3,461.

As a resort destination, government needs to provide amenities to its residents and visitors, but I think the time has come to chart a new direction with this center. It’s nobody fault, and the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department has done a fine job operating it, but the financial numbers clearly say something has to change.

One option worth considering is leasing the facility to a private sector entity, either through a Request For Proposal (RFP) process or maybe even creating a franchise with a $50,000-a-year as a base starting point with the leasee getting whatever revenue is realized from the season.

That’s straight net profit for the town and a lot less headaches and expenses. I think it’s worth a consideration.

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. At this point, that’s the conclusion objective minds have to make when it comes to the prospects of a beach festival taking place in Ocean City.

Until more details are announced, the safest bet is to adopt a “believe when you see it” stance on whether promoters will ever actually hold the multi-day oceanfront festival, featuring national acts. For many, the event took a hit when the promoter decided to steer it in a new direction from rock to country, or as Staff Writer Joanne Shriner put it from “fist pumping” to “boot stomping.”

Though not a country fan, but a live music junkie, I was still excited to see the spectacle of it all on the beach. Now, with this week’s news there is not enough time to pull the event off for next summer, it’s difficult not to be pessimistic about the event’s prospects of ever taking place in Ocean City. I hope the early indications turn out to be wrong.

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.