Voices From The Readers

Voices From The Readers

Bus Stop Intentions
Meant To Deceive

A wise man, Bo Ruggerio, once told me some good advice. He said, “Look after the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” I know that the issue of $13,000 for an expanded bus stop on the corner of Somerset Street and S. Baltimore Ave. is small in dollars comparatively, but obviously it matters to a lot of people. It’s so much money, in fact, that we have to ask the taxpayers of OC to spend their money for this expansion of the bus stop rather than take the money from the OCDC parking supported budget or the OCDC grant getting ability.

Nor can we expect the companies that supposedly benefit from the bus stop for the convenience of their customers to pay any of this cost, i.e. the businesses on the street who came to the City Council meeting to say what a benefit this bus traffic is for them: one bike rental business which is closed at noon.

And also we cannot expect the out-of-town companies whose customers are benefited most by this bus stop to pay for this small cost or contribute to it. It’s so important to some in the city that I, who was there at the work session, couldn’t speak just for a second to point out that the bus passengers who come to OC from campgrounds outside of town already have most of what they need for their day at the beach purchased where they stay at businesses outside of OC.

Fortunately, Councilman Dennis Dare was watching the dollars and suggested that we look further at the bus stop and see if it could be done with only one space sacrificed. And it was decided that it would be reviewed and brought back for the next council meeting.

Unfortunately, the issue was not on the agenda for the next regular council meeting and so Mr. Bill Purnell Sr. whose Atlantic Hotel property borders the south side of the “model street”, Somerset Street, didn’t get a chance to attend to give his views on the proposed bus stop expansion. It turns out that he didn’t need to come to the meeting anyway, for much to the surprise of many, the bus stop expansion had already been approved on a 5-2 vote. At least that’s what the official minutes of the Jan. 15 meeting said, but nobody ever heard that because it was never stated. It just mysteriously appeared in the minutes.

It doesn’t matter what reason was given for this expense because when I went to the next City Council meeting the reason had changed. The original reason given by the OCDC for needing the bus stop expansion was to assist the businesses on Somerset Street. Then OCDC says that the real reason was that they, the campers, would not have to drive in the city creating traffic and parking problems. This seems to avoid the possibility that the buses could use the auxiliary parking lot and the campers use the city buses to get to and from town.

We just wish the OCDC wouldn’t work so hard to make it appear that these buses are such a benefit for the city when the real reason is the OCDC’s desire to try to make the “model street” look successful. It is what it is — a nice free trip to the beach.

Alvin P. Wendling
Ocean City

Benefit A Success

Wow. The Star Charities Beef and Beer Fundraiser to benefit our wounded soldiers in Maryland was another sellout success.

On Jan. 19, 2013, we raised $3,000 and I cannot stop doing the “Happy Dance” every time I think of all the kind, generous and caring people who helped and supported Star Charities All Volunteers. We sincerely thank you from our hearts.

Here is a long, long list of those who donated to the event: American Legion Post #166, Atlantic General Hospital, Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Hotel, Embers, Casino at Ocean Downs, Fagers Island, Taylor Bank, Jim Trummel, Princess Royale, Democratic Women’s Club of Worcester County, The Delmarva Chorus, Sue Burleston, Farmers Bank of Willards, Imgard Heinecke, Gilly Foultz, Ted Page, David Landis, Ed Hurd, Johanna Hurd, Sons of Italy, Andrew Sorrell, Seacrets, Cyndy Spicknall, Jim Adcock, Ruark Golf Man O’War Course, Cheers, WSFS Bank, Bank of Ocean City, Republican Women’s Club of Worcester County, Mr. & Mrs. Kennard MacMullin. We thank the entertainers, auctioneers and volunteers including and the Star Charities Committee of Peggy Rumburg, Sandy McAbee, Lilly Tunis, Ted Page, Delores Koch, Judy Chuvaia, Mary Ellen Schreiner, Gilly Foultz, LouAnn Trummel, Irmgard Heinecke, Lee Tilghman and Barbara Mazzie.

And a huge “shout out of thanks” goes to the newspapers, television and radio folks. Job very well done, my friends. You all helped to make this event such a success and your continued support of our military men and women wounded in combat to protect our freedom is truly appreciated. May God bless you all.

Anna Foultz

Zoning Policies Questioned

(The following letter was addressed to Ocean City Council President Lloyd Martin with a copy forwarded to this publication.)

We would like to ask the council about your policies on zoning. We have been officially informed of a zoning hearing, the subject of which, we are not in favor. Our concern for the council is more procedural.

The background: a request to allow Mr. Rocco DiFillippo to build another building next to the original Tidelands on the property of 407 Atlantic. It is our understanding that the current Tidelands building was allowed a variance to build closer than the 32 foot specified in the current zoning. Now Mr. DiFillippo is requesting another variance to build next door. If this happens, it is setting a strong precedence.

We are owners of a unit in the El Capitan Condo which is in the same block and was built in good faith in on the specified 32-foot set-back by the current building codes. If this appeal is allowed and the precedent is set, the last building on the block, The Lambros Apartments will also be granted a variance to rebuild 20 feet from the boardwalk and most likely will build taller like the Tidelands. At this point we will be next door to a building that is located 20 feet in front of us and taller, possibly eight stories as the Tidelands new project proposes, affecting our view of the boardwalk to the north. This will most definitely decrease our property value.

We don’t know if this will be approved and even if it is would appreciate it if the council would look into a couple things for us to help others in the future.

1. Why would hearings not be schedule to accommodate the people involved? We were given less than a 14-day notice. Ms. Kay Stroud at planning told us she made sure she mailed them to the property owners 14 days prior to the meeting — according to their policy. That does not give us 14 days’ notice with mailing. She told us she often only sends the notice to the property manager to distribute. This is not sufficient time. At least 10% of our owners are in Florida for the winter and all but one owner is out of town. It was also suggested that if we plan to attend to call before to confirm that the hearing is still scheduled as it is often postponed. We are sure the parties requesting this appeal had much more time to build their case. This makes us think that this is treated only as a formality.

2. If zoning hearings are only a formality, why have them? Wouldn’t it serve the community better to change the laws to reflect the current times like the new skateboard law? If this set-back code is now not serving the community, and changed with every appeal, why not change the code? Wasn’t this zoning code set- up for a reason and looking into its merits would be a far better use of OC’s resources than arranging a hearing that no one has time to attend and is expensive and troublesome for both the city and the citizens.

3. If this hearing could set a dangerous precedent and affect so many property owners on the Boardwalk and people walking on the Boardwalk, why haven’t more people been informed?

We are not in favor of this appeal and would appreciate your looking into the merits of the existing code as well as the appeal process. We appreciate your consideration in this matter.

Janice and Paul Scott
Ocean City

Remember The Vets

Valentine’s Day is a great time to say thanks to Veterans throughout the country. The VA National Salute to Veteran Patients Week observance runs from Feb. 10 through 16, and already Valentine cards are arriving at our three inpatient facilities to attest to the gratitude toward our nation’s Veterans. An annual recognition throughout the VA to honor the men and women who served this country in uniform, the National Salute observance is timed to coincide with Valentine’s Day to connect the holiday’s sentiments of caring and sharing to expressing honor and appreciation to Veterans for their sacrifice and service.

As part of this week long observance, the VA Maryland Health Care System invites the local community to join us in honoring Maryland’s Veterans and to learn more about volunteer opportunities at any of our VA inpatient or outpatient facilities. We offer a hearty thank you to the nearly 1,100 Maryland residents who have already pledged their support by volunteering their time and talent in support of our Veteran patients throughout the state. We hope that Marylanders continue to remember the needs of our Veterans with a show of support and appreciation through continued visits and volunteer involvement. At the VA Maryland Health Care System, community volunteers can choose from an array of activities and assignments that can make their experience enjoyable for them and for our Veteran patients. Whether you can volunteer to sit and chat with a Veteran patient, help them to write letters, or come with a musical instrument to play for their enjoyment, just being present with a smile is sometimes all it takes to brighten a patient’s day.

Every citizen can make a positive difference in the life of a Veteran patient. Visits from community groups and individuals do much to lift the spirits of our patients, some of whom may not have family to visit them. Many returning Veterans are coming to the VA Maryland Health Care System with special needs and challenges that require the hearts and hands of a new generation of VA volunteers. For Veterans, knowing that others appreciate their sacrifice and service can go a long way in the healing process.

I invite every community member to participate in any small way they can to thank the proud American men and women who have served and sacrificed for freedom around the world. You can send Valentines to our Veteran inpatients, or better yet, sign up to participate as a volunteer. Anytime community members visit or interact with Veteran patients, it serves as an excellent reminder that their sacrifices are appreciated.

To schedule a visit during National Salute to Veteran Patients Week, please visit http://www.maryland.va.gov/giving/volunteer.asp

Please help us show Maryland’s hospitalized Veterans that they have not been forgotten by calling and scheduling a visit to one of our VA Maryland Health Care System facilities today.

Dennis H. Smith
(The writer is the director of the VA Maryland Health Care System.)