Savings Not Enough For Skate Park Move

It’s been a rough spring for the Ocean City Mayor and Council, and the public bashing the group has been receiving of late continued this week during the skate park discussions.

The proposed two-month closure and reduced off-season operations of the Ocean Bowl Skate Park recently resulted in an online petition being created to protest the move, which will save the city about $20,000. About 500 people have shown support for the skate park on the local high school senior’s online petition.

The city’s plan is to continue to operate the skate park seven days a week during daylight in the summer months. After Labor Day, the city will keep it open on the weekends, holidays and during all county school days off. However, it will close during the months of January and February under the current plan.

After significant public outcry in recent weeks and a number of public speakers deriding the move at this week’s meeting, the Mayor and Council has decided to form a skate park committee to study operations during the summer months and to give feedback to the council at some point during the summer. It’s important to note the city is budgeting for the $20,000 cut from the skate park and at this time plans to move forward with the service reductions.

The formation of the skate park committee is a step in the right direction, and a similar group of stakeholders working with city representatives was successful in reaching a compromise over the city’s surfing beach policy earlier this year.

It would seem logical to conclude the skate park committee will not return with the recommendation to close the facility at all during the winter months, but there have been several references to low usage data that from a business perspective have city officials favoring a reduction in operations. Committee members will reportedly get to review that information during one of the upcoming meetings.

It’s often said government needs to be run like a business. In some cases, that methodology applies, but there are times when there must be exceptions, and the skate park situation is one of those instances.

The numbers might say usage at the skate park is light during the times the city is considering shutting it down. However, it’s not always about the data. It’s about the community and providing a service to the youth that is important. The savings ($20,000) pales in comparison to what the city stands to lose in community pride and confidence in the council to make decisions for the betterment of the local residency.

We hope the city ultimately scraps this plan altogether and leaves the skate park alone. The small expenditure reduction is not worth the negative reaction and community sentiment that has resulted in this proposal.

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.