Voices From The Readers

Boardwalk Concerns

My family and I have been visitors to Ocean City for over 40 years starting at the Seascape Motel at 16th street. We stayed in many areas of town from a small apartment at Division and Philadelphia all the way up to East of the Sun.

We built a home in Ocean Pines in 1995 and still enjoy our time on the beach and fishing in the bay. When our kids were young starting at about age 12, we would allow them to go "up on the boards" for a couple of hours in the evenings. Depending where we were staying, they walked or took the bus and we were never concerned about their safety. Today after seeing the various gang members and other undesirables that congregate on the Boardwalk I would not allow my teen age grandchildren on the Boardwalk without an armed guard, it’s that dangerous.

It’s sad to see what has happened to the Boardwalk and the downtown area over the past decade, I wish you all the luck in the world cleaning it up but you have a tall mountain to climb.

Robert M. Bauersmith
King of Prussia, Pa.

Article Omits OC

Talk about the beach bully who walks up to the skinny guy and kicks sand in his face. Well, if you happened to read the Baltimore Sun’s Travel section this week, that bully was the Sunpaper and Ocean City was the skinny guy laying on the beach.

The travel section article entitled "12 for the Road" listed 12 hot spots to visit this summer. After listing Cape May, N. J. first, the article mentioned the Delaware Shore. And I quote, "Dewey and Rehoboth are able to combine the laid-back beach town atmosphere without the obnoxious crowd and debauchery that a more popular beach destination brings with it." Ouch. Who around here upset the Sunpaper so much that they felt the need to kick sand in the town’s face?

Unfortunately, from what I have been witnessing this summer, they may speak the truth. Business is bad, at least mine is. There are more F-bombs spoken (yelled) on the beach and Boardwalk than I have ever heard. I and many families got to watch a mini-riot break out Sunday on North Division Street. Ironic that the new police chief is from Baltimore City, as it looked like a brawl in Baltimore City on the beaches of Ocean City today.

I will say kudos to the OC police who were on scene, as they needed to bring a very dangerous and out of control situation under control. And they did a great job doing it. It was getting ugly out there. Maybe Brent Ashley is on to something and it really is time to pull up our pants up. Oh, by the way, Ocean City, obviously, did not make the 12 for the road list, but amazingly, the city of Pittsburgh did.

Drew Haugh
Ocean City

Jaywalk Temptations

We are very pleased with this year’s public service messages about pedestrian safety and using the cross-walks in Ocean City. This awareness campaign has probably already saved lives and prevented countless accidents and near-misses.

While driving down Coastal Highway, however, it becomes clear that many of the public beach access points do not actually align with the controlled intersections, nor do they have cross-walk markings.
These are obvious temptations to jaywalk and should be corrected. It is
commonplace to whole families – parents carrying beach furniture and
umbrellas, children carrying their toys – running across Coast Highway in the middle of a block to get from bayside to the beach. This might even be considered a legal liability for the Town of Ocean City, since these unmarked crossings might be construed as an "attractive nuisance".
As a related problem, many of the controlled intersections that do have "push to cross" buttons are not well coordinated. We applaud the recent efforts to review and the adjust the timing of the major intersections. However, it remains true that at most of the Coastal Highway controlled intersections, the buttons do not control both cross-walks simultaneously.
This creates a complex situation where one corner says "Don’t Walk" while the adjacent corner moving in the same direction says "Walk". This appears intentional at some intersections with dedicated left turn lanes.
But it does create both confusion and impatience among those who are waiting to obey the admonition to "cross safely".
Would it be simpler if the lights could be, and it won’t work everywhere, programmed so that pressing any of the four "push to cross" buttons would
activate both sides to cross Coast Highway at the same time?
Anything we can do to encourage safe crossing will save lives and these small additional steps should be a high priority for the Mayor, Council and the Town of Ocean City.

James Smirniotopoulos
Ocean City

Harris Out Of Line

It is disturbing what Rep. Andy Harris said about the country’s discussion after the George Zimmerman trial. Harris is not just an elected representative but is also a medical doctor.

So, his advising us to "get over it" (the verdict) and move on is callous, unkind, insensitive and lacking medical wisdom. Would Harris tell a member of his family whose son had been shot and killed to just “get over it”? I think not.

This type of comment makes light of and diminishes the experiences of those who suffer or have suffered similar grievous losses in their lives. It indicates that Rep. Harris has no understanding of what it is like to walk in another person’s shoes in order to get an inkling of how a world view might be different from and equally valid to his own.

A boy has been shot in the heart and dies, the shooter goes on with his life and Rep. Harris/Dr. Harris cavalierly tells us to stop talking about it, stop trying to process this heartbreak, and "get over it"?

I think it’s time for the voters in Harris’ district to get over him and vote for someone else in the next election – someone with a better understanding of the human heart.

Ann Augustine

Needs Vs. Wants

Detroit has recently declared bankruptcy. Many other cities have followed suit. Is Ocean City leaning in that direction? Is our city living beyond its needs and beyond its means?

Our Ocean City government has reached a point where the City Council must make some essential and critical decisions regarding our city’s needs

In order to meet the financial needs of our city, we feel that raising property, food, or room taxes is not advisable. Conversely, we think that our city needs to cut expenses. Ask department heads to cut their budget 5-10 percent for the next fiscal year. It can be done by assessing the city’s needs, not its wants. Example: Was getting the fire boat a need or a want? Is it a need or a want to have over 250 full- and part-time Ocean City Police Department employees? Is it a need or a want that some city employees have salaries, pension plans, health care, etc. exceeding those of neighboring cities? These are only examples of what could be addressed.

City Council, we ask you not to borrow money for things that the city cannot afford. Take action now because we do not want to live in a bankrupt city.

John and Ann McDermott
Ocean City

Worried By Incidents

Is it only a remnant of the town’s people that recognize how drastically Ocean City, Md. has changed? It seems that a floodgate has been opened with a large percentage of the lower socioeconomic inner city undesirable crowd being given a free pass to come to Ocean City, Md. And they bring with them their typical violent, aggressive and loud behaviors.

Simply following the news reported by The Dispatch, Ocean City Today and The Daily Times, anyone can clearly observe an intensity and frequency in the types of violent crimes our vacation resort communities are experiencing. Examine the incidents reported by The Dispatch concerning an altercation at the Denny’s Restaurant around 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 13 2013. The Ocean City Police responded to the parking lot of the Denny’s restaurant in the area of 112th Street for a reported weapons violation. A person identified as Stephen Dayaram Jagtiani, 30, of Falls Church, Va., threatened other visitors with a machete weapon because they questioned his aggressive driving through the restaurant’s parking lot, which endangered themselves and others. On Wednesday, July 17, 2013, during the midafternoon, Delaware State Police chased a dangerous man, armed with a machete down Coastal Highway. The chase involved other cars being hit before the man was apprehended for a hit-and-run accident in Rehoboth Beach. Albeit, this individual was not staying in Ocean City, his lack of regard for others adversely impacted our vacation resort communities. Just earlier this week, there were two additional fights involving knives.

Three men were arrested after a fight on a crowded downtown beach in the middle of a busy Sunday afternoon after an Ocean City Beach Patrol surf rescue technician was threatened. This reportedly occurred around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Ocean City Police responded to the beach at N. Division Street for a reported group of disorderly males. The request for assistance came from an Ocean City Beach Patrol lifeguard, who told police he approached the group to speak with them, at which time one of the suspects threatened him. An incident involving a Connecticut man, resulted in him being charged with first-degree assault this week after pulling a knife and nearly stabbing a resort bar owner during a scuffle. This particular incident occurred around 1:40 a.m. on Monday.

I suppose these four incidents should dispel the myth that seems to be held by OC Mayor and City Council that there is only an increase in crime during the month of June; then all peace and safety is magically restored in July and August. What a joke. When do they plan to wake up and take action to restore peace and safety in Ocean City, Md.?

I can’t imagine upper middleclass families wanting to continue coming to Ocean City to be exposed to these types of incidents.

Rachel Fiorello
Ocean City

Group Name Confusing

After reading the article concerning the petition to stop the new paid parking areas two questions occurred to me that I would like to have someone from the Ocean City Taxpayers for Social Justice (OCTSJ) answer.

First is this petition demanding that all parking meters and paid parking be removed from Ocean City or are they just aiming to have the new meters removed. In other words, are they against all paid parking or only the paid parking that affects them? What about all the other people who have to pay to park?

It seems this petition is very narrow in scope and more like I don’t want my company to have to pay and the heck with everyone else. So it would be very informative to have someone answer that question.

Second, why is the name of their group Ocean City Taxpayers for Social Justice (OCTSJ). Why do all these new groups think it’s important to include the term social justice in their names? Just what does that have to do with paid parking?

Come on folks why not just name your group for what it is ..Ocean City Taxpayers for Free Parking Privileges?  Wouldn’t that be more to the point?

Len Bender
Ocean City

OCDC’s Importance
Why should the citizens pay attention to who OCDC is and what they do?

Everyone has heard or read at some point about something that OCDC has done. But what are the real facts behind this organization that has been in existence for 12 years?

If we were to tell you that in the last 12 years, we’ve helped incrementally increase the property tax revenue by approximately $4 million it would certainly catch your attention. How, do you say, have you accomplished this?

The facts are that we are now completing our 140th Façade Project which by itself has increased the values of downtown properties by approximately $7 million. We have obtained 25 grants from the State of Maryland in excess of $1.5 million to help and encourage property owners to upgrade their properties.

How about public art in Ocean City? When you drive into town over the Route 50 Bridge, you see that marvelous statute of the white marlin. When you drive into town from the north, you see the wonderful statue of the eagle in flight on 142nd Street. At the new library on 100th St., there’s a statue of Mr. Soren reading to his daughter. As you park at the municipal lot on 4th Street, there’s the statue of a hawk. And not to mention the numerous utility boxes and walls that have been transformed with murals. These projects were done and paid for by OCDC and its fundraising efforts.

And what about the vision of transforming, altering and ultimately upgrading an open lot into what’s today the Sunset Park premier venue for free concerts, events and social activities that comes with those capturing sunsets? Somerset Plaza used to be a little used street that’s now a beautiful pedestrian area for exhibits, special events and strolls. These are a few of the many art projects of OCDC. Can you put a price on art, especially public one?

All of this was accomplished by the tireless efforts of citizens of Ocean City who really care about the image of the town not only today, but in the future. And this is only part of the challenges the group has faced and overcome.

I hope this will shed more light on the work of this group and better understanding of its accomplishments by the citizens of Ocean City.

Charlie Barrett
Ocean City