Voices From The Readers

Weighing In On
School Start Move
As I begin my 29th year of teaching in a Maryland public school system, I would like to respond to your first piece of “Between the Lines” from the Aug. 16 edition of your paper regarding moving the start of the school year back to the day after Labor Day.
The start of the school year has been moved up around the state to Aug. 26 this year in all but two counties. Frederick and Prince George’s County moved their start date up to Aug. 19. The rationale behind this is to give students even more classroom instruction time prior to taking high stakes tests that they are required to take in May. Many high school students take Advanced Placement exams the first two weeks of May. These exam dates are set by the AP testing company and are nationwide dates. Additionally, students around Maryland take High School Assessment (HAS) tests and elementary students take required state-wide tests in May. The state board of education actually moved the HSA’s from early May to the end of May last year to increase instructional time.
In your second paragraph, you mention statistics stating how much Ocean City would benefit economically by starting school after Labor Day. Actually, these numbers are most likely inaccurate. When the school systems move their start dates to earlier in August, they also have their school year end earlier in June. The town does not lose any available days for vacation travel. The summer break is still roughly nine weeks. It just happens to be one to three weeks earlier than under the old calendar. If anything, you have more potential vacationers and summer employees available by releasing school in early June. High school students involved in fall athletics must return home by Aug. 15, even if the school year doesn’t start until after Labor Day. Also, colleges are finished in mid to late May, but resume at the end of August.
By having an “earlier” summer season, more college students would be able to work more weeks in the summer as the Ocean City summer schedule would be more in line with the college calendar.
The major perception that Ocean City will have to overcome is the problem of June Bugs. Families will continue to stay away as long as the high school graduates overtake the town in June with all of their craziness. In the 70’s and 80’s, Fort Lauderdale was a hot spot for college spring breakers. The town had enough and stopped catering to spring breakers and became more family friendly and remains so to this day.
If Ocean City can clean up the June Bug issue, the earlier start and end to the school year should actually be a boon to the town and probably even a better deal for Ocean City than the current calendar.
Matt Noble
Ocean City and Olney

OC’s New Marketing
Direction Is Critical
Thank you for your recent article, “Mayor Promises ‘Aggressive’ Plan To Address OC Concerns,” by Joanne Shriner. It is nice to finally receive a response from our Mayor and City Council on these issues. The mayor promised several significant actions will be taken to restore Ocean City’s reputation for a safe, pristine, family vacation resort, and we hope they will be implemented immediately. In response I would like to comment that I realize the sudden negative changes in Ocean City might seem overwhelming and shocking for many. However, these changes have been subtle and gradual over the past few years, which is why they are insidious. Since they have recently culminated, these changes give the appearance of being “all of a sudden.”
Albeit the actions the mayor outlined to address these concerns seem reasonable and practical. Still I believe we need to remain vigilant in our expectation of Mayor and City Council to ensure these proposed actions come to full fruition. Clearly these proposed actions will not improve the summer of 2013 in Ocean City, yet it is encouraging to look toward future summers with a sigh of relief.
I am wondering if Mayor Meehan has any different strategies concerning marketing Ocean City, Md. for the future. Whatever our present strategies are, they seem to have tapped into the attention of undesirable tourists. While I certainly think it is prudent to take the actions Mayor Meehan is suggesting, I don’t think we should neglect to concern ourselves about who we are inviting into our town. Ergo, the question of marketing strategies should be answered as well. Hopefully the mayor and city council will inform the residents and local businesses of their future marketing strategies.
Rachel Fiorello
Ocean City

Boardwalk Visits Over
My husband and I have owned a townhouse in OC for over 25 years.  All of our children and now our grandchildren come to enjoy the beach.  I am sorry to say that due to the reported violence and problems on the Boardwalk and surrounding areas we now cook in, fish and go to the beach. Our entertainment is limited due to these problems.
I think your attention should be on crime and how to continue to attract families to the beach and Boardwalk. The consequences to this problem could potentially ruin OC.
I have never written to The Dispatch before, but felt compelled to express my concern, especially since friends who want to visit are asking me if OC is safe.
Karen Sova

Arts Center Applauded
With all the problems that Ocean City has been having lately, especially the Boardwalk, I would like to say that the new Center for the Arts on 94th street is one of the best things to happen to this resort in a really long time.
Not only is it a beautiful building but it brings some culture to the area. It is a fun place to go and see beautiful artwork of all kinds. There are classes to go to all the time for even untalented artists like myself, and, the best part of all was the camp they had for the kids this summer. My son had the best time doing all different types of artwork and learning fun things. He went to several camps this summer and this was his favorite. We will both be participating in whatever we can at the art center even into the winter. If you haven’t been there yet you need to check it out. I think it’s the beginning of greater things to come to Ocean City.
Thank you to all who made it possible.
Laurie Heller
Ocean City

Parking Meter Decision
Has Many Ramifications
It was insightful to read the recent letter from a vice president with Long and Foster noting that his agents have been hearing complaints about the new parking meters in north Ocean City. Reportedly, long-term clients have threatened to never return to Ocean City. Moreover, Mr. Waggoner states that his firm has seen a 5-percent decrease in rental revenues, the first decrease since 2006. This is especially noteworthy because we have survived the great recession after 2006, and there was preseason press speculation of increased revenue potential this year before New Jersey resorts could be thoroughly rebuilt.
I believe that this is only the beginning of problems that will result from widespread installation of parking meters all over the city. My wife and I have owned a condominium unit in north Ocean City since 1986. Our building was constructed in 1974, and at that time Ocean City only required one parking space per unit. Today, there is still only room in our parking lot for one car per unit. Accordingly, our guests always need to park on the street, as do owners and renters who arrive in more than one vehicle.
We have become used to living with “taxation without representation” and appreciate the opportunity to have our voices heard through the press. The reality is that many second-home owners pay much higher property taxes than the minority of property owners who live here full time and can claim the Maryland Homestead Rebate. In our case, we pay thousands of dollars more in real estate taxes for our two bedroom condominium than we do for our much larger four bedroom home on the “Western Shore.” However, this assault on part-time residents and visitors is the final straw as far as we are concerned.
If our street ever has parking meters installed, we will change our whole approach to dining, shopping, and recreational activities. Our first thought would be to take our business north or west, i.e., outside Ocean City. While our property taxes are outside of our control, spending is not. If the city council needs every last nickel that it can squeeze out of us and our guests, we will certainly take the bulk of our business elsewhere.
The City Council should also look beyond the parking meter revenues that can be derived and consider how detrimental these actions could be for the future. If our building becomes less desirable for owners and renters, rents would likely drop and result in a further loss of tax revenue for the city. Moreover, it is reasonable to expect that a less desirable building would have lower property valuation and lead to lower property taxes. Perhaps the current administration is not bothered because they could always raise property tax rates which would, of course, also affect full time residents.
Furthermore, parking meter rates could also be raised in an attempt to close the short fall. None of these options seem in Ocean City’s best interests, but of course my opinion does not matter because I’m only a tax payer, but not an Ocean City voter.
Mike Schoenfeld

Culture Changes On Display
I grew up in Ocean City, my family owning Griffin’s Seafood.
What we got in the summer were people from the city who brought a different culture (their culture) to our sleepy little resort town. We referred to them as “City People”. They brought loud voices, more crime and a different view of life and morality than ours. But they also brought money that they spent in our store and other stores and rented apartments. This kept our families in food and shelter for the winter. When they went home, we could go back to living the way we loved.
I think this is what is happening to OC now. Your “City People” may be more dangerous and more of a problem that in my day, but the world has changed so much since 1967. We see it here on the Western Shore and moved to a more rural county to get away from it. But it will visit OC every summer, but it sounds like you are doing a good job of containing it as best you can.
Sad that you have to work that hard, but that’s today’s world. Good luck, God bless, miss you every day.
Elna Griffin Mooneyham’
Chesapeake Beach

An Inconsistent Policy
I found it interesting to read that the beach patrol has a “knee-deep policy” for sand holes. This policy apparently does not apply on the beach at 85th Street.
After watching two young teen boys digging a chest-deep hole on the beach, several of us became concerned. After speaking with the boys and their mothers had no effect, my neighbor approached the nearby lifeguard. The guard walked over, looked at the hole and the boys continuing to dig, and told them to be sure to fill it in when they were done. He then went back to the guard stand, leaving the boys still digging.
Perhaps some of the guards need further education about this policy?
Shanna Kahler

Support Appreciated
On behalf of the OC Life-Saving Station Museum I would like to thank all of the volunteers and sponsors who helped make the Third Annual Children’s Day at the Bay a success.
A great time was had by all who participated – children and parents. Our heartfelt thanks to our monetary sponsors: Bank of Ocean City, Harbor Marine, Phillips Crab House, Kam Aquatics Inc, Ocean City Development Corp, The Purnell Family/Atlantic Hotel, Park Place Hotel, Smoker’s BBQ Pit, John Lorenz and Royal Plus as well as the Town of Ocean City for the use of beautiful Sunset Park. All of this support made it possible for us to feature Ben Cherry as Blackbeard the Pirate.
We were proud to also include educational programs presented by the Delmarva Discovery Center and the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
We are looking forward to other projects and events. Visit our website at http://www.ocmuseum.org/ for more information. Thank you one and all.
Diane Knuckles
Ocean City
(The writer is the assistant curator at the Ocean City Life Saving Station Museum.:

Appeal, Charm Lost
First off let me say I support our current City Council. They are good people whose intentions are well meaning. However, they have lost perspective on what has and is happening to our town.
Over the past 47 years, obviously I have seen many changes. The worst is that the town has gotten too big. One needs to step back, out of the box, and look at the big picture, as to what is happening to Ocean City.
There are many lessons one learns in life, but three stand out and apply to Ocean City. One, the KISS principal — Keep It Simple Stupid; two, live within your means; and, three, bigger is not always better.
Simply stated: Ocean City has obviously outgrown its space. Too many people, Way too many condos and hotels. Why does the City Council want to continue to spend millions of our tax dollars to promote Ocean City and its businesses? We have more than enough visitors.
Look what has happened by being bigger: more crime, more city services needed, more traffic congestion, bigger government, more taxes, higher taxes to pay for these services, more bars, more drugs, more alcohol consumption, more undesirables, just to name a few.
Bigger is not better, our town has lost its charm
David L. Fox
Ocean City

Common Core Delusions
(The following letter was addressed to elected officials in Worcester County)
For the past several months, concerned citizens of your constituencies have attempted to point out to you the massive amounts of information available concerning the nationwide opposition to the implementation of the latest curriculum du jour, Common Core.
You have stated that Common Core is a “done deal” and that the “train has left the station”. The uniform talking points responses we have received from you that your group fully supports this federal takeover of your responsibilities is disappointing, to say the least, and actually is in direct conflict with the oath of office each of you swore to when you accepted your position. You have abdicated your responsibility to the taxpayers and the children of this county.
The Department of Education in Worcester County has consistently demanded and received one-half of all tax revenues collected in this county. Do you not realize that local, state and federal governments and bureaucracies in this country have spent trillions of dollars that they do not have and are leaving future generations to be saddled with the consequences of their actions?
I hereby present to you a copy of the Resolution unanimously passed by last month by the Douglas County Colorado School Board rejecting Common Core.  I also hereby submit to you a copy of a recent article which contains a chart prepared by the CATO Institute that graphically reflects the results of unending increases in spending taxpayer money and the corresponding results in education excellence.
What does Section 4 of Article 4 of the US Constitution mean to you? I encourage you to contemplate verses 20-21 of Isaiah chapter 5 when you make that decision.
Isaiah 5:20-21 New International Version (NIV): Woe to those who call evil good  and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.
Gwen L. Cordner

Art Camp A Success
A highlight of summer for the Art League is always our children’s art programs. This year the building was filled with the joy of kids making art for four weeks, during art adventure camp, which attracted 173 children ages 5-13 participated in the program.
The camp was held in partnership with the Town of OC Recreation department who handled the registrations and provided the T-shirts, goody bags and awards. Art camp was held at the new Ocean City Center for the Arts on 94 Street.
The daily activities included a variety of projects such as painting, drawing, mixed media, fiber arts, clay, jewelry making and sculpture. The kids got a chance to make their own felt, build sculpture out of ordinary materials like cereal boxes, tooth picks and paper clips, learn coil and slab clay techniques and express themselves through their artwork. Each four-day session concluded with an art reception featuring their work.
The counselors were accomplished teachers Kathi Stevens, Natalee Palmer and Angela Pierce, and they were assisted by Monika Lilley and Katie Rosinski. Some of the children had participated in previous years and had been part of the “fish project,” an installation art piece on display at the art center. Others signed up for one week and enjoyed it so much they returned for subsequent weeks.
Thanks go out to the guest artists and volunteers who came out and assisted: Barbara Doyle Schmid, Stasia Heubeck, George Hamaty, Rebecca Morgan, Eizabeth Galloway, Sharon Hilty and Betty Everson.
Our gratitude to OC Recreation Supervisor Al “Hondo” Handy, who has been inspiring young people in Ocean City for 33 years and to Kate Gaddis for her help coordinating the camp.
Mark your calendars for next year’s art adventure camp and be sure to check out the new Ocean City Center for the Arts for year round art classes for kids and adults.
Rina Thaler
Ocean City
(The writer is the executive director of the Art League of Ocean City.)