OC’s SUP Pilot Program Advances To Ordinance Form

OCEAN CITY – A number of topics were addressed and approved this week, including a new Stand-Up Paddleboard Pilot Program, Eagle’s Landing weekend rate change, the 2014 Surfing Beach Schedule and an amendment to this current fiscal year’s budget.

SUP Ocean Use Becomes Code

Ocean City Beach Patrol (OCBP) Lt. Ward Kovacs presented a draft Stand-up Paddleboard (SUP) pilot program to the Recreation and Parks Commission last month. Commission members and the members of the Surfing Beach Sub-Committee supported the pilot program recommendations and forwarded a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and City Council for approval.

The Mayor and City Council unanimously approved the pilot program at the Feb. 18 regular session, and this week the actual ordinance came before the elected officials for consideration.

The ordinance incorporates SUP guidelines into Chapter 106, Article II, Division 2 entitled Beach Activities of Ocean City’s code. The ordinance states, “it is prohibited for any person to ride or utilize a SUP on any water adjoining or adjacent to any beach in Ocean City during the period between May 1 to September 30, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. in each year, except SUP may have full access to the ocean, including the surf zone on days when surfing is modified starting on the Monday that follows Labor Day, on days when surfing is not modified during the period from Monday following Labor Day to September 30 SUP access will be prohibited.”

The ordinance continues, “all SUP operators shall stay 50 yards away from all swimmers, waders and surfers while launching and beaching and while operating in the surf zone or beyond the surf zone, any SUP operator may be asked to return to shore if a Beach Patrol member deems their activity to be a possible hazard to the operator or other person, SUP operators must follow all applicable state and federal laws governing SUP and shall have a wearable Type I, II,III or V personal flotation device on board and whistle, SUP shall be restricted to on operator/rider per board, all SUP operators shall have a leash that attaches the operator to their board whenever they are using the board in the ocean, once beyond the breakers as determined by a OCBP member on duty the SUP shall operate in a north or south direction parallel to the beach and no further from shore than 200 yards, and when a SUP is returning to the beach while OCBP is on duty the operator shall return within 50 yards of a OCBP member on duty so the Surf Rescue Technician (SRT) can direct operator to a safe area and assist in keeping people clear until the SUP is safely under control and on the beach.”

The council voted 6-0 with Council President Lloyd martin absent to approve the ordinance in first reading.

Weekend Golf Rate Change Moves Ahead

A couple of weeks ago, Bob Croll of Eagle’s Landing Golf Course, which is owned and operated by the Town of Ocean City and based in West Ocean City, proposed an increase of certain rates to the Recreation and Parks Commission.

Croll suggested the town increase Eagle’s Landing weekend golf rates in 2015. Weekend rates are in effect Spring and Fall during the peak golf package seasons.

Croll proposed to increase the weekend rack rate by $4 as well as adjust the participating hotel and twilight rates by $4 for weekends.

The current weekend rack rate is $95. It has not changed for the past six years. In 2009, the weekend rate increased by $3 from $92.

An additional $13,800 in greens fee revenue would be expected in 2015, due to the proposed increase, and $8,000 of the revenue will be shown in the next fiscal year, or FY 2015.

With an increase of $4, the following rates are what is proposed in the 2015 weekend rate changes; $99 for Green Fee with cart; $79 for Green Fee walking; $94 for participating hotels; $74 for Twilight with cart; and $54 for Twilight walking.

The increase would keep Eagles Landing as one of the least expensive golf courses in the area compared to the most expensive with a Spring/Fall Rack Weekend rate priced at $179 and the least expensive with its Spring/Fall Rack Weekend rate priced at $85.

The commission voted unanimously to forward the request to the full Mayor and City Council for approval, and this week Commission Chair Councilman Joe Mitrecic presented Croll’s proposal to the council, who voted 6-0 to approve.

2014 Surfing Beach Schedule Approved

This summer the surfing beach rotating schedule will begin on Saturday, May 24 with the south surfing beach location located at 29th Street, the north location at Century I on 99th Street and the Inlet conditionally open depending on crowds and weather.

Each day the north and south surfing beach locations move two blocks south until the south location hits the Inlet and starts again mid-town moving south, and the North location hits mid-town and starts again in North Ocean City moving south.

The Inlet surfing beach is open through the week and conditional on weekends up until Saturday, June 28 when the Inlet becomes closed to surfers on the weekends due to crowds of visitors on the beach. The Inlet returns open on a conditional basis on the weekends starting Saturday, Aug. 23.

On Wednesday, Oct. 1 the surfing ordinance, or schedule, goes out of effect until May of 2015.

The rotating surfing beach will be established on a daily basis and marked at both the north and south boundary by a combination of Surf Beach Facilitator stands, flags and signs. The north boundary will be established approximately 50 yards north of the approved surfing beach street designation and will extend south to approximately 50 yards south of the street one block south of the approved designated surfing beach street.

The council voted 6-0 to approve the upcoming season’s surfing beach schedule.

Budget Amendment Gets Final Approval

According to Budget Manager Jennie Knapp, the budget amendment appropriates an additional $1.6 million from fund balance to cover council approved expenditures for canal dredging, street paving, maintenance items and the purchase of an ambulance and a Boardwalk sweeper. An additional $530,000 of appropriated fund balance is included to cover items included in the FY13 budget, but not purchased.

Items included in the amendment are the town’s local match for the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus for the Fire Company, Tourism Advisory Board funds and prior year purchase orders.

The amendment also recognizes grants, including the state tourism grant and county grants exceeding the budgeted amount are included in the amendment as well. Additionally, parking revenue estimates are reduced to account for meters that have been removed as a result of a petition effort throughout the summer season.

The amount taken from prior year reserves increases $2,138,351 from $247,066 in the FY14 Adopted budget to $2,385,417. Fund balance remains at or above the 15 percent of annual expenditures policy target. Appropriations of $1.6 million to cover capital projects, maintenance items and vehicles were approved by the Council on October 1, 2013.

The council voted 6-0 to approve the budget amendment on second reading.