Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Ocean City is poised to pass emergency legislation next week banning the sale of knives as well as laser pointers in town limits. This is specifically targeted at the Boardwalk and has apparently been a topic city officials have been discussing over the winter and spring months. This is a solid move and one that needed to be done years ago. As Councilman Doug Cymek, chair of the police commission, said this week, “It is long overdue.”

In an interview last summer, Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro gave an indication the city might be headed in this direction.

“We have concerns on the Boardwalk. We are going to do whatever it takes to maintain peace and order on the Boardwalk within the parameters of the law. Some of our concerns on the Boardwalk lie with some of the items being sold and what type of element does that attract. We talk about beer bongs, underage drinking, explicit T-shirts and there are still merchants that sell knives. Why does anyone need to sell knives on the Boardwalk? They are not Swiss Army knives by the way just for clarification. We have seen an uptick in weapons violations. Is that a causal type of phenomenon? We are looking at that,” he said. “We are not in this alone. Our effectiveness and success is predicated on a community relationship. It’s also the relationship of the merchants and the merchants policing themselves. It’s the lease owners as well who need to police themselves and talk with the leasees. They have to give us a helping hand. We need to clean up some things, quite honestly, as we move forward.”

While the laser pointers are a nuisance, it’s the knives that are most in need of being addressed on the Boardwalk. They simply should not be available for purchase. Nothing good can come from it and some incidents in recent summers can be traced to this sort of merchandise being available for purchase along the Boardwalk.

Since the merchants will not police themselves and the landlords will not intervene in their tenants’ unscrupulous business practices, the city had no other choice but to prohibit their sale. The next step will be for the police department to go undercover and make sure they are indeed not being sold even with the new ban. History confirms some businesses will still offer them for sale in a covert fashion.

Congratulations to the Ocean City Elks Lodge and its Veterans Committee for bringing the concept to hang banners along the Boardwalk recognizing active duty personnel to Ocean City.

Back in January, the lodge came before the Mayor and Council to ask permission to implement an Ocean City Hometown Heroes Military Banner Program, similar to one learned about in Temecula, Calif., and the council approved the request.

Five months later, the banners are hanging and they are an outstanding addition to the Boardwalk.

The idea is for the banners to hang on light poles in 16 different locations from the pier to 4th Street from Springfest to Sunfest each year. The banners have already been received extremely well on social media as loved ones have posted pictures of their family member’s banner.

The club raised the money for these banners and there was no cost to the city, which merely had to okay the initiative. The plan apparently is for the banners to be presented to the family of the active service personnel after Sunfest.

Clueless would be a good way to describe the promoters who came to Ocean City this week to pitch their idea of having a foam dance party on the beach on July 5.

Special events are critical to Ocean City and its businesses, but this event was doomed from the start. To begin with, the proposed date of July 5 was ridiculous and confirms the promoters have no understanding of Ocean City’s season. Holding a foam beach party on N. Division Street on July 5, one of the busiest days of the year in Ocean City, would be a nightmare.

Add to that the entire concept, which features music and lighting designed toward young people, and the fact it’s run into problems in the past and comes with a stern warning from Wildwood, N.J., which hosted the event a few years ago, it was a no-brainer to advise the promoters Ocean City is not the place for them, at least under the current plan.

Since there has been no serious talk of Ocean City bringing back the beach playgrounds in a year, it was no surprise to hear this week the city is having a difficult time with the matter.

Although it has been coined a priority in the town’s strategic plan, it appears the issue is not as simple as it might seem on the surface. Along with funding uncertainties, the major hiccups are the city wants the playgrounds to be open-aired to avoid past concerns and they must be able to be removed from the beach.

Readers will recall the previous wooden playgrounds had become safety hazards because they were aging and unable to be maintained properly. Additionally, there was the filth issue, as they were often used as restrooms, havens for drug use and hideouts for sexual acts.

It’s looking like the discussion will return to the city’s elected officials sometime early next year, according to Recreation and Parks Director Susan Petito, who summed up the matter this week.

“Compliancy, practicality, safety, use and misuse practices, liability and funding are all factors which must be seriously considered. Simply replacing the previous ‘backyard’ type structures, though much-loved by their users, is no longer a practical option for the town,” she said.