Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Due to the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P) filing for bankruptcy again and a fire sale of many stores underway as a result of liquidation, there have been many questions about the future of the local stores over the last month. Some details are starting to become clear now.

The Superfresh store on 95th Street will be changing to an Acme. The store is considered a Tier I store and among the most profitable of the brand, thanks in large part to the massive volume associated with the tourism season. The same goes for the Rehoboth, Del. store. Word is Acme officials have already been in the Ocean City store speaking with employees and conducting site research.

The huge unknown and probably carrying the biggest impact on local residents is the fate of the West Ocean City Superfresh store, which is located inside the Tanger Outlets. The West Ocean City store is considered a Tier II store, which is termed a “non-core” operation that A&P has on the selling block but no official takers at this time. I understand one hurdle here is a lease with Tanger and at this point it’s unclear if another grocery store chain is welcome in that location.

More will play out here in the coming months, but the current uncertainty for the West Ocean City store is certainly keeping the local rumor mill abuzz.

I hope I’m wrong but I think Ocean City could be headed toward a revolving door when it comes to the city manager position. I wrote about this in 2012 prior to David Recor taking the job as well.

Since Ocean City changed to a council-manager form of government from a strong mayoral role in the mid-1980s, Ocean City has had just four city managers — Tony Barrett, Joe Braun, Dennis Dare and Recor. That’s impressive when considering Braun didn’t even last a month.

Dare was city manager for 21 years and his successor, Recor, barely made three years. The reality here is the chances the short stint served by Recor repeats itself with another outside candidate is much more likely than another long tenure like Dare’s happening again after an internal promotion.

Even if the city hires from within, it looks likely another city manager vacancy will probably be in its not so distant future. Most qualified candidates on the inside, such as City Engineer Terry McGean and Public Works Director Hal Adkins, are nearing retirement age, or at least have to be mulling their eligibility, as Adkins has 31 years in and McGean has 25 years with the city. Adkins turned the job down three years ago as a result of political turmoil and the fact the council was not unanimously in favor of him moving into that role for a variety of reasons. Word is now he’s not going to be a candidate this time around by his own choice.

It seems there will be plenty of time to consider the city manager post’s future. Like what transpired with the last city manager opening in 2011, it looks like it will be a long process, as the job opening has not yet been posted on the International City/County Management Association website as of Thursday morning or the city’s website. That will likely take place after the city picks a company to handle the nationwide search, and the idea might be to get through the summer season before diving into the process.

My prediction is it will be next spring before the city has its next chief executive with Mayor Rick Meehan serving as acting city manager for about nine months — the same time period he served after Dare’s forced retirement.

The Ocean City Mayor and Council added some much-needed perspective to the ongoing rental situation in the resort this week.

This issue has polarized the community and the council seemed to make it clear Tuesday it wants to come up with a short-term plan while working in some permanent changes into a possible comprehensive rezoning as part of the upcoming Comprehensive Plan drafting process.

A couple days before the council discussed the matter this week, an editorial in The Baltimore Sun was published. It essentially mirrors this newspaper’s position dating back to last summer.

“Let those neighborhoods create their own homeowners associations and approve whatever restrictions on parking or noise they might like,” it read. “At least the town needs to find out if its current education and enforcement efforts are having any effect on the problem. If not, the town could always raise the fines for noise violations, punish property management agencies that fail to properly supervise their rentals, hire more police officers to enforce the law or take other steps to ensure good behavior. Better to explore those possibilities than deny people the ability to rent their properties to vacationers and potentially put some homeowners — and perhaps Ocean City‘s economy — in a bind.”