Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Extensions of big brother’s reach generally deserve scorn, but I think the license plate readers at the Routes 50 and 90 entrances to Ocean City and soon to be at Route 1 at the state line are obvious exceptions.

This technology is a wise investment, particularly in a transient area like Ocean City. Look no further than last week’s arrest of a fugitive and the apprehension of suspects in a stolen vehicle as evidence that it’s a new crime fighting tool.

The new reader set to be added at the Maryland-Delaware line is being heralded as a way to stop heroin from being transported over state lines. While time will tell if that turns out to be true with arrests and drug seizures, it’s nice to know all of the resort’s entry points are being actively monitored.

The Fenwick Town Council has a significant decision to make later this month in regards to the future of the Sands Motel property on Route 1. The property was recently sold and the new owner wants to demolish it and build a 78-room hotel compared to the currently allowed 39, but he needs a code change to make that happen.

Current law says only one room per 1,000 square feet is permitted, and the developer is seeking one room per 500 square feet. The Charter and Ordinance Committee opined one room per 600 square feet is acceptable, but the council will have the final say.

This is a serious matter before the council, but it would be unfair to the applicant — developer Spiro Buas — to reject his specific request out of fear of what could come down the line years from now if other properties change hands. The ordinance can be specifically tailored to allow for case-by-case reviews to address concerns that Fenwick will become commercialized like Ocean City with this change. Safeguards can be put in place to ensure the integrity of the Route 1 corridor through Fenwick is protected.

There is a potential major property reinvestment opportunity here and the town’s businesses and nearby property owners would all benefit by seeing this property upgraded.

Change is tough, but this is not a situation where one decision will lead to nothing but franchise hotels in Fenwick. This is a specific case of a wise reinvestment in a property that needs upgrading. To make that happen, more rooms are needed to bring in more revenue to help pay for the major infrastructure investment.

The City Manager application process has finally begun in Ocean City.

Last month Slavin Management Consultants indicated the city manager search process, estimated to cost about $22,000, should be completed by the end of this year. That’s ambitious in my opinion given the slow start to the effort. I think it will be early spring before David Recor’s replacement is at City Hall.

After selecting Slavin, the second step of the process was posting the job vacancy. The deadline for interested candidates has been posted as Oct. 2. To be considered, a candidate’s packet must include a letter of application, detailed resume, salary history and five work-related references.

The job was posted Thursday and it read in part, “The Mayor and Council of Ocean City, Maryland, one of the East Coast’s premier seashore resort communities, invites applications from qualified candidates for the position of City Manager. Ocean City, with a year round population of 7,100 and a summer population which grows to 335,000 during peak periods operates under the Council-Manager form of government … The City Manager, appointed by the Council, manages the daily operations of the Town, develops the Town’s annual budget request, implements Council approved policies and serves as the Town’s chief financial officer. … operates with an adopted FY 2016 total budget of $124 million and a full-time staff of 533 that grows to 1,400 during peak summer periods.”

The most notable piece in that post was the claim that the summer time population surges to 335,000, which must have come from the demoflush calculation that was supposedly never being used again.

If you haven’t seen the video of the wild horse kicking a lifeguard on Assateague, be sure to check it out. It underscores the safety warning to never stand behind a horse as well as not interacting too closely with the wild animals. You can see it on our Facebook page. It’s okay to laugh because the lifeguard was uninjured.

Every time I go to the beach in Ocean City I’m always interested in observing the smoking situation.

By and large, the new smoking restrictions are not being adhered to by the majority. Most people just light up in their chairs as they have always done. Whether it’s an intentional snub to the designated smoking sites or simply being unaware of the orange barrel at the street end is unclear.

Last Saturday the paper law nature of the new smoking restrictions on the beach was evident. A couple waded into the ocean each smoking cigarettes. The woman stayed in the knee deep area smoking while the man went past the breakers with cigarette in tow. He eventually tossed the cigarette directly into the ocean before diving under a wave. The woman put her out in the ocean and then carried it back to her area. It was a disgusting sight.

In the interest of fairness, it was nice to see three women standing around an orange receptacle smoking that same day. That was the only group I saw, however.