Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Assateague Island is one of my favorite places, and it was interesting this week to watch a 15-minute You Tube video titled “Saving Assateague” prepared by the Assateague Island National Seashore on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the legislation that protected it from development forever. I recommend watching it on the seashore’s You Tube channel.

It includes some old footage of houses being constructed on the island and the speech President Lyndon Johnson made announcing the ratification of the protection legislation on Sept. 21, 1965.

“We are living in a century of change, but if future generations are to remember us with more gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than the miracles of technology. We must also leave them with a glimpse of the world as God really made it, not just as it looked when we got through with it,” the president said. “Thanks to this bill, we can now do that with Assateague Island. It stretches some 33 miles along the Maryland and Virginia coastline. This is the last undeveloped seashore between Massachusetts and North Carolina. … One fifth of all the people in our nation live within an easy day’s drive of Assateague, and now as the result … these wide sandy beaches will be the people’s to enjoy forever.”

Although most around here would never favor Nor’easter-like conditions on the weekend, there’s no secret most government and law enforcement officials would have gladly taken it next weekend when the H2O International event returns.

Although the public’s perception of the crowds the event brings with it is largely negative, and understandably so, I give credit to the organizer of the event — Jay Shoup — for doing his part to try and reign in the misbehavior and rude sense of entitlement among the car owners that has been commonplace over the last two years specifically.

Shoup has been using the H2O International’s social media platform to issue reminders about following the laws and representing the auto community better while here. On the event’s Facebook page and Twitter account on Sept. 16, a post read, “Ocean City is ready for us … Please be respectful of the town, businesses and the locals/visitors. Respect gets respect.”

While the efforts deserve recognition, the problem is the majority of Shoup’s online audience is most likely not the cause of the problems seen in recent years. Like with the Cruisin’ events, it’s the groups that have nothing to do with the organized activities that raise the ruckus without a care in the world.

It’s not a stretch to report Ocean City began planning for next weekend’s event, which is based at Fort Whaley campground on Route 50, the day after last year’s nightmare. There’s considerable interest in seeing if the new measures and approach will be successful after months of discussions.

It’s remarkable that it’s been 30 years since tropical activity had a disastrous impact on Ocean City. That was one of the reason why I thought it was important to look back at Hurricane Gloria on its 30th anniversary.

The most recent storms of note to influence Ocean City were Hurricane Sandy in late October of 2012 and Hurricane Irene in late August of 2011. Sandy dealt a significant blow to Ocean City, but most of the damage was limited to the beach with little long-term infrastructure damage. There was minor damage associated with Irene, but its significance was largely monetary because it wiped out a summer weekend due to an evacuation.

Along with the loss of revenue for the city, the big takeaway from Irene was how Ocean City needed to do a much better job of communicating with the public. By the time Sandy rolled around the next year, the improvement was significant.

With Gloria, the teaching moments were evident as well and the damage sustained went a long way toward shaping the town as it’s known today. Without Gloria, beach replenishment and the sea wall along the Boardwalk may not have become the no-brainer decision they became in the weeks after the damage was assessed.

At the close of Monday’s Ocean City Mayor and Council meeting, Mayor Rick Meehan voiced frustration on the constant negative input from certain members of the audience.

“Sometimes I’m astounded by some of the things I hear during the comments from the public and sometimes they really don’t relate to the functioning of government and they can sometimes be very personal and one-liners I guess meant to draw attention to the speaker rather than anything else,” he said.

Meehan went on to suggest the city’s elected officials encourage input from the public, but drew on a popular children’s fable in his assessment of some of the repetitious comments from the council’s detractors.

“I think the Mayor and Council go to great lengths to resolve issues, not create them, and to work with the community and take input, and when you hear the same thing it’s kind of like the little boy who cried wolf all the time and it loses its impact, and I see a couple of wolves in the audience, or little boys, anyway,” the mayor said.