OCEAN CITY — Beyond many of the resort area’s sparkling dining rooms and well-polished bars is often a no man’s land of dumpsters, grease traps and mop buckets, but some Ocean City officials are pushing for tighter standards for Ocean City’s hospitality businesses.
Areas behind Ocean City’s restaurants, bars and hotels have long been a problem in terms of maintenance and appearances and to a large degree it’s an inherent part of the business. One would be hard pressed to find an Ocean City hospitality-related business without an often unsightly collection of dumpsters, trash cans, floor mats, grease receptacles, old shelves and beer kegs behind them.
The ly areas are not kept that way maliciously or negligently, and most responsible owners and operators go to great lengths to keep their back doors nearly as attractive as their front doors. Many others attempt to educate their employees on safe handling of mop water, cleaning fluids and other chemicals, but keeping up appearances presents challenges.
To that end, Ocean City’s Coastal Resources Legislative Committee is teaming with its hospitality partners to address some of the problems and create greater awareness of the direct link between the hospitality byproducts and the town’s storm drains.
City Environmental Engineer Gail Blazer broached the subject at last week’s Coastal Resources Legislative Committee meeting.
“We’re seeing an increasing problem with the back of some of our restaurants in terms of what the dumpsters look like, the grease traps and generally what it looks like out the back door,” Blazer told committee members. “I think we need to look into how to change some of the behaviors and increase awareness and education.”
Blazer explained it has become a problem around town with kitchens hosed down and washed directly out the back door, floor mats, shelving, grills and all manner of equipment scrubbed down outside where the water discharges directly into the town’s storm drains.
“Storm drains don’t drain into the wastewater system,” she said. “It goes right out where we swim, fish and recreate. Any wastewater that goes into the street is a direct input to our coastal bays and wetlands.”
Blazer said there are ordinances on the books preventing illegal discharges, but she preferred to explore the education and outreach first.
“There are littering laws and discharge laws,” she said. “I could write citations, but I think we would rather educate than penalize if we can.”
Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association Executive Director Susan Jones said her members would work with Blazer on alleviating some of the problems with increased awareness and potential seminars for getting the information and proper procedures to restaurant personnel.