OCEAN CITY — With little to no impact on residential areas, the new public boat ramp under construction at 64th Street will be accessible 24 hours a day next summer, resort officials decided this week.
During Tuesday’s work session, City Engineer Terry McGean updated the Mayor and Council on the new public boat ramp at 64th Street and sought their input on a variety of operational issues from the hours of operation and fees for trailer parking and even if it should be attended or unattended. The new boat ramp will replace the town’s only other existing public boat ramp in the Little Salisbury area.
After years of grappling with the outdated and over-utilized boat ramp in the residential area, along with complaints of traffic, parking, noise and litter, the town identified the site at 64th Street as a more appropriate location for the city-owned boat ramp because it is surrounded by commercial and governmental uses and is located closer to the center of the resort.
Because of its location, resort officials have more flexibility on operational issues. For example, the current boat ramp in Little Salisbury is manned by a city employee who regulates to some degree the traffic and other impacts on the residential area. McGean said on Tuesday the new location presents an opportunity for a different operation.
“The recommendation is that it not be attended and that we simply charge for trailer parking,” he said. “The reason for that is because of where the ramp is located across the street from the Public Safety Building and the public works complex, I feel if we have an issue arise there it’s easy enough to go over there and police it and do a little traffic control if needed rather than posting somebody there full time.”
Because the new ramp will not be attended, there will be no fee attached to putting in and pulling boats, but the recommendation is to charge for trailer parking. The new ramp has a considerable parking area and an hourly fee will be charged to park trailers after putting boats in the water. However, there will be no overnight trailer parking permitted.
“Rather than hiring an attendant and charging a prolonged fee, we can simply put a CALE machine in the parking lot and charge people an hourly rate for parking their trailer there,” said McGean.
With the attended versus unattended issue resolved, resort officials turned the discussion to hours of operation for the new ramp at 64th Street. Largely because of residential impact concerns, the current Little Salisbury ramp is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, but again, because of its location away from any residential areas, there is an opportunity for more flexibility with the hours with the new ramp.
“As far as the hours of operation, I was thinking something like 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., or if you’d rather, sunrise to sunset,” he said. “Again, it’s a much more out of the way area now. I think much earlier in the morning is advisable because people like to get out a lot earlier than the 8 a.m. restriction we have now at the old boat ramp.”
Councilman Wayne Hartman questioned the reasoning behind limiting the hours if the new ramp is not impacting residential areas.
“If it’s not going to disturb the public, why would we restrict the hours?” he said. “Like you said, some people like to go fishing very early in the morning. It’s not unusual for someone to want to put their boat in a 4:30 a.m. or 5 o’clock. I just don’t see the purpose when there is nobody there to bother.”
In terms of the parking fees, McGean said the hourly rate is preferable to a flat fee all day.
“I think hourly is the way to go with trailer parking,” he said. “I think if it’s hourly, you might encourage some turnover in there. There’s a limited number of parking spots.”
The council unanimously approved the operations including an unattended ramp with hourly parking fees for trailers. The motion was also amended to allow the ramp to be accessible 24 hours per day.