Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – November 4, 2016

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – November 4, 2016

It was interesting during this week’s candidate forum at the American Legion in Ocean City to see a question about last summer’s infamous Boardwalk melee. Back on July 24, a large unruly crowd of young individuals created a ruckus on the boards that led to 12 arrests. It was a sketchy and unsafe scene, according to witnesses on the Boardwalk that night.

During the forum, a question was asked about how the town and its police department prepared for similar events in the past and work to prevent them from occurring in the future.

Councilman Doug Cymek said the Ocean City Police Department has in place a sophisticated intelligence unit that monitors social media and other outlets for unforeseen events in the resort.

“We’re way ahead of the curve on that,” he said. “We have people on intel at the Ocean City Police Department monitoring social media and Twitter. At the intel center, we have pictures of the troublemakers they need to look out for.”

With that said, it was nice to see Mayor Rick Meehan admit the system is not perfect as was evidenced by this crowd taking the OCPD by surprise based on the time of the season.

“This is one that came in under the radar and we’re not sure how it got under the radar,” he said. “There was a large group of young adults in Ocean City in the third week of July, which is a little unique, and some of the people that came along with that group caused some problems.”

Meehan said rest assured, the OCPD and its surveillance and intelligence units would be carefully monitoring similar events in the future and steps would be taken to help ensure there was no repeat of last year’s Boardwalk melee.

“The intelligence is there,” he said. “Everyone is welcome in Ocean City if they obey our laws and be courteous to our residents and visitors. If that doesn’t happen, we will take care of it accordingly.”

Financial details about private project loans are not something typically disclosed without a fight. That’s why it was a surprise to get a press release from Applied Bank of Delaware detailing how it recently closed a $21 million “construction and permanent mortgage transaction for financing” the new Hyatt Place Hotel on 16th Street that will replace the old Seascape Motel.

The press release detailed a little more about the development, which is being carried out by PRBR Hospitality, LLC, which has owned the property for 28 years. The seven-story hotel project will feature 105 rooms, a restaurant, bar, outdoor veranda, meeting rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center and six retail shops along the Boardwalk.

Why it took so long remains a question, but the good news is the Worcester County Commissioners and the Worcester County Board of Education finally got on the same page with the Showell Elementary School reconstruction project.

Tuesday’s approval seemed entirely too scripted and the conspiracy theorist inside me thinks the project’s approval was planned to coincide with new Superintendent of Schools Lou Taylor’s first official day on the job. Taylor was credited for getting the project to the point of approval by slicing about $3.5 million from the overall price tag. If that’s true, then it would appear obvious former Superintendent Dr. Jerry Wilson must have been unwilling to eliminate parts of the project to cut costs, resulting in the stalemate that was evident in recent months.

Something seems a bit awry with how this project all of a sudden came to meeting the commissioners’ approval. It was long thought it was about the price tag and the school system’s unwillingness to hear the commissioners’ concerns. That seems a definite after this week’s quick approval, which came apparently after a lot of behind the scenes work by Taylor and presumably Commission President Jimmy Bunting.

Whatever the case, it was great to see this project is finally moving ahead.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.