City Manager Reviews Strategic Plan

OCEAN CITY — When it comes to Ocean City’s 2016 strategic plan, a road map of sorts for the next five years, City Manager Doug Miller is clearly bullish on the resort.

Miller provided an update on the 2016 strategic plan to the Mayor and Council on Tuesday and he is clearly pleased with its progress. The strategic plan creates goals for the resort for the next five years in terms of balancing the unique tourism-nature of the town and the quality of life for its residents, for example, and provides a road map for how to accomplish those goals.

Boiled down to its simplest terms, the 2016 strategic plan includes two visions for Ocean City for the next five years. The first is maintaining the town as a vibrant coastal resort community with a world-class public beach and an historic Boardwalk that has become the vacation destination for millions each year. The second stated vision is maintaining Ocean City as a safe, clean, livable community with quality neighborhoods for residents. The strategic plan is essentially a blue print for accomplishing both, and Miller said Ocean City leaders, through months of the process, are well on its way to achieving them.

“Few governments are as proactive as the Town of Ocean City,” he said. “The town has really embraced the strategic plan process and has created a vision and mapped out a plan to get there.”

Miller defined the five stated goals for the 2016 strategic plan including maintaining a first-class resort and tourist destination, achieving financially sound government, creating a more livable community for year-round residents, continuing excellent public service through a high-performing town organization and revitalizing Ocean City through well-planned development and redevelopment. Accomplishing all of those goals while satisfying all of the groups that live in and enjoy the resort continues to create challenges, but the strategic plan provides a road map for doing that.

“We basically have four constituencies — residents, businesses, non-resident property owners and tourists,” he said. “Without a doubt, we are the top family-oriented tourist destination and that does not come without its challenges. We saw that last summer and we will continue to face those challenges.”

Maintaining a healthy balance between a resort community visited by millions while improving the quality of life for its roughly 7,000 year-round visitors has been the subject of much debate and became a campaign issue prior to the municipal election last month. Miller, who was named city manager early this year, said despite the challenges, Ocean City is able to pull that off for the most part.

“Even though tourism is the number-one industry, we do want to maintain a livable community for our residents and we’re able to accomplish that,” he said. “I’ve been a visitor to Ocean City all of my life and now we’re residents. This is the only town we’ve ever lived in where my wife hasn’t made me buy bottled water.”

Miller said through the strategic plan process, several fundamental aspects of the vision for Ocean City going forward have been discussed, from public safety and public works to infrastructure improvements and fiscally sound government. Combined, they create a solid quality of life for residents and visitors.

“We feel very safe here and there has been a lot done to make Ocean City a safe, livable 12-month community,” he said. “When it comes to municipal services delivery, we are second to none. Ocean City has become the model for many communities.”

Miller said the 2016 strategic plan is a work in progress with some sections complete and others in need of tweaking.

“I think we’ve made great progress in seven months,” he said. “We still have challenges, but we’ve embraced the strategic plan process and we’re going to deliver on that.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.