Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – January 6, 2017

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – January 6, 2017

At least one of my predictions made last week for this year has already turned out to be wrong. I forecasted last week that the Ocean City median fence project would be plagued by delays and not be ready until the Fourth of July weekend rather than the planned Memorial Day completion date.

After word came down this week that the median project has been scrapped for this spring because of a high bid, it’s looking like I might have been more accurate to predict the Fourth of July 2018 as the end date.

Although the second bidding process could yield more favorable results, it’s not looking good for the median project at this point. It appears the state is going to take another shot at the bid process this spring, but it’s unclear at this point what will change as far as number of bidders and the financial scale of the project.

If the redo of the bid process comes back with similar numbers in the $6 million range, it may be time to consider scrapping the project altogether.

The Berlin Town Council will reportedly be presented next week with the results of an informal, grassroots petition effort aimed at renaming the new Berlin Falls Park as James Tingle Park.

As I have opined in recent months, I don’t think that’s appropriate. I would instead favor an approach to naming the specific amenities within the park after worthy individuals, including Tingle, the retired postal carrier. That point of view was outlined a few weeks in an editorial.

Rather than focusing on the name, I think those in favor of renaming the park are better suited to focus their efforts on what gets funded first. I’m interested to hear details of what the town has in mind as far as the water fall feature, but agree with petition supporters that an amenity focused on the area’s youth like a skate park facility or youth sports fields should be the top priority. That’s an immediate need that will be popular from the beginning.

Based on the mayor’s comments last month and others I have spoken with who have lived here for years, I don’t think there’s enough support for the Tingle Park effort. People are more focused on what’s planned for the park and when can major changes be expected to the open space. That’s what most people want to know in my opinion.

Campgrounds have become a controversial topic in the area in light of two significant projects about to enter Worcester County’s planning process.

There is the proposed redevelopment of the Bay Club golf course property into a campground west of Berlin as well as the Ayres Creek campground project slated for the old Creek Club golf property (most recently known as Pine Shore South). Add to these projects the permitted campground off Route 50 at the Deer Run golf course property and there certainly would appear to be a major spike in camp sites coming to northern Worcester County.

Each of the two campgrounds seeking the requisite permits and approvals face their own issues.

The Ayres Creek project is dealing with an organized group of residents who oppose it for environmental and traffic reasons. The question on that property will be whether the county’s planning department and planning commission will see their concerns as valid enough for not approving the rezoning application. It’s going to be an interesting debate because both sides raise legitimate points to substantiate their claims.

The Bay Club project faces two obstacles in my mind. First is whether it’s going to be a successful campground in the first place, as many in the industry believe it will faces challenges based on the fact it’s isolated away from water. Sources close to the development have said for some time there would be a water park of some sort and another kid amenity included in the final development plans. The other major issue with this project is traffic. The only way I can see this project getting approved is if there’s an access point to Route 50 created that keeps the mobile homes out of Berlin.

Each have their own issues, but the fact is campgrounds are popular and profitable right now. There’s a demand for them and the supply does not meet that currently. The same can be said for hotels and that’s why we are experiencing that boom currently as well.

The plan to replace rotten and worn planks along the Boardwalk for $38,000 sounds too good to be true considering another bid topped $400,000.

Ocean City Public Works Director Hal Adkins acknowledged as much this week, but nonetheless expressed confidence in the winning bidder based on previous experience and familiarity with the contractor’s work. When asked if that amount was even realistic this week by an elected official, Adkins summed it up well.

“I have seen contractors just trying to hold on in the winter months and keep people working and that might be the case here,” he said. “He might just be doing it at cost. Then again, he has broken it down with unit prices. It’s a legitimate bid and not just a lump sum.”

In other words, you do whatever you have to do in the winter.

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.