Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – January 13, 2017

It appears Ocean City’s trash has become Salisbury’s treasure. The iconic 50-foot artificial Christmas tree that has long been the centerpiece of the resort’s Winterfest of Lights display at Northside Park has been deemed to have outlived its useful life and was recently offered for sale on govdeals.com. Apparently, the city of Salisbury has purchased the 50-foot tree reportedly for around $2,800.

While Salisbury will likely find a way to restore the 50-foot tree and utilize it in its own municipal holiday displays in the future, this is a lost opportunity I think for Ocean City to repurpose it in some way. Potential sites in the downtown area that come to mind include the field on Philadelphia Avenue between 4th and 3rd streets or maybe even as the centerpiece to a new effort at the Inlet.

Readers will recall just last week the Mayor and Council signed off on boosting the Light Up OC campaign aimed at restoring holiday decorations in all areas of the resort, the first phase of which includes repurposing some of the displays at Northside Park that have outlived their usefulness as part of Winterfest and moving them to other parts of town during the holiday season.

Berlin Mayor Gee Williams took the proverbial gloves off this week when it came time for him to address a petition effort aimed at encouraging the town to rename the new Berlin Falls Park. It was obvious he had some pent-up agitation over this grassroots petition and he vented at this week’s meeting.

After being presented with a petition that contained about 300 signatures, according to organizer Bill Todd, the town council didn’t have to do anything. It could have simply accepted the petition for further deliberation and left it at that. However, an idea by Councilman Zackery Tyndall to create a committee to weigh in on naming rights for town properties was approved.

Before that decision, however, the mayor let Todd and others in audience know his opinion on their petition effort. He cleared didn’t appreciate it, particularly the fact Todd never discussed the matter with him or members of the council. It’s worth noting this was just an informal process and there was nothing official about this petition, which surely contained duplicate signatures and included non-Berlin residents.

Three hundred signatures on a petition and predictable support on social media from friends on a well-intentioned citizen initiative do not represent an outpouring of support. In fact, most people I speak with do not support the Tingle Park effort, but they do question the Berlin Falls moniker. Nonetheless, an argument could be made the mayor went overboard with his criticism of the citizens behind this campaign.

“This effort, the way it was handled, this is Mickey Mouse,” he said. “This is not the way a representative government works. No one called me. No one called the council. … This is in this council’s experience the first social media driven petition in our history. It does not meet any of the standards I think are critical to a fair and well represented government. I think this is the wrong thing, the wrong way at the wrong time. Nobody even bothered to ask.”

Surely the town council understands this petition does not represent a community-wide desire to see the park name changed. It’s clear the park will not be named after James Tingle, who worked the streets of Berlin as a mailman for many years. That’s how it should be. The more appropriate course would be to allow this new committee to explore naming individual trails, specific areas and amenities at the park after leading citizens. Maybe Tingle can be one of those individuals, maybe not. I personally think naming a trail after Tingle considering his profession would be a good idea.

I like really like the concept of beautifying Ocean City’s beach trash cans. Certainly, in the grand scheme of things, this is not a huge deal, but it’s the little things that improve experiences.

A trash can beautification project has been successful in other areas, particularly in Florida, and I could foresee this effort really taking off. The devil will be in the details as far as carrying this endeavor out. There are more questions than answers at this point, but the initial discussion this week was valuable and positive.

There are hundreds of the blue trash cans on the beach during the beach season. Setting a goal of having art added to a dozen or so each year would seem reasonable, but there needs to be some parameters on the artwork. It shouldn’t be commercial in nature at all. They should not be used as advertisements.

I would envision nautical and beach scenes specific to Ocean City as logical art options. That appears to be what took place in Cocoa Beach, Fla. While the outcome of Councilman Tony DeLuca’s idea is unknown, it’s certainly worth the time and effort to explore further as they would make nice additions to the beach.

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.