Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – September 29, 2017

Once Columbus Day weekend passes next month, many significant projects will get underway around the area. Two of the most significant Ocean City will likely get a lot of attention. While beach replenishment and a median divider are about as different as they come in scale, the common denominator is they are controversial projects and each cost more than $4 million.

Generally, beach replenishment is frowned upon from the surf community because the feeling is it removes the offshore sand bar and prevents waves from naturally rolling in as they should. The types of waves we have been seeing over the last month actually with offshore tropical activity. Additionally, concerns have been heard from many that it leads to dangerous shore break conditions and more rip currents. It’s a dialogue with passion and science on both sides of the argument, but the federal, state and local commitment to funding beach replenishment seems firm at this point. That’s how it should be in my opinion.

While the beach replenishment disagreement is an old one, the debate over whether the median fence project in Ocean City is a good thing is relatively new. Many think it’s a waste of $4 million because people will just leapfrog it once it’s built, providing even more safety hazards, rather than encouraging them to cross at the stoplights. Others think it’s an important safety addition to an area specifically ripe with jaywalkers, many of whom are under the influence because of the numerous bars in the area. Personally, I’m for the first phase of it and especially look forward to the improved lighting aspect of the work. Once it’s in place next summer and can be reviewed from a safety perspective, I may join the detractors but for now I think it could in fact save lives and serve as the impediment needed to make people stop crossing mid-block.

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In the spring, the Ocean City Mayor and Council approved a $79,000 funding request to enhance the city’s Winterfest of Lights display for its 25th anniversary. Believe it or not, work on the festival of lights at Northside Park is well underway. In fact, it’s been underway since Labor Day.

At issue this week was a request to use all of that money even though the stated plans for the funding came in significantly under budget. Of the $79,000, there was $33,000 left over after the initial plan was completed of redoing certain structures and adding different elements. The request this week was to use the rest of the funding for other improvements to Winterfest that were not initially pitched.

It’s a no brainer to continue to enhance the event, which will celebrate its 25th year in Ocean City. It’s been a while since a measured investment has been made to the displays at Northside Park. That’s why the initial funding was approved and included in the budget. The fact not all of it was used with the initial efforts is great news. More additions and changes can be made than originally expected with the same dollar amount budgeted.

Winterfest is an exceptional event and the timing is right to introduce some new displays for the anniversary season. The fact these enhancements can be used in future years is even better and made for an easy decision.

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Typically the golden rule with this publication is to stay away from national news. That will always be the guiding light here but there are exceptions several times a year including right now.

For me, the sadness of a summer season winding down is tempered somewhat with the onset of football season. Nothing that happened last weekend with the peaceful protests of kneeling or sitting during the National Anthem changed that. I will still be watching football this weekend. I’m guessing most of you will be as well.

I don’t look to the NFL when it comes to political stances on race relations and reactions to the president’s ridiculous tweets. I don’t care what these athletes think on these matters. It’s not that I think they are wrong or misinformed about the issues that bother them. I just look to them for entertainment and would prefer to keep it that way.

I felt the same way last Saturday as I listened to numerous musicians rant against the president while taking the stage at Central Park in New York City for the Global Citizen Festival. I just want to hear the music. On Sunday I just want to watch these athletes play. I don’t look to musicians or athletes for political viewpoints. It’s fine they have them and want to share them. How they express them is just irrelevant to me.

These are conflicting times and there’s so much to react to at any given moment. Extreme positions are everywhere these days and there’s little acceptance for those who don’t share the same views and values. That’s a shame because that’s what makes our culture great. We can hold varying positions with passion but we should all agree on expressing ourselves in a fashion that’s not disrespectful to our country or each other. That goes for our president as well as our athletes and musicians.

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.