If a task force is to review and recommend changes for motorized events in Ocean City, it needs to be assembled soon and get to work in an efficient manner advancing a plan aimed at immediately addressing the wealth of concerns associated with them.
At this point, after several years of ruckus and despicable behavior by folks drawn to Ocean City by the Cruisin and H2Oi events, the only non-option is to do nothing about these troublesome, albeit profitable, events for the Ocean City area.
A good starting point for this task force is to review the action plan created and approved by the Ocean City Police Commission. The task force – which will be appointed by Mayor Rick Meehan – needs to work with haste over the next few months and craft a proposal for the Mayor and Council to review shortly after the first of the year. The hope should be to get some serious changes in place for the roadways, at least, before the spring Cruisin weekend.
The process that has played out in response to the troublesome and dangerous motorized events of the spring and fall has been awkward. It should have been handled better. If a task force was discussed and the agreed upon direction of the city in strategic planning sessions in the fall, then it should have been followed through on that decision in short order. That would have been the appropriate course of action rather than the police commission putting forward major suggestions for the council to review and enact. Although it wasn’t the case, the fact the action plan was drafted in a closed session without input from the promoters and business community makes it seem like it was going to be approved without much fanfare.
The release of the action plan, approved by the commission and presented to the council, caused an uproar last Friday afternoon because it suggests drastic changes. Whether the extreme reaction was the result of the bold recommendations themselves or the feeling among the business community that it was blindsided is unclear. It’s probably a mix of both.
The action plan contains, most notably, a recommendation to encourage the H2Oi promoter to remove its event from the lower shore and for the city to no longer allow Boardwalk parades during Cruisin as well as to stop allowing the daily car shows to take place at the Inlet and convention center parking lots. Additionally, and these are the aspects we think deserve serious deliberations, there are a host of operational and strategical changes, such as rolling roadblocks, a curfew, closing Baltimore Avenue from 15th to 33rd streets, temporary speed bumps on the highway, increasing camera surveillance usage to track burnouts and the like and working with legislators to create a Special Event Zone, which would intensify the fine and repercussions for spinning wheels and other hazardous, yet common, rebellious acts by vehicles associated with these events in the past.
The action plan deserves a detailed review by the task force as a starting point. There are suggestions worth weighing, particularly the Special Event Zone designation that will add some teeth to some of the common infractions seen in Ocean City during these events. The message that visitors are welcome but expected to adhere to common laws will only be heard with a heavy hand.
There was a lot of strong talk from the business community against the action plan presented by the police commission. However, we think there’s a lot to consider in this document moving ahead, particularly those involving town code and state law changes that will provide police the opportunity to crack down on violators on the spot.
Other than approving measures that result in these events having to end or relocate, the only true way to curtail the negative behaviors associated with them is to make it incredibly uncomfortable and miserable for the offenders and troublemakers.
It will be the role of the task force to recommend serious changes aimed at making these weekends more tolerable for everyone. It might not be possible, but here’s the opportunity for this diverse group to offer its own recommendations that must have a short-term impact. Another year of the same serious problems from these motor vehicle events cannot occur. Serious changes that a majority can tolerate must be a result of this effort.