It’s always challenging getting a read on business success in Ocean City, but it was especially so last weekend. Generally speaking, which I know is dangerous territory, it appears business hopes for last weekend were not met, as many expected last weekend to bring a major Fourth of July holiday boost to the area.
The good news is, however, by mid-week it seemed this weekend (the one following the holiday) would be the bigger of the two weekends. That wasn’t the case when I looked back at crowd totals from six years ago (the last time the Fourth fell on a Wednesday).
My guess is ultimately over the long term it will end up being a better two-week stretch this year for most businesses when you compare a long blockbuster Fourth of July weekend of recent years with the typically quieter one following it.
Rather than spend millions of more dollars, Ocean City should just make some minor tweaks to the current barriers in place for the Boardwalk access control project.
There’s nothing pretty about the current barriers in place at the street ends and at the Inlet. However, that doesn’t really bother me. It’s for safety. There doesn’t need to be vegetation or decorative bollards put in place so it fits in with the Boardwalk. I’m not sure it’s even possible to fit in with the boards.
The plan at this point is for the city to take a harder look at the second phase of the project, which came in at $4.2 million, which was more than three times the expected price tag.
The key here is public safety and preventing senseless tragedies along the Boardwalk. If it has to remain the way it is with large, white concrete barriers or can be improved slightly from an aesthetic standpoint without a lot of funds, then so be it. Spending anything over the original estimated price tag is simply not worth it if public safety is taken care of already.
On the primary election front, there was further evidence this week that late campaigning as well as last-minute advertising and marketing were critical in the Worcester County state’s attorney and sheriff’s races.
Absentee and provisional ballots have been counted and in both the sheriff and state’s attorney races they favored the losers in the election.
For the sheriff’s race, Mike McDermott secured 27 votes compared to Matt Crisafulli’s 19 in the absentee and provisional ballots. That was consistent with McDermott’s edge in early voting, 591-435, but Crisafulli won the position on election day with a strong showing, earning 317 more votes on primary day. The tally after early voting, election day and absentee/provisional was 2,293 to 2,140 with Crisafulli winning 44.9% of the total vote compared to McDermott’s 41.9%.
In the state’s attorney race, the contest was tighter with Kris Heiser (51.5% of the vote) edging out Interim State’s Attorney Bill McDermott, 2,619-2,468. Like the sheriff’s race, McDermott had the lead after early voting, 637-525, and carried the absentees/provisional ballots, 37-13. However, Heiser more than made up the difference on election day, securing 2,081 votes to 1,794 for McDermott.
Ocean City’s new parking system did nothing to improve the flow of traffic out of the Inlet parking lot after the fireworks on the Fourth of July. It would have been foolish to think ahead of time that it would in all actuality.
The Inlet parking lot can hold 1,267 vehicles. It reached full capacity by 10 a.m. on the Fourth of July. According to Public Works Director Hal Adkins, 3,112 transactions were recorded throughout the day. Simple math shows that on average each space was turned over two-and-a-half times.
Immediately after the fireworks, photos from Chris Parypa, who was stationed in an elevated perspective near the lifesaving museum to photograph the display, reveal about three quarters of the vehicles in the lot called it a night. That means there were about 900 vehicles trying to get out of the lot at one time starting at 10 p.m.
While the absence of the booths may have improved egress a little bit, the fact is Ocean City’s Baltimore Avenue is just not capable of handling that much traffic at one time. That’s why it took two hours for some vehicles to get from the Inlet to the Route 50 Bridge after the fireworks. It’s just a nightmare situation with no solution, but at least it only happens once a year.