Horse, Carriage Franchise Brings No Bidders

OCEAN CITY — A busy Mayor and Council work session this week included the approval of funding for the annual film festival, a revision of the make-up of the town’s various subcommittees and no takers on a horse-drawn carriage ride franchise.

Subcommittees Decided

The Ocean City Council remained largely intact after the municipal election earlier this month with the only new addition being new councilman Mark Paddack.

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan is charged with submitting a list of council representatives to the various subcommittees and boards and did so on Tuesday with some alterations, due largely to the departure of former Councilman Wayne Hartman and the arrival of Paddack. With little debate or fanfare, the council unanimously approved the changes.

As a result, the police commission will now include Meehan, Council President Lloyd Martin, Council Secretary Mary Knight and Councilman Matt James. Councilman Dennis Dare, who had served as chair of the commission the last two years, is no longer on the appointed body.

The tourism commission remained unchanged and will include Meehan, Knight, James and Councilman John Gehrig. The transportation committee will include Meehan, Paddack, Dare and Councilman Tony DeLuca. DeLuca will also remain chair of both the Coastal Resources Legislative Committee, or Green Team, and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

The recreation and parks committee will include Martin, Gehrig and Paddack. Paddack replaces Hartman, who served as chair of the committee. Martin remains the council’s liaison to the Property Review and Enforcement Strategies for Safe Housing, or PRESS, committee and will be joined by Paddack. Many of the lesser subcommittee appointments remained largely unchanged including the noise board, the pension committee, the beach mediation board, the Tri-County Council and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program liaison, for example.

Film Festival Funds OK’d

The Mayor and Council on Tuesday also approved a request from the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) to provide matching funding for the Ocean City Art League’s 3rd Annual Ocean City Film Festival slated for March.

Earlier this month, TAB officials voted unanimously to recommend funding for the Ocean City Film Festival set for March 8-10 in the amount of $4,500 and the Mayor and Council approved the request routinely on Tuesday with little discussion.

The Art League had requested $5,250 this year for the event now heading toward its third year, but TAB officials reduced the request to $4,500. Last year, the TAB allocation for the event was $4,850. The TAB budget is supported by a portion of the room tax dedicated to marketing and various special events.

The Ocean City Film Festival has grown exponentially during the first three years of its existence. The event features as many as 100 films screened at different venues around the resort over the three-day period and attracts filmmakers and film enthusiasts from all over the country and beyond.

No Interest In Horse Franchise

Another item on Tuesday’s work session agenda was a scheduled bid opening for the town’s horse-drawn carriage franchise for the next three years, but it turned out to be a non-issue as there were no bidders.

Three years ago, the Mayor and Council approved horse-drawn carriage rides through the downtown area during the summer months and awarded the franchise to a popular vendor who supplies carriage rides at the Inlet and during special events and weddings, for example.

That initial three-year contract expired this week and the franchise opportunity was put out to bid this fall. The bids were scheduled to be opened this week during Tuesday’s work session, but City Clerk Diana Chavis told the Mayor and Council no new bidders had come forward and the current vendor did not seem interested. Chavis said an effort would be made to reach out to the current vendor to see if he is interested in renewing the contract for another three-year period.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.