With the first issue of 2019, here are some predictions for the next 12 months. Like most years, I will be wrong on many and right on some. Nonetheless, it’s a fun exercise.
•A U.S. District Court judge will rule for Ocean City in the ongoing challenge of the 2017 emergency ordinance that banned women from going topless in the resort. In other words, the judge will agree with Ocean City’s belief a majority of the public thinks topless women is more offensive than topless men.
•Governments in Berlin and Ocean Pines will each launch searches for new leaders, as Berlin loses Administrative Director Laura Allen to a town in the Pacific time zone and Pines General Manager John Bailey moves on less than two years after accepting the job.
•Ocean City will ask the Court of Appeals to take another look at the recent Court of Special Appeals verdict that reversed a Worcester County Circuit Court judge’s ruling on the Rapoport property on the Boardwalk. Maryland’s high court will refuse to accept the appeal, ending the case.
•Despite the wet start, the year will turn out to be the exact opposite of 2018 on the weather front. Drought conditions will exist for much of the summer, resulting in a booming season in Ocean City by all accounts.
•The current petition effort to take Ocean City’s land buy on 67th Street to referendum will fall short of the required signatures, allowing the purchase to move forward.
•After its appeal of a tax differential ruling is unsuccessful, the Town of Ocean City will continue to seek talks with the County Commissioners on larger grants for the municipality. Although not acknowledging a grudge, the majority of the commissioners want nothing to do with it, approving nearly the same dollar amount as in previous years.
•The Town of Berlin will not pursue a study for a potential YMCA to be built at Berlin Falls Park.
•Historian Bunk Mann’s follow-up to his wildly successful Vanishing Ocean City book will be released this fall under the title, “Ghosts of the Surf.”
•Months after the county rezoned parcels along Route 589 commercial, a new convenience store will break ground directly across from the Ocean Downs Casino.
•The year will end without Worcester County filling its vacant director of economic development post because the commissioners don’t feel it’s a priority.
•More construction issues push the opening of the new Flag Cinemas operation in the White Marlin Mall back to mid-summer.
•The biggest takeaway from Berlin’s ongoing parking and mobility study is a recommendation for dozens of paid parking spots along Main Street and downtown side streets. The goal being to force employees of town businesses to park their vehicles away from work so customers have somewhere to park.
•The first-ever Jellyfish Festival in Ocean City will be able to grab at least one national act, despite concerns over it being held the same weekend as Firefly in Dover.
•Due to pending lawsuits, the Trump Administration will be unable to push forward with offshore seismic testing plans in 2019.
•In the state’s second round of report cards, two schools in Worcester will earn five-star ratings. All county schools ranked at four stars in 2018.
•The year will come and go with no rebuilding plans announced for the landmark property at the corner of Talbot Street and Baltimore Avenue in Ocean City. Instead, the property owner will use his vacant lot as a paid parking lot.
•Despite Ocean City officials’ angst, the State Highway Administration confirms there is no money to extend the existing median fence south as had been hoped.
•After much ado about Ocean Pines removing hundreds of geese from the community to be killed, 2019 will be quiet on that front, as the practice of bringing in border collies every now and again to chase them away continues to prove fruitful.
•In a scene similar to what took place at the Sands Motel in Fenwick last month, the year ends with a celebration over the beginning of the Alamo Motel’s demolition in West Ocean City. The property owner intends to build two large restaurants for franchises.
•Plans for a commercial development in Berlin will move forward after the town annexes 18 acres at the intersection of Routes 50 and 346.
•Toward the end of the year, Commissioner Joe Mitrecic will become president, replacing Commissioner Diana Purnell after her second year in the seat.
•The Worcester County Commissioners will vote to increase the property tax rate, pointing largely to concerns over ballooning retiree health costs and meeting public education demands.
•Ocean City Elementary will be named a National Blue Ribbon School for the second time.
•After being defeated the last couple years, the Maryland General Assembly will approve changes to craft beer regulations under Comptroller Peter Franchot’s Reform On Tap initiative.
•The second half of the year on the national front will be all about who will challenge President Trump in 2020. Beto O’Rourke will become the Democratic front runner to challenge Trump.
•The Baltimore Ravens will defeat the New Orleans Saints to win the franchise’s third Super Bowl.