Unlike five years ago, the science has confirmed there was an earthquake near Ocean City on Tuesday. I say “near” loosely since the 4.7 mb earthquake actually occurred in about 15,000 feet of water about 140 miles southeast of Ocean City.
Although it made headlines near and far, there really is little to say about this event. I was in Ocean City at the time with a couple hundred other people taking in youth basketball games. Despite what has been reported elsewhere, there were no effects felt in Ocean City from this quake. That was not the case five years ago.
In February of 2014, the ground did shake and buildings rumbled in the Ocean City area for as long as 10 seconds on at least two different occasions. With various reports from people who felt the effects of the earth moving, the Maryland Geological Society confirmed “earth motion activity” and requested seismologists analyze the data to determine if it in fact was an earthquake.
“Seismologists at Columbia University have analyzed the data from three area stations at Reisterstown, the Eastern Shore and Lewes and have advised that data from those sites is not consistent with an earthquake,” then-MGS Director Richard Ortt said. “Very small scale events were observed at the seismic stations, however the signatures and travel times between the stations are inconsistent and do not follow the known travel times of seismic or earthquake events.”
With this week’s earthquake, immediate concerns were expressed, and understandably so, about the possibility of a tsunami being created. Geological officials quickly quelled those concerns because the earthquake’s magnitude was too low. Historical data confirms tsunamis should only be expected after earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0 or higher. For example, the horrific tsunami that caused $2.9 billion in damage to Indonesia was caused by 9.2 mw earthquake.
The Berlin Mayor and Council were right to slow the roll on the YMCA feasibility study this week.
The Berlin Falls Park Advisory Committee is doing just what it was charged with doing at its inception – bring concepts to the town’s elected officials for consideration for the fledgling Berlin Falls Park. The committee wants the town to spend $20,000 to allow YMCA officials to study whether a facility is needed or wanted in the area. Representing his committee, Roger Fitzgerald told the council the recommendation was carefully considered before the committee issued its endorsement.
“I see this $20,000 as just the kickoff phase to show the Y that we’re serious about engaging them as a partner,” Fitzgerald said. “I know it’s a lot of money but there’s been a lot of money spent on the park already. We didn’t just lightly come up and say ‘toss $20,000 to the wind.’ It seemed like this was the entry to get into the Y universe.”
Despite the committee and staff supporting the initial study, council members expressed a number of general concerns and questions about a YMCA on the Berlin Falls Park grounds. Most of the council’s issues, however, did seem to revolve around the financial aspect. Councilman Thom Gulyas was outspoken with his concerns.
“It’s another 20 grand for a study just to see if people want it … In order to find out if there’s fundraising availability that’s going to be another 20, 30, 40 grand on top of that and then they want to lease it for a dollar a year,” Gulyas said. “My question to you is how do I look at a taxpayer and say this is a good idea when they’re asking and they’re telling me why did you lease this. If we do this for one then at what point do we start doing it for the others? How do we get away from the fact that we’re paying for a study for a nonprofit to come in and then we’ve got other nonprofits that we deal with, the list is endless. How do we say no to those folks if they want a study done? That’s where I have a problem. That’s where I’m confused about this. It’s going to be expensive.”
My hope is this conversation circles back once some of the council’s questions get answered.
It’s been more than a month since a 25-year-old man died in a single-vehicle accident near the intersection of Route 589 and Beauchamp Road.
While there’s a lot of unknowns surrounding this case, what we do know is on Dec. 17 a Ford pickup was driving north on Route 589 when the driver lost control and struck the right shoulder curb, colliding with a traffic signal pole. The passenger died from injuries sustained after being ejected from the truck. The 30-year-old driver of the truck has not been identified, but initial police reports after the incident revealed the driver showed obvious before noon, the assumption all along has been drugs.
In the weeks since the fatal accident, no official identifications have been made of the driver or the deceased. No charges have been filed. Since that’s unusual, the conspiracy theories have been running rampant.
When asked for an official update on the case this week, State’s Attorney Kris Heiser said, “With regard to the fatal accident on Route 589, we are still awaiting the results of blood kit analysis by the Maryland State Police lab in Pikesville. I expect we won’t receive the blood kit analysis for at least another 30 days or so.”