OCEAN CITY – A request to use six public parking spaces near the Cowboy Coast Country Saloon received a “neutral” recommendation from a resort commission this week, but not before considerable debate on the impacts it would have on the surrounding area.
On Monday, the Ocean City Police Commission heard a request from Cowboy Coast owner Mark Bogosh to use six non-metered parking spaces on 18th Street during certain concert events.
Specifically, the request calls for use of the six parking spots between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1 a.m. on days in which the venue would host national and regional acts.
“Every year I try to do more and more concerts,” Bogosh said. “Our parking is always an issue because all of the national acts we try to bring in have tour buses.”
Bogosh told the commission if his request was granted, it would reserve the six public parking spaces for tour bus parking and free up space in his own parking lot to the south of the building.
However, Council President Lloyd Martin, chair of the commission, argued the request, if approved by the Mayor and Council, could impact parking in an already troublesome area of town.
“I know there are some concerns from our staff,” he said. “It’s a very busy area down there.”
While most concert dates are scheduled for Thursday evenings, Martin said he was concerned about reserving the six spaces during the day. He suggested Bogosh could reach out to the neighboring Catholic church for additional parking.
“I know parking is at a premium down there …,” he said. “We are trying to figure out why you couldn’t just utilize maybe some spaces at the Catholic church on Thursday nights or afternoons, having the bus drop off and park over there. That way you wouldn’t utilize public parking.”
Mayor Rick Meehan noted that blocking off the parking spots would require staff to post a notice 48 hours prior to the requested start time. Police Chief Ross Buzzuro added the reserved parking spots would then be designated as a tow-away zone.
“The last thing we want to do is deter your business from making money,” Martin said. “But at the same time, we need to look out for everyone else … It makes it tough.”
Council Secretary Mary Knight questioned why the bus would need to stay at the concert venue after unloading equipment.
“I’m sure the Catholic church would be amenable to leasing spaces,” she said. “Why do you need to stay there the rest of the time?”
Bogosh said many of the national acts use their tour buses as hotels and dressing rooms. He said the six parking spots are located next to the stage doors, allowing the performers access to their bus before and after shows.
“It would obviously benefit me bringing in bigger acts and I think the impact would be minimal,” he said. “Those six spots are generally used by my customers … During the week, those spots are rarely used.”
Councilman Matt James said he had no problem with Bogosh’s request. He then made a motion to forward a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and Council, which died for lack of a second.
“I want to work something out to make sure you can make this happen,” Martin said. “But I don’t see this as the right thing to use those six spots.”
“It sets a precedent,” she said.
Bogosh said he was willing to work with officials to address their concerns and asked them to reconsider the request.
Meehan said he was concerned about reserving the parking spaces for national acts scheduled to perform at the venue on Saturdays. He did, however, offer to support a recommendation if it allowed nearby residents and business owners to share any concerns with the Mayor and Council.
“It will be an agenda item and if there are other people who have a problem with it they can comment …,” he said. “It’s something we need to take into consideration, and that’s not going to happen here.”
After further discussion, the commission voted unanimously to forward a “neutral recommendation for further discussion” with the full Mayor and Council.
“If there’s pictures or anything you can bring to the Mayor and Council to help state your case, I would do that,” Meehan said.