More than 20 years ago, Worcester County embarked on a visioning campaign for the future called “Worcester 2000.” The quasi-strategic planning effort was largely geared toward development and much of the debate centered on Route 50. In the end, most of the effort turned out to be a waste of time and money with the only significant result being new design guidelines from Herring Creek east to the Route 50 Bridge.
Over the course of the year-long effort, this paper covered dozens of workshops and hearings involving citizen input. A common phrase expressed by long-time residents reflected their desire for Route 50 to not become “another Ritchie Highway” referring to the commercial-dominated roadway around Glen Burnie.
It’s safe to say 20 years later that’s essentially what Route 50 from Berlin to Ocean City is becoming. The southside of Route 50 has undergone the most change in the last two decades with the Ocean Landings developments near Route 589 and the retail and hotel boom east of Herring Creek dominating the landscapes. Two new leases have recently been signed in the Ocean Landings II shopping center, home to IHOP, Fox’s Pizza Den and PetSmart, among others. Two new retail/restaurant spaces are being constructed closest to Route 50, while the neighboring Ocean Landings I, home to Wal-Mart and Home Depot, appears at full occupancy.
Further east it was learned this week a 7-Eleven is coming for the intersection of Route 50 and Samuel Bowel Boulevard (across from Glen Riddle). This will mark two 7-Eleven stores within five miles of each other if all plans advance, as the same branded convenience store is planned for the entrance to Berlin at Main Street and Route 50.
No matter where you fall on whether this type of development is good for the area and the economy, the bottom line is the drive from Berlin to Ocean City will continue to see more congestion in the coming months and years. With the new projects will inevitably come more traffic lights.
Over the last few years, I have taken some shots at The Baltimore Sun for what I perceive as negative editorial leanings on Ocean City as well as news coverage that paints the resort area in an unflattering and inaccurate light.
The paper’s editorial board read a recent jab I took in this space and penned “An end-of-summer love letter to Ocean City” in response. Below are some excerpts from the editorial.
“Recently, the publisher of The Dispatch and Maryland Coast Dispatch, sister newspapers that have long served Ocean City and other nearby resort communities, wrote a note to his readers suggesting The Baltimore Sun was not a fan. It takes a lot to wound the pride of your typical editorial board member (our skin thickness is generally measured by the yard, not the fraction of an inch), but his criticism that The Sun ‘’likes to blast Ocean City while promoting beach resorts in Delaware and New Jersey’ cut deep. So here we are pledging our fealty to the town …
“We understand where second generation Dispatch publisher Steven Green is coming from given our recently expressed preference for not building a third Chesapeake Bay Bridge (“The best place for a new Bay Bridge? Nowhere,” Aug. 28). In recent years, The Sun has more than once criticized the Ocean City’s elected leaders for not being sufficiently supportive of off-shore wind power given the impact of climate change on their community and we’ve knocked Gov. Larry Hogan and his faithful lapdog, Comptroller Peter Franchot, for insisting all public schools start after Labor Day to accommodate Ocean City’s labor needs. We still find that last one a classic case of a tail wagging the dog given the importance of public education in this state, not to mention the challenge of finding day care the week before Labor Day. Of course, we’ve also praised Ocean City’s efforts to improve pedestrian safety and even thought the mid-block fencing on Coastal Highway intended to reduce jaywalking was a fine idea even as many local residents and vacationers alike spoke out against such inconvenience.
“This kind of robust critique of public officials is, well, kind of what we do. And if Mayor Rick Meehan or members of the Ocean City Council think we’re too tough on them, they might want to run that by Baltimore’s last several mayors including Catherine Pugh who found herself on the wrong side of a “Healthy Holly” scandal resigning from office just months after the questionable book deal was first reported by The Sun.
“So we thought this might be a good moment to send our own little note to Ocean City and remind everyone down on the boardwalk that we’re thinking of them and would really prefer to spend more time there but, you know, we’ve got these jobs and chores and kids and stuff. We thought of you this week as Hurricane Dorian moved north and were relieved to hear that it was destined to only give a glancing blow. And so we will leave you with the words of John Dyer, the nonagenarian Baltimore native whom Mayor Meehan recently awarded a key to the city (along with his wife Kitty) for being such loyal devotees. “It’s just a great place to be,” the father of six and grandfather of 15 told a Dispatch reporter.
“We agree completely. Of course, it would also be nice if the mayor and council would get on board that off-shore wind project and not stress out about turbines that can barely be seen on the horizon but hey, who’s perfect?”