Ocean City Earns Sustainable Honor

OCEAN CITY — Ocean City was one of 17 municipalities around the state to earn Sustainable Maryland honors at the Maryland Municipal League (MML) fall convention this week.

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland on Tuesday announced the town of Ocean City was one of 17 Maryland municipalities to earn the coveted Sustainable Maryland Certified Award. The announcement came during the MML’s fall convention in Cambridge. For Ocean City, it was the second time earning the Sustainable Maryland designation.

Sustainable Maryland is an initiative designed to support the state’s 157 municipalities as they look for cost-effective and strategic ways to protect their natural assets and revitalize their communities. Using best practices in areas such as water resources, energy, planning, health, food and economy, municipalities including Ocean City worked to earn points toward sustainability.

The benchmark for attaining the distinction was 150 points, but the town of Ocean City, through the dedication of Environmental Engineer Gail Blazer and the Coastal Resources Legislative Committee, or “Green Team,” had blown past the mark months ahead of last week’s announcement with around 380 points. Mayor Rick Meehan praised the efforts to attain the Sustainable Maryland community distinction.

“Our Green Team has worked tirelessly to find ways to make Ocean City a more sustainable community,” he said. “Their passion, teamwork and commitment to making our community green is not only critical for our environment today, but for the future of our coastal resort. I am extremely proud of our efforts and thrilled to see Ocean City receive our Sustainable Maryland certification once again.”

In recent years, the Green Team, the municipal government, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program and various other organizations including the Surfrider Foundation Ocean City chapter and the Ocean City Surf Club among others have adopted numerous initiatives to earn points toward the Sustainable Maryland certification including the Adopt Your Beach and Adopt Your Street programs.

In addition, other initiatives have been highly successful including the pilot cigarette “butt hut” program in and around the Boardwalk to reduce secondhand smoke exposure and cigarette butt litter. Another wildly successful program has been the “Strawless Summer” initiative focused on reducing potentially harmful plastic straw consumption, which has been embraced by over 70 restaurants and other facilities in the resort.

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.