Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – January 3, 2020

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – January 3, 2020

For the past 15 years, I have devoted space in the first issue of the new year to making predictions on the news over the next 12 months. Here are some of my thoughts on what will make headlines for the year ahead.

  • Plans for a Lidl grocery store west of McDonalds on Route 50 will advance with ground broken on the new store.
  • The Maryland General Assembly will approve significant changes to the special event enforcement zone in an effort to curtail behavior during the unofficial H2Oi weekend. Worries about a conflict with Sunfest will play out as the weekend is marred by the typical antics of the unwelcome attendees. Tough talk from resort officials will predictably follow the unruly weekend.
  • As warned in 2019, officials in Berlin will institute another property tax increase. The 9% hike will be approved to ensure the town’s reserve fund has enough money in it for a year’s worth of expenses in the case of an emergency.
  • Plans for a major corporate waterfront hotel in West Ocean City will draw the ire of nearby residents.
  • Berlin Mayor Gee Williams will file for re-election and face opposition from Councilman Zackery Tyndall.
  • Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan will announce plans to seek one final term as mayor. Consequently, likely challengers, including Councilman Matt James, will not oppose him.
  • Plans for two convenience stores within a mile of each other at the northern entrances to Berlin will move forward. Though neither the 7-Eleven at Route 50 and Main Street nor the Sheetz at the intersection of Routes 50 and 346 will open in 2020, the year will end with significant progress on each.
  • By the end of 2020, a plan – led by Gov. Larry Hogan — will be in place to phase out all human toll collectors in favor of E-ZPass.
  • The proposed Fenwick Island State Park deal with wind farm developer Orsted will not advance after state officials bow to citizen concerns.
  • After holding a public hearing to review concerns on the change in the height of the proposed wind turbines, the Maryland Public Service Commission allows the offshore wind farms to proceed forward as planned.
  • The WreckTangle, an obstacle course set up in downtown Ocean City last summer for the first time, will return for a second year in Ocean City.
  • A federal judge will side with the Town of Ocean City on the toplessness issue, ruling the town’s emergency ordinance in 2017 did not violate the female plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.
  • On a limited scale, with all sorts of assurances some percentage of revenue will go to education, the Maryland legislature will approve sports betting after two unsuccessful attempts in the past.
  • Berlin’s Heron Park will finally reopen in October to the public after demolition work cleanup.
  • Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot will announce his intention to run for governor in 2022 alongside Salisbury Mayor Jake Day, his pick for lieutenant governor.
  • The year will come and go with no movement on a proposed north-end Worcester County sports complex aimed at branding Ocean City as a youth sports destination.
  • With a goal to protect and preserve the neighborhoods, Berlin will pass an ordinance banning short-term rentals unless they are located in the commercial district and at owner-occupied properties.
  • Existing year-round residents of the White Horse Park community will be permitted by a judge to remain in their homes for a period of two years.
  • Acting on a tip from the public, an investigation into the Assateague Pointe community off Route 611 will find people are illegally living there year-round in a similar fashion as to what was happening at White Horse Park.
  • A beach concert festival will take place on the beach in Ocean City in June, but it will not be named the Jellyfish Festival due to an ongoing dispute between last year’s organizers.
  • The new Showell Elementary School will open in September with much fanfare after the existing school is demolished throughout the summer.
  • Ocean City’s efforts to answer its own 911 calls will gain no traction in 2020.
  • Gov. Larry Hogan and the state legislature will spend most of the next session battling over education funding needed for Kirwan Commission’s recommendations. After Hogan vetoes a funding bill, the Democratically-controlled legislature is able to override his attempt to block it.
  • With funding in place from the recent pier deal, much of the fall in Ocean City will be spent replacing the wooden Boardwalk.
  • As was the case the first year, attendance for the National Folk Festival will be hurt by inclement weather. The festival will move on to Asheville, N.C. after completing its three-year run in Salisbury.
  • Only once in 15 years have I gotten both the Super Bowl teams and winner correct. Therefore, I don’t want to jinx my beloved Ravens. Assuming I will be wrong again, I pick the Kansas City Chiefs to defeat the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.