Who Owns The OC Pier?
During recent discussions regarding the latest Pier Franchise Agreement, the question of true ownership of the pier came up. One scenario is that the Synepuxent Pier and Improvement Company owns it. If this is accurate, then there is no need for a franchise agreement. Case closed.
If it is determined that the State of Maryland owns the pier and underlying beach, then State officials should be the ones to negotiate the franchise agreement.
However, if the Town of Ocean City is the owner of the property, then the recent ordinance granting a 25-year extension, and amending the terms of the remaining 10 years should be repealed and renegotiated. At the very least, a title search of the property should be initiated.
The latest ordinance does not reflect the true value of the pier. The compensation to be paid to the Town over the next 10 years is too low. The Mayor & City Council (M&CC) have undervalued the franchise. Upon repeal of the new ordinance, there should be an independent audit and appraisal to determine the real value of the franchise, and a new agreement should be negotiated and adopted.
The M&CC have not done their due diligence. They have not exercised their fiduciary responsibility. They continue to make unwise financial decisions that impact all taxpayers and property owners of the Town of Ocean City.
Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.
Offshore Wind Position Wrong
The debate is over. The data is clear. The planet is warming and sea levels are rising. Greenhouse gasses are the culprit and human excessive use of fossil fuels are the cause. For every gallon of gasoline burned, almost 20 pounds of CO2 (the most abundant greenhouse gas) is released into our atmosphere. The last time there was this much CO2 in our atmosphere was over 2.6 million years ago and the average worldwide temperature was 3-4 degrees centigrade higher and sea levels were over 20 feet higher. Climate experts tell us that the future of our civilization demands us to reach “Carbon Neutrality” by 2050. How is this done? We must immediately pursue a “just transition” to 100% renewable energy. Reduce by 7.6% greenhouse gas emissions each year from now to 2030 is the target we must reach. The immediate development of offshore wind is one of the critical pathways toward a just transition to the clean renewable energy required. The purchase of “carbon offsets” is another pathway toward the carbon neutrality goal.
The honest pursuit of the goals of carbon neutrality is becoming the economic foundation for “Generation Z”. Our willingness to abandon the economic “status quo” is the indicator of hope for our future. Young people are eager for the life opportunities that a carbon neutrality goal promises. Why Ocean City leaders do not see the hope and promise offshore wind development will provide for visitors to the finest coastal resort on the east coast has been a hard question to answer.
Actually, younger people see the deny/delay strategy pursued by Ocean City town leaders as counterproductive toward being an attractive resort and thus to their economic growth goals. Actually, it appears the Ocean City Mayor and Council policies really only represent a very small segment of wealthy property owners and largely the interests of the fossil fuel industry that clean renewable energy development threatens.
Our future depends on the development of offshore wind.
Support Offshore Wind
The proposal to develop an offshore wind energy project in the Atlantic Ocean off Ocean City could have significantly more benefits to the Town of Ocean City than drawbacks.
At 17 miles offshore, the 30 wind turbines will barely be discernable from the beach, especially during warm summer months when moisture-saturated air substantially limits distance viewing. Of far greater concern for Ocean City are the long-term impacts of sea level rise.
With passions running high, it is important to take a broader and more balanced approach to this form of clean energy. The transition off fossil fuels is becoming increasingly urgent as sea level rise, driven by climate change, is already being felt by the resort, especially on its beleaguered bayside flank.
Already having risen nearly a foot through the 20th century in coastal Maryland, sea level is projected to rise 2.5-4 feet by the end of the century, due to increasing ocean temperatures. Our actions now can mitigate the severity of that rise.
The National Audubon Society’s recent report “Survival by Degrees” finds that two-thirds of America’s birds are threatened with extinction from climate change, but offers reason for hope for 76 percent of these birds if we can limit global temperature increases to 2.7F. Research shows that most coastal birds use waters closer to shore than 17 miles for foraging and migrating. There will be some bird impacts from offshore turbines at this distance but we must face the fact that a rapidly warming climate is a far greater threat, to birds and to people.
Moreover, the prospect of significant blue and white collar jobs and a boon to the recreational fishery makes this ethical move forward even more appealing. Ocean City should be lauded for its opposition to offshore drilling but mindful that the fossil fuel industry has consistently spread disinformation campaigns against offshore wind power.
Visitors to Ocean City enjoy a high-quality beach experience combined with an intensely developed resort that offers the excitement of lively bars, restaurants, arcades, racy Boardwalk T-shirt shops and high-rise hotels.
While mostly invisible wind turbines will cause little variance to this unique blend of beach and bustle, they could ultimately extend the majesty of this wonderful town to future generations.
(The writer is the executive director/Assateague COASTKEEPER for Assateague Coastal Trust.)