Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk –December 25, 2020

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk –December 25, 2020

It’s that time of year to review the predictions I made in this space one year ago for 2020. As usual, some I nailed while others missed the mark entirely. Next week’s column will look ahead to 2021.

ON THE MARK

•The Maryland General Assembly did approve tougher enhancements to the special event zone for Ocean City. It’s a matter of perspective, but I would opine the stricter measures were a success with the pop-up vehicle gathering at the end of September.

•Sunfest was bumped back into the calendar year because of a date conflict with the pop-up vehicle rally. The annual fall event was ultimately canceled due to the pandemic, however.

•Gee Williams was challenged in a re-election bid for Berlin mayor by Zack Tyndall as I predicted. However, there were also three other challengers in the race, which was won handily by Tyndall.

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•Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan did announce plans to seek re-election, but he did not proclaim it would be his final term as I thought he might.

•Ocean City Councilman Matt James did, in fact, not challenge Meehan for the mayor’s seat after consideration.

•Gov. Larry Hogan advanced plans in Maryland to phase out human collectors in favor of an expanded E-ZPass system.

•The proposed Fenwick Island State Park deal with wind farm developer Ørstead did not materialize as expected.

•Despite a public hearing behind held over the changes in height of the wind turbines associated with the offshore wind farm, the Maryland Public Service Commission in the end allowed the project to advance. I was right on that front, but I didn’t presume the PSC would order the wind farm developers to enhance communication efforts with the Town of Ocean City.

•A federal judge did side with the Town of Ocean City on topless issue, ruling the resort was within its constitutional right to not allow females on the beach without a bathing suit top.

•I was right Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot did make his 2022 gubernatorial bid official. I was premature and likely wrong about him announcing Salisbury Mayor Jake Day as his running mate.

•It’s accurate to say my prediction was right the year would end with no traction on a north-end sports complex aimed at branding Ocean City as a youth sports destination. There has been a lot of talk about it, but nothing beyond political candidates’ chatter.

•Plans for two 7-Eleven stores within a few miles of each other on Route 50 appear to be on track. The one near the Ocean Landings Shopping Center is much father along, expecting to open in the first half of next year.

•For only the second time in 16 years, I correctly predicted the Super Bowl winner and the competing team. The Chiefs did beat the 49ers last February.

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WHAT WAS I THINKING?

•Plans for a new Lidl grocery store west of the McDonalds on Route 50 never came to fruition.

•Berlin’s elected officials did not authorize a property tax increase for the second straight year. The pandemic’s severe economic consequences were cited as the reason to abandon a planned three-cent tax rate increase.

•A proposal to build a major waterfront hotel in West Ocean City never did rankle surrounding property owners as I surmised. In fact, there was never talk about such an effort in 2020.

•The WreckTangle obstacle course did not return in the summer of 2020. It was not a COVID thing.

•It was not the Maryland legislature who approved sports betting. Maryland’s voters authorized sports betting to advance and legislators will hash out next year how that looks in the state.

•I was way off with my timeline on when Berlin would reopen Heron Park. I thought it would be October, but it was February when the public had access to the walking trail.

•Though it was discussed before the pandemic hit, Berlin did not pass an ordinance banning short-term rentals in some areas of town.

•Due to ongoing legal challenges, year-round residents in White Horse Park were permitted to stay in the park, but a judge did not rule to that effect.

•A beach concert festival did not occur in June on the beach, but the cause was the pandemic not necessarily the internal struggles among organizers.

•Though it did open in September, there was little fanfare about Showell Elementary School’s opening because of the virus. In fact, there was a media tour of the new school, but some high-ranking school system officials didn’t even attend.

•The existing wooden Boardwalk was not removed and replaced with new planks as planned during the fall months.

•It was not inclement weather that hurt the National Folk Festival in Salisbury in September. The event was postponed in April due to the health crisis with Salisbury able to host the event next year instead of it moving on.

•There has not been any hint that a Sheetz convenience store is coming to the area. It was just a guess since convenience store operators like Royal Farms, 7-Eleven and Wawa seem to be fond of the region.

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.