Voluntary Program Seeks To Light Up Resort’s Downtown Dark Spots

OCEAN CITY – A voluntary program for installing new light fixtures is expected to prevent crime and improve public safety in downtown Ocean City.

On Monday, Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) President Kevin Gibbs and Reserve Officer Mark Pacini presented the Ocean City Police Commission with an overview of the Light Up Downtown Program.

“The real reason we’re doing this is to really light up these dark areas …,” Gibbs said.

The OCDC, in partnership with the resort and its police department, recently launched a voluntary lighting program that reimburses property owners and business owners up to 50% of the cost of purchasing and installing light fixtures, up to $500.

“That means if you spend $500, we’re going to provide you $250,” Gibbs said.

Officials said the intent of the program is to improve lighting in alleys, streets and side streets, which, in turn, would improve crime prevention and public safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Most recently, the OCDC expanded the program to include target areas from the Inlet to 17th Street and to 15th Street along the Boardwalk.

Gibbs told commission members this week Pacini had worked alongside the OCDC to provide a map of hotspots, or areas with little to no lighting. He said the first step of the program would be to contact those property owners, although any property owner in the designated target area could apply for the reimbursement program.

“We’ve streamlined the process to really get this going,” he said.

Light fixtures installed through the Light Up Downtown Program must be LED for energy efficiency, according to Gibbs. Applicants will also be responsible for getting estimates from a licensed electrician.

“We try to keep it as flexible as possible …,” he said. “We want you to light it up, but we don’t want to be so specific that we are telling you exactly what to use and who to use.”

Gibbs noted the online application has been posted on the town’s website with a list of qualifications and procedures. He added that larger reimbursements for larger installations would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Councilman Lloyd Martin questioned if the OCDC had considered adding Ring doorbells cameras, or any other home security system, to its program.

“It really helps a lot of times to solve crimes in the neighborhoods,” he said.

Gibbs said OCDC staff had not discussed adding cameras to its reimbursement program, but added it could be a possibility once the lighting program was fully implemented.

“I don’t see why we can’t promote smart doorbells, smart technology, to try and help,” he replied. “I think that can definitely work.”

Mayor Rick Meehan said he liked the idea of adding cameras to the reimbursement program. He also encouraged the OCDC to recognize program participants.

“My hope is maybe we can even give recognition to those that are part of the program …,” he said. “I think that’s a good incentive for other property owners.”

The promotion of Light Up Downtown comes years after the corporation launched a pilot program to improve lighting in alleyways throughout the resort.

In 2018, the OCDC partnered with the town and the police department to create a voluntary reimbursement program for installing LED lights in downtown alleyways.

Meehan noted this week the Light Up Downtown initiative was a direct result of the Downtown Alley Lighting Program.

“I think people are going to be on this and they will like it a lot better,” Gibbs added.

For more information, or to apply online, visit oceancitymd.gov/oc/light-up-downtown-program/.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.