OC Approves $20K Funding Transfer For Litter Campaign

OCEAN CITY — Resort officials this week jumpstarted the town’s anti-litter campaign by approving the transfer of funds to support the program.

On Tuesday, the Mayor and Council had before them a request to approve the transfer of $20,000 from the town’s stormwater mitigation fund to support the “Litter Free OC” campaign. After a particularly trashy summer last year for a variety of reasons, much of the winter was spent embarking on an aggressive anti-litter campaign to roll out in advance of the upcoming season.

Last summer’s contributors were likely many, not the least of which were many businesses, at least early on, operating in a carryout-only model because of the pandemic. Overall, however, there seemed to a change in the general public’s attitude about tossing trash around the resort.

The change was decidedly noticeable and resort officials this winter began exploring ways to reverse the trend. The initiative began at the Coastal Resources Legislative Committee, or Green Team, level and the Litter Free OC campaign was borne out of those early discussions.

Internally, the campaign includes the public works department, the police department, tourism, recreation and parks, communications and just about every other town department. Externally, the campaign includes the private business sector, the Chamber of Commerce, the Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association and the Delmarva Condominium Association, for example.

The plan includes signage and banners throughout town, an ambitious social media campaign and public outreach. There is also an enforcement element to the program. While the essence of the anti-litter campaign will be public outreach and awareness, kind of a “kill them with kindness” approach, there will be stricter enforcement for the most egregious offenses. Last year, there was a total of seven civil citations issued for littering and the police department’s public safety aides (PSAs) will be instructed to step up enforcement.

On Tuesday, Environmental Engineer Gail Blazer presented to the Mayor and Council a request to transfer $20,000 from the town’s stormwater mitigation fund to support the Litter Free OC program. The request was approved by the council unanimously. The money to support the program and its banner and signage will come from a fund established years ago when state critical area laws changed.

When the critical area, or essentially the waterfront border along the bayside of Ocean City, was created several years ago, a payment-in-lieu system was set up for property owners and developers that could not always meet the stringent criteria. For example, if a developer could not meet the landscaping levels or the number of trees necessary in the critical area, for example, payments could be made into the mitigation account that could be used by the town for the same purpose in other areas.

Blazer on Tuesday told the Mayor and Council there is currently $75,000 in the stormwater mitigation fund and the transfer of $20,000 would help jumpstart the anti-litter campaign.

“We want to lead by example and keep Ocean City and clean and safe city,” she said. “The public works department does an incredible job, but keeping Ocean City clean is a 24-hour job.”

The $20,000 will be earmarked for advertising, outreach, the printing of materials and operational costs.

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.