OCEAN CITY – Efforts to produce and install new Boardwalk signage to help the police department enforce town ordinances will move forward ahead of the summer season.
On Monday, members of the Ocean City Police Commission discussed plans for installing signage at the Boardwalk street ends and north-south poles. Mayor Rick Meehan said the proposed signs – which detail prohibited activities such as smoking and drinking – would encourage compliance of all town laws.
“They need to be on the north-south poles and big enough for people to see …,” he told command staff this week. “The first thing people ever tell you is ‘nobody told me’ and ‘I didn’t see the sign.’”
For months, resort officials and law enforcement personnel have held internal meetings to discuss strategies for the coming season with a goal of preventing a repeat of serious crimes that occurred on the Boardwalk and around town last summer.
In March, for example, the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) met with the Maryland State Police to plan for this year’s pop-up car rally. And in June, the town will receive assistance from the state police and Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is one of our top priorities in terms of operation strategy moving forward …,” Police Chief Ross Buzzuro said.
As part of ongoing strategic planning sessions, Councilman Peter Buas last month asked the city manager to invite a representative from the public works department to attend a Police Commission meeting to discuss signage and trash issues along the Boardwalk. He also urged departments to coordinate efforts that tackle the resort’s issues.
“I know we talked about making sure all the departments were working together and talking …,” he said.
This week, Public Works Deputy Director Woody Vickers said crews had to contend with several issues last summer, from litter to staffing shortages.
“Last year was a unique season to say the least,” he said.
Vickers, however, said his department was working to address those problems ahead of the summer season.
The public works department is also working with OCPD to install new signage that highlights the town’s ordinances.
“We are working closely with many of the departments throughout town, including public works,” Buzzuro said. “We’re looking at all different angles because we all know that’s a high priority for us.”
Capt. Elton Harmon told commission members this week the new signs would be placed at the street ends and along the Boardwalk.
“This is a more direct sign telling you can’t do it …,” he said.
Meehan, however, expressed concern that the signs were verbose.
“Something like this might be okay for a street end,” he said, “but very few people are going to take the time to read this encyclopedia.”
Harmon noted the signs included universal prohibition symbols. Officials suggested those symbols be displayed along the Boardwalk.
“The signs on the poles running north-south need to be bigger, clearer …,” Meehan said. “You have to have bullet points.”
Harmon added that it was important to have the signage installed on the Boardwalk sooner rather than later.
“I was down there this weekend,” he said. “All these municipal infractions, it’s happening now up and down.”
While officials agreed to coordinate with the Maryland State Highway Administration and Ocean City Public Works to produce and install the Boardwalk signage, Meehan noted it would be OCPD’s responsibility to enforce the laws.
“We need them up there because you are going to be enforcing the laws,” he said. “We said this year we’re going to enforce all the municipal ordinances, and they need to see those signs.”