Mayor Suggests Boardwalk Restrooms Need Earlier Attention With Busy Spring Weekends

Mayor Suggests Boardwalk Restrooms Need Earlier Attention With Busy Spring Weekends
The Caroline Street comfort station is pictured last summer. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY — The cleanliness of the public restrooms on the Boardwalk was a topic of discussion during a budget work session last week.

Public works was the last department to present its annual budget highlights to the Mayor and Council, and Mayor Rick Meehan took the opportunity to address his concerns about the occasional condition of the public restrooms on the Boardwalk. Meehan said the town has seen larger than normal weekend crowds this spring.

“We’ve seen it this year and we see it every year with the crowds growing earlier in the season,” he said. “We’ve seen it more so than ever this year with people wanting to get outside and get up on the Boardwalk.”

Meehan questioned if it could be time to bring in the part-time workers that specifically maintain the restrooms on the Boardwalk.

“One of the things we do provide up there for the people on the Boardwalk are those restrooms,” he said. “When do we usually bring our part-time people in to run the restrooms?”

Public Works Director Hal Adkins said those workers typically start later in the spring, and while the bathrooms are being monitored, there are not currently specific employees assigned to them.

“Normally, it’s in the month of May,” he said. “May 3 I believe this year. In April, we do not have the staff that are assigned to the restrooms like we do in the summer.”

Adkins said weekends in April have been busier than normal for a variety of reasons.

“Sometimes we end up with a perfect storm,” he said. “Great weather, cabin fever, everybody shows up. We have people working those days, Saturdays and Sundays, but it’s on a rotation basis, meaning they might stop by that bathroom once every hour or two hours. Then, they do the next one and the next one and come back.”

Meehan said the possibility of bringing in employees to specifically monitor the Boardwalk restrooms should be explored.

“Do we need to bring them in before May 3?” he said. “When I look at the restrooms and the volume of people up there, that’s one thing you take away. That’s one thing you remember. If that’s something that’s feasible, we only have a couple of weeks.”

Adkins said he would make it happen if the council favored the mayor’s approach. He said bringing in part-time employees to maintain the bathrooms wouldn’t be a strain on his budget.

“If that is a concern and a direction of the council, it can be done,” he said. “When you look at the money needed to do that, it’s a very, very trivial amount when you look at the hourly wage of the person that does that. For an eight-hour shift on a Saturday and Sunday in April, it’s not a big number.”

Meehan urged Adkins and his staff to follow up on the issue.

“I’d like to look at that,” he said. “That’s a memory you walk away with. We’re trying to keep the Boardwalk clean and we’re doing all of these things. The Boardwalk has been very clean. You guys have been doing a great job in making sure the trashcans are empty.”

While he praised the overall condition of the Boardwalk, Meehan said the restrooms really needed some extra attention, especially on the weekends.

“I was up there a lot in the last couple of weekends and it looked great, but the restrooms are the one area where we really need to step it up a little bit,” he said. “Let’s do that the next couple of weekends, and make sure it’s part of next year’s budget. April is now the May of 15 years ago. I think it’s really important those restrooms are kept in order. We can do better there.”

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.