What’s The Hurry?
In 2017 the County ordered a study through the Stadium Authority who referred Crossroads Consulting Services to prepare a Study on the viability of a sports complex in the County for a fee of $75,000. After staff’s review, they commented on August 30, 2017 “staff has reviewed the economic analysis and determined that while the report provides good baseline data, we believe that the projected economic impact is overly optimistic (emphasis added).”
In 2019 Ocean City went through the same process and had Cross Roads Consulting Services prepare another report on the same topic for a fee of $49,400. Then the Ocean City Council failed to release the report for 19 months raising my curiosity about its content. One interesting contradiction between the two reports done by the same entity was the County report had rightly placed us in the Mid-Atlantic region while the less expensive Ocean City report had wrongly placed us in the Southern, where participation rates for outdoor activities were higher. But this wasn’t a reason to conceal the report from the public for 19 months. Maybe Ocean City didn’t pay enough money to be put in the right region?
The top of page 31 may reveal a reason for the concealment. There was a graph of participation rates in outdoor sports from 2014 through 2018 that showed significant declines in outdoor participation: Soccer declined 10%, Baseball declined 27%, Softball declined 30%, Football touch declined 38%, Football flag declined 13% and Lacrosse declined 47%. Wow! The County better hurry up and invest $15 million before we lose the opportunity! With those declines no wonder the Ocean City report was slow to be released.
During Covid our politicians have been busy little beavers planning and plotting to spend our tax dollars on a bigger, better Sports Complex than the others. Aren’t we lucky?
All seven council members in Ocean City support the County spending money on a Sports Complex and want to build an indoor field at the Sports Complex. In the county the vote has been 4 to 3. Purnell, Nordstrom, Mitrecic and Church voting for. With Bud Church retiring and an election in November the four supporters are trying to ram it through now, fully realizing that the effort would likely fail after the election, as well it should.
The race to a public hearing and a bond is at a time when economists are calling for a 40% chance of a recession by next year and a very uncertain economic future facing us. With that backdrop our politicians are putting us in more debt.
In the Commissioners and Town Councils closed door preparations they overlooked Lou Pagliarini’s 50-acre property for $600,000 just North of Ocean Pines with road frontage and abutting route 113 and opted instead for the Harrison’s 95-acre property with no egress to route 50 and no access to Seahawk Road for a price of $7,150,000 more than twice the County’s Assessment of the 95 acres.
What they are not disclosing is the OC report cautions to expect many years of operating losses not to mention borrowing the $15 million for the land and build out at a higher interest rate.
I love athletics, I did football, wrestling and track in HS as well as class president. In College I was a division one wrestler. I placed second in the National Wilkes Tournament and was a Finalist in the Olympic Trails in ‘68. However, the children in this County don’t lack athletics, there are plenty of athletic options. The children lack parenting largely due to work loads and single parent families. Maybe we should invest the money in our families?
My strong advice would be to hold off on indebting the County till next year when we might have more clarity about where we are heading with the economy. To rush this through now is highly irresponsible.
I think of the poorer people in District One (Pocomoke area) who are essentially having their tax dollars taken and given largely to the richest family on the Eastern Shore under the hope that this new trinket, the Sports Complex will benefit business in the County. It is not up to the Taxpayers to pay tax dollars to “benefit businesses”.
In Ocean City we have done that at least four times: 1) the Airport, 2) the Golf Course, 3) the Convention Center and 4) the Performing Arts Center. All underutilized and loosing money each year from annual operations. Even if the State of Maryland paid for some of the development is this wise at this time? All bond debt from Ocean City’s four loosing projects is ongoing and will be rolled over to more expensive debt when it expires. Does the County want to be saddled with bond debt, higher interest rates and operating losses like Ocean City? With present economic uncertainty it would be better to wait till next year and make sure we can service the debt, pay the interest and the annual operating expenses.
I encourage the Public to attend the hearing on Tuesday April 19, at 6PM at Stephen Decatur High School.
Falls Church, Va.
Shameful Marketing Effort
As a more than 40 year very hard-working employee of Ocean City and resident of Ocean City and Berlin, I was appalled and embarrassed at OC Today’s headline tag on Facebook this week “Ocean City’s ad plan targets affluent crowd”. It seems the Town of Ocean City, City Council members, Worcester Tourism, OCHMRA, Convention Center, Worcester County Commissioners are not on the same page when it comes to bringing guests into our county and Ocean City.
As we await BVK, Tom Perlozzo and City Council to tease “affluent people” to come to Ocean City the same people are bringing bull riding, a C3 multi day concert event of still undisclosed entertainment, a gun show as well as still entertaining bike week, cruisers, Sunfest and Springfest just to name a few. At the same time this week scores of parents, business members and resident will fill Stephen Decatur High School’s auditorium the make an impassioned plea to bring a multi-use recreational facility to our county which will attract scores and scores of families. I guess all of the monies spent by the above-mentioned visitors and residents are good enough for now until the “affluent people” start coming.
Lest we forget the town’s desire to hire and put in place a “diversity position” What? I hope that round room you are running around in is padded. I don’t know what flavor Kool-Aid BVK and Perlozzo are serving up, but I for one am not interested. It’s shameful to even speak these words let alone try to put it into action.
When I first ran for Ocean City Council, I used the phrase, “I believe in Ocean City.” No matter what adversity one might face, I can rely on this fact, “I believe in Ocean City.”
My never-ending commitment to Ocean City remains steadfast. I want to address a recent family matter in which I was involved. In a small parking lot at a North Ocean City restaurant, I accidentally bumped into a parked vehicle. The owner and I exchanged vehicle and personal information, as required by law in Maryland. My teenage son and I then proceeded to dine in a restaurant, where I had a public verbal disagreement with him. There was an exchange of words between my son and me. Have you ever disagreed with your children, especially your teenagers? However, as a public official, this should have been discussed privately, and not in a public venue where I interrupted the dining environment of the patrons. My apologies to all diners who were at the restaurant to enjoy their meal and the people with whom they were dining.
Thereafter, my brief ordeal was referred to in an official police press release. To clear the air and set the record straight, I apologized publicly during the next council work session for what transpired. At that time, the Town’s City Solicitor advised City Council members that this was an unfortunate family matter and that this was outside any authority of City Charter law. That should have been the end of the story.
However, some people have used social media to turn a simple family matter into an overblown political situation of unfavorable labels, lies, negative conjectures, and fabrications to change the truth. To be open and honest, an official inquiry by the police was completed and unbiased. They did their jobs, and I commend them for doing so. I would expect nothing less.
To the people of Ocean City, whom I serve, my personal public disagreement with my son, which should have been done in our home and not at a diner, was unacceptable, and I offer my sincere apologies once again. I simply ask the citizens of Ocean City, whom I serve, do we believe everything on social media? Do we let those individuals who have unfounded accusations usurp the power of social media when the truth is not what they seek?
Let me be clear. There was no evidence of a crime being committed, or that some rule or regulation was broken. I ask that you not let social media manipulate and alter the truth. I write this letter to explain what truly happened. I believe I owe you that as your Councilman and as an elected official. I continue to serve with openness so that you, the citizens of Ocean City, can come to your own conclusions. I trust you. “I believe in Ocean City.” No matter what adversity one might face, I can rely on this fact, “I believe in Ocean City.” Despite the social media lies, my belief in you to see the truth has not wavered.
Thank you for reading this letter.