Poor Customer Service
My family and I are spending a week in Ocean City, introducing our 6-month-old grandson to the joys of the beach. Our stay is in a condo at Ocean Place on the north end of the island with easy access to the beach. Such a plus with a baby.
As I drive the Coastal Highway and see the enormous number of vacation properties, I am filled with gratitude toward two classes of workers — those involved in water treatment and quality and the army of housekeepers who toil invisibly to make renters’ stays enjoyable.
The importance of the latter was driven home when we arrived on site on Saturday. We had no sheets on any of the beds, no towels, and it was obvious the unit had barely been cleaned. We tried to solve the issue through Vacasa, the property management company.
After two days of being promised sheets and towels, we bought our own. My daughter purchased cleaning supplies and scrubbed and vacuumed. She used 14 wet Swiffer clothes to clean the grime off the laminate flooring.
We reported all of this to the local Vacasa office and asked for reimbursement for the sheets. Hearing nothing, we drove to the office where we were told that our problems were system-wide for them. The corporate office had instructed them to refund everyone’s cleaning fee, $142 in
our case. Can you say, “Breach of Contract”?
Housekeeping is essential to people’s impression of a rental property, and, in the case of hotels, often a factor in a guest’s willingness to stay at all. I learned this when I worked as a hotel chambermaid while in college. I pray these critical workers are fairly compensated for the work they do.
A recent letter from Tony Christ bashing the Ocean City Town Council is one that needs to be called out for its absurdity.
In all fairness, I must say that for what may be the first time ever, I agree that a small portion of his rant has some validity. Mr. Christ uses the term “Good Old Boys” when citing examples of his unhappiness with government. I do agree with him that the Hal Harrison’s and Buddy Jenkins’ of the area possess way too much power here in Town. Businesses should be taking direction from the government, not the other way around. It appears 2022 will bring us a huge shortage of our beloved Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab this year, yet ask any professional crabber if we should have new restrictions on crabbing and you can bet it will be met with resistance. I also recall that it was mentioned by the Mayor and Town Council that we would seek the most qualified candidates from far and wide for the two very important positions of Director of Tourism and Business Development and for City Manager. That net was not cast any further than Worcester County, as Tom Perlozzo and Terry McGean were selected for these positions. While both appear to be doing a fine job, it can also be argued that this is a clear case of the “Good Old Boys” network in full force. But, my agreement with Mr. Christ ends there.
Mr. Christ chastises the Council for having conflicts of interest. He takes aim at Councilmember Gehrig for running D3 because some businesses in town choose to purchase his services. How silly. He then chastises Councilmembers James and Buas for their desire to fill our town with tourists. How frightening that he would view this as a problem. Even worse, he pounced on Councilmember Paddock for what he perceives as the Councilmember’s bias towards unions. This one really hits hard because I remember my disappointment with Councilmember Paddock when he took a neutral position on the organizing efforts of the other First Responders in Town. I have not heard Councilmember Paddock once talk about working to bring unionization rights to the town’s hard working Public Works Department, Parks Department, or even our everyday heroes at the OCBP.
Mr. Christ’s demands of recusal by these members are without merit and downright scary. Does anybody think Mayor Meehan should not serve as our Mayor because he is involved in local real estate? Should Members James and Buas turn a blind eye to all things tourism related because they have a bank of knowledge in the industry? Of course not. These guys are perfectly suited for the roles they have been elected to because they actually possess the wisdom that is gained from a lifelong experience in this difficult and ever-changing field.
Mr. Christ says that there is a lack of interest in people running for Office on Ocean City. Could it be because the residents feel that those who are in Office are doing a fine job? The ironic part of his argument is that Mr. Christ was loud and proud to have supported two candidates for office in the Town’s most recent election. Despite assurances that his two guys would be victorious, the voters felt differently. His guys finished last and second to last. I wonder if his endorsement had a role in their Election Day landslide loss. I also wonder if the politicians running for office in the county (Van Vonno, Gulyas, Fiori, Addis, Abbott and Helvey) whom Mr. Christ cited favorably will announce a disclaimer of his support. The perceived association may end up in a slaughter at the polls just as Eastman and Hagan experienced.
Lastly, the most condescending and outlandish part of Mr. Christ’s letter was his absolute disdain for the voters of Ocean City, especially those that may be elderly or retired. He categorizes them as disengaged and “not having a dog in the fight” because they receive monthly checks. Mr. Christ sees the retired community very differently than I do. While he treats them as a bunch of lazy wealthy beings without a care in the world, I view them as a very engaged bunch, who are concerned about the cost of food, fuel, medicine and housing. To me they are a wise bunch that should be listened to and respected for their lifelong experiences and not just cast aside as being has-beens in society. With the attitude displayed by him, it is little wonder why the voters chose not to back his candidates of choice.
Traffic, Public Safety Concerns Being Ignored
No one really doubted the outcome when the Worcester County Commissioners scheduled Tuesday’s public hearings (June 21, 2022) to facilitate making the “conceptual” expansions of two major developments, the Triple Crown Estates and Frontier Town, a reality.
It’s all about the smell of money.
Only a few days earlier, county officials chauffeured representatives from Wall Street’s bond rating agencies around the county to showcase real estate developments in process that will add to the revenue base. Following the tour, traffic and safety concerns took a back seat as the County Commissioners approved the expansion of Triple Crown Estates. Then, moments later, the commissioners approved changing the rules so Frontier Town can pack in an additional 112 cabins to house up to 672 more campers. Again, safety at a dangerous intersection was given little consideration.
During the five minutes allocated for public comment on each proposal, residents that will be forced to cope with additional traffic begged for relief. They simply wanted action now to deal with the seasonally overburdened Route 589 and Stephen Decatur Highway corridors. Simply asked the County Commissioners to do something to address the already dangerous traffic conditions before approving expansions that will increase the threat to public safety. It was even suggested the developers help pay for a traffic light or other measures that could save lives. Cost sharing — getting the developers to ante-up — wasn’t even discussed.
Nope. Easing the conditions so you can turn onto Route 589 from Gum Point Road is a State Department of Transportation responsibility, the Commissioners noted, one musing that perhaps the speed limit could be reduced. Furthermore, Triple Crown’s developer had a two-year old traffic study, presumably showing the congestion on Route 589 was okay.
Down at Frontier Town, Attorney Hugh Cropper’s proposal for eliminating most campsite design rules, including those applicable to where campers park their vehicles, easily won approval. The campground now can add 112 cabins in creative clusters with more green space. The cabins will be no less than 10 feet apart. Mr. Cropper said eliminating the road access, on-site parking and campsite design requirements would create a more natural experience for the “rednecks” visiting the campground, who he said “presumably” would travel by golf cart or hike for the duration of their visit. Hugh rarely loses when he asks the Commissioners to help his clients.
The specter of golf carts transporting up to 672 additional campers to undefined remote parking sites, or to Buck’s to replenish beer and jerky supplies, was a concern of one speaker from the South Point Association. She claimed the intersection of Assateague Rd. and Stephen Decatur Highway already is dangerous. Adding golf carts and more campers to the mix would only make a dangerous situation worse.
Again, the highways are a State Highway responsibility. Mr. Cropper noted he grew up on South Point and lives near Buck’s, claiming to never have personally observed a golf cart on the highway or at Buck’s. Slam dunk, Mr. Cropper’s proposed change to the rules was adopted without even a miniscule edit to stipulate parking and golf carts must remain within the borders of the campground.
At issue here is not the fact that almost any proposal that will potentially enrich a developer and generate more revenue for the county is assured of passage. On behalf of their developer clients, a couple of our skilled lawyers have perfected their presentation, routinely convincing the commissioners the county’s zoning is riddled with more mistakes than Bush’s has baked beans. At Tuesday’s County Commissioners meeting, no one objected to the proposed expansions.
The issue is the unfortunate impact on our Worcester County community. It’s how cheaply our County Commissioners value the well-being of our citizens. Public safety is being sold for next to nothing at a time when the County Commissioners, intent on building an athletic complex before fully assessing its economic impact, want to show Wall Street our revenue base will expand faster than our expenditures and borrowing grow.