Council Extends Boat Ramp Hours

OCEAN CITY – Recreational boaters utilizing the town’s old public boat ramp in the Little Salisbury community can enjoy the water a little later after resort officials last week agreed to extend the hours of operation at the facility.

For years, the public boat ramp in the north-end Little Salisbury community was the only public boat ramp within town limits and it was used heavily. In 2017, the town opened a new, larger public boat ramp at 64th Street. The new two-ramp facility is located near the town’s larger public works complex. That public boat ramp is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

When the new ramp opened in 2017, it was decided to keep the existing public boat ramp in Little Salisbury open on a limited basis with an automated gate system. Boaters from the community, and anywhere else for that matter, can purchase a $50 pass allowing them to access the gated ramp, which is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day from April to October.

During last Monday’s meeting, Council President Matt James broached the subject of extending the hours of operation for the Little Salisbury public boat ramp. While the sun is setting a little later by degrees each day now, James said he has heard from some boaters in the community the 6 p.m. closing time is too early through much of the summer.

“I was going to bring this up at a work session, but that would be another month of the season gone, so I’m going to bring it up now,” he said. “We have a boat ramp in Little Salisbury that used to be the only public boat ramp in town. Residents are allowed to purchase a gate pass for the ramp in the amount of $50. However, there are restrictions to the pass, and they don’t line up with when a lot of people like to boat.”

James said some in the recreational boating community have approached him about possibly extending the hours at the public ramp in Little Salisbury.

“I’ve heard concerns about the hours,” he said. “At least one resident I spoke with is asking for an extension of the hours. I’m asking to waive or amend the current hours at the boat ramp in Little Salisbury to 7 a.m. for the opening and 9 p.m. for the closing.”

James said many boaters like to go out on the water later in the day and the 6 p.m. close time at the ramp made that challenging for some, although the 64th Street public ramp is open at all hours.

“The thought is it stays light or light enough after 6 p.m.,” he said. “A lot of people get off work and like to go out on their boat.”

Council Secretary Tony DeLuca made a motion to amend the hours of operation at the Little Salisbury public boat ramp to 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on a test basis for now and bring it back for a discussion at a future work session, a motion that passed unanimously. Councilman Mark Paddack encouraged residents and boaters in the Little Salisbury community to attend that work session.

“At the work session, I would hope that members of the Little Salisbury community would come here and give us some feedback,” he said. “This is a temporary modification until we can have it brought back before the public.”

Mayor Rick Meehan pointed out the $50 gate pass for the public ramp at Little Salisbury is not limited to the residents of that north-end community.

“The $50 fee is not inclusive to Little Salisbury residents,” he said. “Anybody can pay that fee, so boats from anywhere can now come there until 9 p.m. It’s still a significant number of people. I think we will certainly garner some comments at our next work session.”

After years of wrestling with an outdated and over-utilized public boat ramp in the Little Salisbury residential area, along with complaints of traffic, parking, noise and litter, the town identified the site at 64th Street as a more appropriate location for the city-owned boat ramp because it is surrounded by commercial and governmental uses and is located closer to the center of the resort.

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.