It’s natural for there to be logistical concerns about next weekend’s first-ever Oceans Calling Festival. It’s certainly one of the largest special events Ocean City has ever hosted, but its unique nature as far as its schedule of events creates some interesting challenges.
The chief concern is how 10,000 to 15,000 leaving the festival grounds on the beach around the Inlet will safely exit. The transportation plan was announced this week and it’s intricate. There are many layers to the operation, but it chiefly involves the downtown area being closed at 9 p.m. to vehicles in preparation for thousands of pedestrians – many of whom will be soaking up the vibes and drinks throughout the day — spilling out into the streets. Upon leaving the festival, the idea is for the people to either hang out and frequent downtown bars or walk north to N. Division Street to meet buses or to 3rd Street for ride share and taxis. Lane adjustments will be made to allow for easier access to mass transit. It’s going to be complicated and interesting to observe how it plays out. There seems to be confidence in the plan in place, but officials seem to acknowledge inevitable challenges will arise.
The good news is many concert-goers will simply walk or bike home. Hotels along the Boardwalk and elsewhere have seen a significant boost in occupancy rates at summer prices for the weekend of Sept. 30-Oct. 2. There are dozens of hotels within a short walk from the festival. It appears visitors took advantage of this convenient option. A quick Airbnb search finds high occupancy and soaring rates, especially within a couple miles of the Inlet. This will help ease the crunch of the roads. It’s simply unclear at this point how difficult getting around safely will be. A high police presence is expected when the festival ends each night to help people – many of whom will be unfamiliar with the resort.
With any new event, there are concerns. There will be ups and downs, but the concert organizer and the city will learn and tweak plans from night to night as needed. Some pivoting will be required, but the big thing currently is keeping an eye on the weather. From the outset of this event’s planning, Mother Nature has been the biggest unknown. Let’s hope for the best on that front.
In Berlin election news, as has been reported, the filing deadline has come and gone. I have been unchallenged in my bid to represent District 1. It’s understandable for some folks to have concerns about my role as a newspaper editor and an elected official. I have addressed it on social media and in casual conversations with residents, but I should get my views on the record. One Berlin resident called me recently to inquire how I would balance my journalist duties and councilman role. “I am not concerned. I am just interested to see what your plans are,” he said. I can appreciate it and understand it. I also am grateful for the benefit of the doubt being extended to me by our competitors in this industry.
Active media members traditionally do not seek public office. This is no secret, but I am ready to be a part of the government process and be involved in policy making. I have published hundreds of editorials on matters germane to Berlin over my 25-year career as a newspaper editor and publisher, and I am ready to put my ideas and beliefs toward the greater good of the town. In other words, it’s time to get off the sidelines and into the game.
Rather than viewing it as a conflict of interest, my role as a newspaper editor since 1997 provides me with tremendous knowledge, a deep perspective and keen awareness of the Town of Berlin and the issues that have surfaced over the last 25 years and before that. Combine my educated views with a passion to serve the town, along with years of experience working on non-profit boards, and I am confident I will be a solid council person. I will actually be the only elected official on the council who owns a business in municipal limits.
In anticipation of this run for public office, in January of this year, I began shifting much of my daily editing responsibilities to other personnel in our newsroom. Our capable team handles a majority of the newspaper editing responsibilities these days, while I focus on managing and operating the business side. I still write a lot, including editorials and columns, and I will continue sharing my perspective on the news as well as this community.
I understand there may be some concerns with me holding office and being a newspaper editor and publisher, but I have and will make numerous efforts to steer clear of conflicts of interest. For example, I worked with a private graphic designer in Berlin on my campaign materials rather than utilizing the services of my own art department at the newspaper. Furthermore, I will abstain as needed when issues of potential conflict arise, such as legal advertising contracts, of which my newspaper will not bid on to keep things clean. I will also not share private contents of executive sessions as doing so could hurt the town in some respects.
I ask for the citizens’ trust in my ethics and morals. I will not let them down. I will be the first to accept criticism and apologize if I do cross the line. For what it’s worth, I also do not plan to write about myself in this space again.