Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – July 21, 2023

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – July 21, 2023

There should be some news on the proposed Margaritaville project in Ocean City soon. Slated to be built on property formerly home to the Phillips Beach Plaza between 13th and 14th streets, Margaritaville, as currently is known, is proposed to consist of 257 hotel rooms, three restaurants, at least one bar, three outdoor pools, one indoor pool, a wellness center and gym, retail stores and 14,000 square feet of convention space.

It appears the developer will be presenting City Hall with a couple courses in the coming week. First, attorney Hugh Cropper is planning to ask the Mayor and Council to reconsider a right-of-way conveyance issue that has led the developer to abandon the concept of a Planned Overlay District redevelopment. If the council is unwilling to take another look at the previous decision, the developer is planning to submit a scaled-down version of the original project, according to Cropper.

As far as how different the project will be, the changes will be significant and the building smaller. It seems a similar amount of hotel rooms is envisioned in this backup plan, but significantly less amenities and reduce convention space will be offered. There will be much more to come on this in the near future.

It was a surprise this week to learn a mainstay on October’s special event calendar – the Free State Corvette Club’s Corvette Weekend – will not return this year.

While there seems to be some early excitement for the new Bronco event planned to replace the corvettes, some questions surfaced this week as far as what happened to the corvette event, a mainstay for decades in October in Ocean City. There was no discussion as to the state of the corvette event at this week’s meeting.

In a statement on the club’s website, Free State Corvette Club President Craig N. Steinbock confirmed the 2023 event will not place but reported intentions to return next year. The statement read, “Unfortunately, the FSCC had too many impediments to host our charity event this year. We anticipate being able to resolve these dilemmas and return in 2024. Please check our website, for future updates. We would like to thank all of those who have supported Corvette Weekend over the last 35+ years, which enabled us to donate over one million dollars to various 501 C3 Maryland based charities.”

Last year’s corvette event evidently ran into some new logistical issues as a result of Sunfest being moved into October because of the new Oceans Calling festival. Sunfest began the week after the corvette event and the required setup in the Inlet had an impact. Correspondence on the club website to event participants last year detailed the new concerns with the schedule change. It read, “Ocean City needs 10 days to set up the Inlet for the event which means the need to be setting up for Sunfest before Corvette Weekend even starts and that is the challenge. Typically, Corvette Weekend is provided contiguous inlet space equal to two thirds of the inlet for our event. Even when we shared the space with the Spartans we had the same amount of space, but at the other end of the inlet. For this year (2022), OC has given us the entire inlet, however, we need to work around the 10 large tents. What’s not shown in either of these two pictures/diagrams are the four full rows of parking spaces that are to the left of the large tent. We will be able to utilize these for our event.”

Will Maryland legislators hold a special session anytime soon? There have been calls in recent weeks for the Maryland General Assembly to convene before next January to discuss two issues – the 5-cent automatic gas tax increase that went into effect in late June as well as recent gun violence.

In Maryland, the governor is the only official who can order a special session. The governor’s hands are essentially tied if a majority of members from the House and Senate request a special session. Nothing of the sort has happened but legislators have been issuing press releases and making public statements on the need to get together before the real session in January. At this point, nothing appears imminent.

Shore Senator Mary Beth Carozza is one of the leaders seeking a special session to discuss the two issues, In a statement, she said, “Urgent matters call for urgent action. This dramatic spike in juvenile gun violence across the State of Maryland more than justifies a Special Session of the Maryland General Assembly. When I joined with my Republican colleagues last month to call for a Special Session on reducing the gas tax, I realized it was a heavy lift but believed there was an opening with the Governor who indicated that he did not support an automatic gas tax increase. This was before the mass shootings in Baltimore and in Wicomico County, and now we’re hearing from outraged Marylanders who expect us to act now to keep our homes and communities safe.”

For his part, Moore is ignoring calls for convening legislators on the gun violence matter. He told WBAL last week, “There is no plan to have a special session. We don’t have to wait for a session in order to address what is the No. 1 priority for our administration. We are focused on making sure we are getting and keeping these violent offenders, repeat violent offenders off our streets.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.