Report On The Last Two Community Meetings In Ocean City

Little Mac's HQ at the Battle of Antietam
Little Mac's HQ at the Battle of Antietam

I now have two community meetings to report on and what to me were some excellent ideas. 

It was suggested that a way to balance staffing in the Police Department between the summer and winter months would be to hire new police officers to 9 month duty with a mandatory furlough three months out of the year (similar to school teachers.)  As fulltime policemen retire those “junior” officers could be promoted to fulltime duties.  A problem with these union contracts is that union employees typically reach the top of the pay scale in ten years and work at the maximum for most of their tenure.  If new hires are held out of the steps until they reach fulltime employment it would take longer to climb to their salary peak.  Those measures would save taxpayer dollars without adversely impacting public safety.

Another suggestion was to assess an impact fee on any new development.  Here it is the taxpayer that is on the hook for upgrades to the sewer system and the more frequent street repaving that is required as a result of ever increasing development.  Florida imposed an impact fee that is a percentage of the selling price of new construction.  The collected fee is then available to offset the costs of the increasing the capacity of the sewer system and to repave streets that have been torn up by road cuts.  These associated costs of development should be absorbed as a business expense of the developer and not be a burden to the taxpayer. 

Once again it was suggested that the City identify an advocate to help walk property owners thru the steps required to rebuild their homes, and to offer assistance with and clarification of zoning and building regulations.  It’s too overwhelming for the layman to do alone.  Simply stated, people need to know what it is they’re required to do and how to go about it.

We also heard from a resident living in a mixed use zone.  Building residential on top of commercial seemed like a good idea but it hasn’t worked out in practice.  It was stated that much of the commercial space on the ground floor sits vacant.  Now there’s even a bigger problem.  Since commercial is built at ground level it may be impossible to obtain flood insurance.  The resident also stated that people are living on the first (commercial) floor of those buildings and that there doesn’t seem to be much enforcement.  Allowing storage on the ground floor didn’t go over so well “are you kidding me?”  “The City needs to address the situation.”

Finally it was stated by a member of the Planning Board that flooding and drainage needs to be addressed in the Master Plan with an updated Storm Water Management Plan.  That the one we now have is obsolete and all but worthless.  It was also stated that the area West of West Avenue will be subject to flooding no matter what you do.  That being the case it makes sense to me to limit development in that area of town.  But alas the opposite is true.  The first application of Coastal Cottage is going in along Haven in a section of town that regularly floods.  Whereas in the past one or two commercial buildings might have been affected, now 18 residences are at risk.  And it kind of makes you wonder ... is that why Haven and Simpson were originally zoned for commercial?

This is a short write up but I tried to hit the major points.  What these community meetings have come to show is that if you reach out to the public you’ll find that there’s a wealth of insight and ideas you can tap into.  Councilman Guinosso gets four stars for attending every meeting so far.  Mayoral candidate Ed Price attended this last one.

It’s likely I’ll change the venue for the next meeting.  Stay tuned.

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blaise February 26, 2014 at 08:03 AM
I'm curious to what a "beginner" skate park would look like, wouldn't that just be a parking lot? I wonder if it would be worth considering an all out type of park instead of the small one we had? The ones in California are state of the art and rather large and charge a small $3-$6 admission fee or an annual membership. http://www.coronado.ca.us/department/index.php?fDD=17-0 The question, obviously, would be where to put something like this, but it could potentially draw in visitors. We need to be a little more current in our entertainment than having Mr Mature contests, guys in suits walking into the ocean or Marty the Mollusk days
Chris Pustizzi February 26, 2014 at 09:12 AM
My understanding is that the proposed purpose and design of a new park will be substantial enough to cater to all levers of skateboarding & to attract tourism. I agree building back what they had , a temporary set-up, or catering to little kids would be a waste.
patty giesecke February 26, 2014 at 09:25 AM
Thank you Eric for the informative update!
Eric Sauder February 26, 2014 at 02:27 PM
I haven't seen the plans for the new skate board park if in fact they exist. I'm going by what was stated by a councilman at the meeting. Hopefully it will offer something for all ages. And I agree that it would be better to have it segregated ... one area for the more accomplished and another area for beginners and the very young. Mixing them together could be dangerous. Hopefully they'll consider the suggestion.


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