(Aug. 10, 2018) Despite some confusion concerning OC Jeep Week organizers’ request for a beach obstacle course at this year’s rally, the City Council on Monday unanimously approved Live Wire Media’s bid to give Jeep enthusiasts something new to do later this month.
Lisa Mitchell, special events coordinator, presented to the council a request to offer a new component for the annual OC Jeep Week, which this year is scheduled for Aug. 23-26.
“The producers would like to add an obstacle course, from Thursday to Saturday, north of the pier to Dorchester Street,” she said.
The course would host two shifts of 150 jeeps starting at 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with an hour-and-a-half break for course maintenance, and a second round of participants competing from 2-5 p.m., Mitchell said.
“The producers would be responsible for the creation, maintenance and securing of this beach obstacle course,” she said.
The closed course would also require participating Jeeps to be inspected for oil leaks, Mitchell said, with no town support required for build up or tear down.
“City staff will be in contact to monitor it, since it’s a new event, and make necessary modifications if needed,” she said. “This is standard with any new event the town allows.”
Councilman Dennis Dare, after seconding a motion from Councilwoman Mary Knight to approve the request, questioned the aftermath.
“What about returning the beach to its pre-existing condition?” he said.
Brian Shane, with Live Wire Media, who is assisting event founder Brad Hoffman with this years’ logistics, confirmed the sand would be left pristine.
Dare asked why the request was being submitted just two weeks before the event.
Mitchell said Hoffman proposed adding a beach course earlier this summer to the Recreation and Parks Department.
“We’ve been working with the other departments to fine-tune it where it would be most beneficial for both the participants and the town,” she said.
Dare then asked if the larger event had already been approved, which traditionally includes a Jeep parade along the beach from 29th Street to the inlet lot.
“So, really the only thing we’re reviewing tonight is the obstacle course,” he said.
Council president Lloyd Martin noted the approval request would also increase the number of Jeeps in the parade from 250 to 300.
Dare reiterated his earlier concern about minimal approval timeframes.
“If there’s an issue … there’s no time to fix it,” he said. “It needs to be submitted earlier.”
Shane said a meeting with city staff was held at the convention center on July 27, at which time department heads were able to review the proposal and pose questions.
“It is kind of a last-minute thing … but working with all the professionals who know these events, they all felt comfortable that the plan was going to work,” he said.
Shane also said Live Wire Media would be responsible for all aspects of the obstacle course.
“Everything from clearing the beach in the event of lightning, to people who have drips coming out of their car,” he said. “They’re going to have serious safety barriers ... to make sure pedestrians are going to be completely clear of this event.”
Shane added that the beach course area would reopen for public use after the second round of competitions are completed each day.
The plans state Jeeps would be operated between 5-10 mph on the obstacle course, which would be enclosed by water barriers capable of stopping vehicles traveling 55 mph. The course will measure 125-feet wide by 320-feet long and be a minimum of 35-feet off the Boardwalk, with spotters and monitors on hand.
“It’s a simple course … about half a block wide ... and sort of a zigzag,” he said. “Nothing big or ugly … this is kind of a kiddie course for the Jeeps.”
Shane said the course site plan had been approved by the Recreation and Parks department.
Dare also asked about Jeeps parking at the inlet lot in light of the city’s new pay-by-plate system.
Participants would be given a special parking code valid only for the duration of that day’s event, Mitchell said.
“Since some vehicles in the parade start [on the beach] and exit the inlet lot, we’re looking to see what happens if you’re not photographed coming in, but [are] coming out,” she said.
Mitchell also confirmed that city staff would be on hand to ensure that the course’s construction meets city standards.
Councilman Tony Deluca asked if the council had already approved the OC Jeep Week beach parade for this year.
“I don’t remember an application prior to this one that came to the town,” Mitchell said. “When it comes to the parade, and now this additional event, they always come before council for approval.”
Council Matt James asked if voting “no” for the request would effectively end Jeep Week this year.
Mitchell said that would only hold true for events being held on city property.
“The event comes annually, and it takes place at different locations in Worcester County,” she said. “The other events in Worcester County taking place on private property would happen.”
Councilman Wayne Hartman said the late request was initially confusing and later concerning.
“I thought this was approved and was just being tweaked when I read it,” he said. “You guys have sold tickets and passes. Isn’t this taking a lot for granted if this is just coming to us?”
Mitchell said the obstacle course was suggested after the application was initially submitted in June, and the delay in presenting was an attempt to streamline affairs.
“Instead of bringing it to council twice, we tried to put it all together to present at once,” she said.
When Mitchell was asked by Martin if any department heads had questions following the July 27 meeting, she said they did not.