(Feb. 12, 2021) The Ocean City Development Corporation faced a challenging year for revitalization projects. Even so, high building material costs and delayed shipments did not deter the organization from continuing downtown improvement projects. Now, the nonprofit corporation hopes to carry the momentum forward into 2021 by reinvesting in the Downtown Street Lighting Program to improve public safety.
At an Ocean City Police Commission meeting on Monday, OCDC President Kevin Gibbs said his organization will work with the Town of Ocean City and the Ocean City Police Department to reinvigorate the voluntary lighting improvement program to aid with crime prevention.
Retired Officer Mark Pacini presented an overview of the program and a map of downtown areas the program hopes to target.
Pacini walked side streets between the Boardwalk and Washington Lane, identifying some of the city’s darkest public spaces and rights of way. Mayor Rick Meehan suggested the program expand focus, “all the way back from the Boardwalk to Baltimore Avenue.”
OCDC hopes business and property owners will be incentivized to join the program by up to 50 percent reimbursement of the cost of purchase and installation of light fixtures, up to a maximum of $500 assistance. Gibbs installed LEDs along the exterior of his family restaurant, The Dough Roller, lighting up popular walkways along South Division Street and the Boardwalk.
“The project only cost the business between three to four hundred dollars,” Gibbs said.
Meehan reminded Gibbs that hotels have reported nuisance light shining through guest windows. Gibbs, in turn, suggested directional lighting that can be pointed to specific areas, limiting light interference with hotel windows.
As the commission brainstormed about viable crime reduction solutions for property owners, Meehan asked, “Have we talked to anyone about Ring doorbells?”
Police partnerships with Ring, an Amazon video doorbell unit, are an established law enforcement tool: Ring currently works in partnership with more than 1,300 police departments in the United States. If OCPD chose to partner with Ring, they would gain access to a Law Enforcement Portal, through which they could request footage from owners through its Neighbors app, where Ring owners may upload clips from video doorbells.
Through the app, police can request video from a specific location, and anyone in that area with a Ring camera can voluntarily send videos to their local police department if they want to participate.
Meehan’s mention of a Ring camera partnership presented a new topic for the commission, but all agreed the subject was worth exploration. Ocean City Councilman Peter Buas said he just purchased a $200 Ring doorbell for his home and feels the expense would make implementation of an OCPD/Ring partnership difficult. As the video doorbell was not included in the commission’s agenda, Gibbs said OCDC would gather information and report back to OCPD.
For now, the Light Up Downtown Program provides an opportunity for local businesses and property owners to offset the cost of improving public safety.
For more information or to fill out the OCDC application for the Downtown Lighting Program, visit https://oceancitymd.gov/oc/light-up-downtown-program/