We enjoyed your recent opinion column (“Fish Powell stood by his community,” OC Today, Aug. 31, 2018).
The article stated that “[Ocean City] was more of a town then, rather than a product,” the word “then” referring to Fish Powell’s day. Another way of saying that is “Ocean City was more of a community then, rather than a business.”
We agree. We have been property owners in Ocean City since 1984 and residents since 2005, and we have witnessed this change.
In many ways, business values are at odds with community values in Ocean City. The most urgent area where these two sets of values conflict concerns the issue of injuries and deaths on Ocean Highway.
Ocean City is rightfully concerned and active about this issue (that is the “community” part). But while enacting proper measures like crosswalks, fences and speed limits, the city ignores the most important cause – too many cars and pedestrians on Ocean Highway.
In our almost 35 years here, we have seen a relentless expansion of hotels and condominiums, putting ever more and more vehicles and pedestrians on the roads. The attraction? More tax revenue. This is the business part, which is overruling the community part.
The unrelenting expansion of hotels and condominiums in Ocean City is our main concern and frustration. Having made that point, we would like to expand on the concepts of community and business as they exist in Ocean City.
The issue of deaths and injuries is just one example of conflict of these sets of values in Ocean City. Another example is the Boardwalk Dumser’s issue. For sure there has been a huge outpouring of community support in favor of Dumser’s remaining where it is.
This is the community part. But still, the council insists on tearing the building down. Why? That is the business part.
Consider the issue of parking meters in Ocean City. Could any issue be a better example of business concerns conflicting with community concerns?
Several years ago, the council did withdraw its proposed parking meter plan in the face of a potential citywide ballot referendum, but that withdrawal was self-serving, done in order to avoid certain defeat and to keep the option alive for some time in the future when community motivations are not so strong.
Recent actions by the council show that parking revenues are still strongly on the mind of the council.
In a different vein, we are amazed that we can spend a week at a fine all-inclusive hotel (all-inclusive means including airfare, luxury hotel mini-suite, food and drinks all day, entertainment, beach, pool, etc.) on a beautiful beach in the Caribbean (there are hundreds to choose from) for the cost of a week’s lodging (i.e., lodging only) in Ocean City.
To the doubters, we say that we have done just that for one week every winter for the past eight years (our summers are spent in Ocean City). Why is an Ocean City vacation so expensive? Taxation is my guess as the leading cause. That is the business part.
Not all issues involving community and business in Ocean City are traceable to the council and tax revenues. We can’t help but mention one example of the decline of community in Ocean City. That is the stream of letters to your paper decrying Trump flags flying around town.
Mr. Trump is our president (like it or not). If citizens want to show their support for their president, a compassionate community would be tolerant.
In that case, if a citizen didn’t like seeing Trump flags, the citizen would make a statement by avoiding the businesses flying it. We don’t recall any fuss about Obama bumper stickers, lawn signs and flags.
Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the many ways that community and business work together successfully in Ocean City. Our businesses support many excellent community programs and facilities.
To name a few: Believe in Tomorrow House, Sunset Park concerts, Northside Park and all of its activities, Winterfest of Lights, fireworks, Springfest and Sunfest, the Art League of Ocean City, and many more.
Success in Ocean City is measured by the number of visitors attracted to the city by an event. This measure has undertones of business, but understanding that the community of Ocean City consists of residents, property owners and visitors indicates this measure has value. We also must acknowledge that the city government and city businesses are also a part of the community.
The Ocean City community has been weakened in recent decades, but it survives. We, the community as just defined, must be diligent to ensure that our community values and business values are mutually and positively supportive.
I refer the reader back to the second paragraph above as the best and most urgent place to begin.
Bert and Maggie Meyer