Ocean City Losing Its Classic Appeal
A small fishing village once known for its unique atmosphere and family-oriented appeal has permanently turned for the worst. Ocean City, located at the bottom edge of the Delmarva Peninsula, has been stripped of its classic stick buildings and rare businesses to cater to money-hungry government officials and contractors.
One by one, the timeless buildings, most built in the 1960s and which offered a homey atmosphere that we all remember so well, are being demolished to make way for condominiums and elaborate hotels that now dominate the once dwarfed skyline. We no longer have a “high-rise row,” but rather an entire city made up of the modern high-rise commercial buildings that many tourists and city-goers despise.
Local government officials for Ocean City have become blind to what tourists originally loved about the town. The accelerated growth of the condominium industry in Ocean City has gotten ahead of itself, leaving many condos vacant because of uninterested people who are no longer in the market for such a property, or who can no longer afford it because of high prices.
The town, once desired by many because of its affordability, has become dominated by high prices that are out of the budget range for many who visit. Tourists are now choosing other vacation hot-spots to take their families because of the constant increase in pricing for entertainment, lodging and dining. Furthermore, visitors are no longer impressed by the town, but rather disgusted by the rate of commercialism taking over the once frugal and old town-styled resort.
In the midst of the ever-changing commercial atmosphere, local businesses are beginning to suffer as well. Recent tax increases have threatened to shut down Trimper’s Amusements, a staple business in Ocean City that has been offering entertainment to visitors young and old since 1890. The family and its 14 shareholders will meet after this season to consider selling the majority of the property and ending their historical amusement legacy. The family is finding it more and more difficult to make enough money, one dollar at a time, to meet the increasing taxes, which are assessed at $914,000 this year. The property value, which rose from $24 million in 2004 to $63 million this year, is making it impossible for the family to continue to run the classic black-top-pavement rides that we all remember from our childhood. The Trimper’s are fairly optimistic, hoping that tax relief may be on its way from city officials. Owner and President Granville Trimper is against folding up. It is rumored that he will attempt to operate rides on a small portion of land regardless of what the corporation does as a whole.
It is downright shameful that a family, dedicated to their business and who work tireless days in the grease, sweat and frustrations, are given this tax burden as a thank-you for entertaining the city and contributing to its economy continuously for the past century. It has already been proven that besides the Trimpers, other business owners, who ventured into this small town at the start of the 20th century and founded the great resort that it once was, are now resorting to selling their business property because of increasing costs, both in taxes and other necessities, like insurance. And, with the recent opening of Wal-Mart and Home Depot just over the Route 50 Bridge, businesses that were perhaps in a comfortable state are being forced out of business. The small hardware stores and convenient beach-merchandisers are forced to find alternate jobs or go out of business all together.
Commercialism is taking over the town one block at a time. The sky-rocketing land values and high tax assessments are bringing in good fortunes for contractors of condominiums and city officials and shutting out the small hotels and businesses that made this small resort town once so desired by millions.
Shocked By News
Wow – reading the recent article(s) regarding the Trimper Family contemplating closing their amusement business totally floored me.
As a repeat visitor for the last 40 years, I have witnessed many changes (good and bad) to Ocean City. Thanks to double income families and baby boomers, the cost to do anything in Ocean City is getting out of control. Hotels, condo rentals, real estate, restaurants, retail and even parking.
The only mainstay over these years has been Trimper’s Amusements and it doesn’t cost a small fortune. No matter how old you are – you have to admit, it’s fun there. One can participate with your spouse, date, kids, grandkids or best friend. There’s a little something for everyone there. Whether it’s standing in front of the distorted mirrors, riding the carousel or being close to losing your lunch on the scrambler, it’s all fun. The Trimper family prides itself on maintaining safe amusements and has since 1890 … that’s 1890 everyone.
Gee, didn’t the Travel Channel name Ocean City’s boardwalk as one of the ‘Best in America’? French fries, T-shirts, gooey popcorn and people watching make the Boardwalk great, but you know everyone gravitates to that end of town at least once during their stay.
Just last May, my niece and her family made the trek from Seattle for their first family vacation to Ocean City since expanding their family. It was a mini-family reunion and we relived our memories of past vacations by treating the kids to an afternoon at Trimpers. They had so much fun, they’re coming back again in July. I don’t know how I am going to tell my great nephew that this summer may be his last time in front of those silly mirrors.
Basically what I am trying to convey is that I hope in light of all of the expansion and updating, Ocean City doesn’t lose sight of why millions of visitors keep returning generation after generation … family fun.
A Police State?
Lets see in order to go from Baltimore/DC to Ocean City, we have to get through the Anne Arundel County Police, Maryland Department of Transportation Police, (not counting the Bay Bridge tie ups) Queen Anne County Police, Delaware State Police (if you use Route 404) Easton’s finest, Cambridge Sheriff Department, Salisbury’s whatever Police, and last but not least our grand and glorious all encompassing Maryland State Police (not crime fighters but ticket clerks) all with their countless radar traps from the Bay Bridge and almost to the Boardwalk T-Shirt shops (not much left of anything else for the tourist) in Ocean City.
Then once you get to Ocean City we now have to deal with Chief Bernadette DiPino and her bunch. Now an additional treat, I understand that the Ocean City Police are to experiment With Taser guns to defend “Condo City”. And we wonder why tourism has dropped off, and people sell their vacation condos/homes in an average of seven years from the date of purchase.
Gee wiz I forgot, if you venture over to Assateague Island State and National Park, you may encounter the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police and National Park Police, respectively. Did someone say police state?
Reasons For No Vote
Whether you voted yes or no on the Community Center referendum, fate and the Post Office have given us a rare opportunity to give our choice a second thought. I voted No and will vote No again and here are the reasons why:
Our Board has asked us to “approve the OPA continuing construction of the new Community Center at a cost estimate of 5.4 million dollars”. The operative words here are “Estimate” and “Continuing”. It is similar language to “Anticipated” $3.9 million used in the Community Center referendum in 2005. The Board’s interpretation of “Anticipated” and “Construction Costs” in the 2005 referendum is what triggered a lawsuit and the current referendum.
“Estimated” and “Continuing” are non-binding. It does not assure us that the Board will only spend an additional $1.5 million above the $3.9 million that was “Anticipated” in the original 2005 Community Center referendum.
It does not assure us, that the Board as permitted in our by-laws, will not spend an additional $1 to $1.25 million above the $5.4 million that a yes vote will authorize. It doesn’t even bind the Board to any of the funding scenarios outlined in the referendum covering letter. It does not assure us that the Board will not partially or fully fund the Community Center with assessments.
You may believe we need a new Community Center, but do you believe the skies the limit? I don’t. “Estimated” really ask us to believe that the Board is fiscally responsible, creditable and we can trust their judgment. In view of recent history, I can’t bring myself to do that and I will vote no.
This Board is spending close to 1 million unbudgeted dollars on a pool cover and evaded community approval of that expense via a referendum. They voted $20,000 unbudgeted dollars to heat the swim & racket club pool. On top of that we have unknown penalties pending from an IRS audit of the OPA. We need to renovate the old Community Center and Fire House and that will cost at least $1.5 million. The Swim and Racket Club Marina renovation is still pending and that’s estimated at around $1 million. Cathell Road is slated for realignment and repaving and that was deferred to this year because it was thought the prices bid were too high last year. We have finally commenced to build up our reserves so that we can properly maintain our infrastructure. Don’t you think we have enough on our plate? But the OPEG Board majority will be in office until August and who knows what else they will bring us between now and then.
It is my hope that my no vote and those of others will send a message to this Board and future Boards that the OPA will not tolerate fiscal mismanagement or hypocrisy. It will send a message to those on the Board that are eligible to run again; don’t even think about it.
Annual Jam A Success
A big thanks goes out to all those who attended and supported the Musicians Scholarship Award Jam held Sunday, April 27 at Seacrets.
With as much talent as these high school students have, the Ocean City area can look forward to some great new musicians in the future. With the success of this year’s fundraiser, Stephen Decatur High School students continuing their education and musical goals can apply for the 2008 Musicians Scholarship Award.
Funds raised at last year’s jam will be awarded to two students at the Senior Awards Ceremony on Wednesday May 23 at Stephen Decatur High School. We would personally like to thank Chauncey’s, Fish Tales, Harley Davidson of Ocean City, Iguana Surf, the Sunset Grille, Beach Music, and Frontier Town for donating auctioned items and Seacrets and Ocean 98.1 for providing a great venue and all their support.
Skip McGarry, Brenda Golden, and Darin Engh
Thanks To Volunteers
I would like to thank all the volunteers who have helped with the Hospice Geranium Flower Sale last weekend at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Ocean City. Without them I could not have made our Ocean City location a success.
The volunteers were Sherry Nahm, Mike England, Joan Fonte, Michelle Fonte, Ron Thomson, Frances Durham, Dan Peletier of the Kiwanis and Stephen Decauter High School Key Club members Kyle Caudill, Lauren Powell, Chelsea Divenanzio, Lanssa Lam.
I would like to say a special "thank you" to everyone of you for all your hard work for our Hospice Fundraiser. A special thank you to Ernie "Buddy" Matthews for being the chairman of the whole Hospice Geranium Fundraiser for all his hard work before, during and after the sale. He drove over several Delmarva counties to make sure everything was running smoothly during this Hospice fundraiser as well as planning, phone calling and numerous behind the scene this.
Many thanks to all our volunteers, and thank you to everyone in our communities who purchased geraniums for the Coastal Hospice fundraiser.