OCEAN CITY – The City Council agreed to a policy this week proposed by the city engineer to restrict the number of clean ups and repairs that the city provides for the beach crossovers.
City Engineer, Terry McGean came before the council Tuesday to address the ever-increasing issue of clean up and repair of the beach crossovers.
There are 203 dune crossovers along the 10.5 miles of beach in Ocean City, providing access to the beach over the dunes. The dune crossovers were installed as part of the beach replenishment project.
Every spring, the state provides the service of cleaning out and repairing all of the crossovers. In the interim, the city takes responsibility for the maintenance of the crossovers, cleaning and making repairs upon request. Although public works has taken on the project, there is no dedicated crew for the task.
According to McGean, there have been 58 complaints this year, between May 7 and July 5. The complaints require crews to clean out sand or make repairs to the clay base.
McGean said that although many of the calls for crossover service are warranted, there are some that are not. He estimated that 90 percent of the calls are justified, with the other 10 percent made up of people abusing the service.
Despite the issue of unnecessary calls, McGean still wants to maintain the service and remain available for the public.
“It’s important to people who live there, we don’t want to lose the public service aspect of doing that,” McGean said.
The goal is to maintain the public service aspect, but provide limitations to the amount of visits and repairs.
The proposal applies to all three types of crossovers – the handicapped/vehicle crossover, the street-end crossovers and the mid-block crossovers.
The handicapped/vehicle crossovers are the top priority, so the 13 crossovers will be maintained by the city 12 months a year.
The 85 street-end crossovers, second priority, will be maintained by the city from May 1-Nov. 30. The sand will be removed upon request and as needed to make the crossover passable. There will be a maximum of one full cleanout per season by the city with the required approval of the city engineer.
The 105 mid-block crossovers will be maintained by the city from May 1-Sept. 30, with clean out upon request but only one allowed per season. The clay base repair will occur under state contract only.
All of the crossovers will still receive the state spring clean up and repair. Also, any additional work that may be needed after a storm event will be granted at McGean’s direction.
“I think this is a reasonable policy. It puts in place a system of repairs, something that you can tell folks when they call in,” Councilman Jim Hall said.
Councilwoman Nancy Howard also agreed, but added a note of caution.
“Ocean City has always prided itself for it’s access to the beach, we are a public beach,” Howard said. “I just don’t want the message to go out that we’re restricting.”
Howard noted that the dune system itself had caused complaints of restrictions to the beach and she did not want to give people the idea the city was restricting it even further.
McGean agreed he did not want to give that impression, explaining the crews would still be providing the service, but with limitations on the frequency of that service.
“We don’t want to penalize the 90 percent of the people that call with legitimate concerns about the crossovers,” McGean said. “It is our goal to maintain access to the beach for everyone.”