OCEAN CITY – Ocean City’s Economic Development Committee
(EDC) met this week to discuss a wide variety of important local issues, from
what is going on in Annapolis with the General Assembly to other pertinent
issues closer to home. The following is a quick look at some of the highlights
from Wednesday’s meeting:
EDC Chairman Dr. Lenny Berger told the assembled
members he had been asked by State Comptroller Peter Franchot to serve on his
blue ribbon committee to fight slots in Maryland.
Berger, a prominent resort hotelier who has long been a staunch opponent of
slots in Ocean City, said referendums to approve slots
in other jurisdictions had failed seven out of eight times previously.
In his report on the state of the real estate
market in the resort area, Coastal Association of Realtors spokesman Duke
Brooks told EDC members there was “light at the end of the tunnel” in that a
renewed interest in primary homeownership following years looking at real
estate as a quick investment boom. Brooks said the market is getting back to
the point “people are looking for a place to live, not a place to make a quick
killing by flipping a property for a 300-percent return after just nine months.
Those days are over.” Brooks said the inventory has been creeping downward
while demand has remained stable, resulting in a slight upturn in the market.
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan told EDC members the
air show in the resort in June had been finalized with the event planned for
June 10-11 on the beach between 14th and 17th Streets.
Meehan said the mid-week dates in June were favorable because “it would create
another attraction mid-week during a time when business was a little soft.”
Meehan said show promoters have reached agreements with several prominent air
show acts including several from the various armed services branches.
Meehan also told the EDC there was an important
meeting on next week’s City Council agenda involving the future of fire and
emergency services in the resort. The issue boiled to a head last spring when
the 107-year-old volunteer fire company clashed with City Manager Dennis Dare
and paid fire and emergency services over each group’s role in the future.
Cooler heads have apparently prevailed and both groups appear to have reached
some sort of agreement on their respective roles. Meehan said the volunteer
fire company plays an important role and the town could not provide public
safety without them, and also said, “we’re going through some growing pains
while we integrate our paid fire company.”
Marlin Club President Bill Regan delivered a brief report on the state of
recreational fishing in the resort. Although Regan predicted a tough summer
ahead with rising fuel prices driving the cost of a typical offshore charter up
to $2,000 or more, his report was not all gloom and doom. Regan said the fall
inshore fishing season was strong and will continue to grow with smaller
charters offering trips in the $400-$500 range.
OCDC Director Glenn Irwin told EDC members the
organization’s downtown walking tours have been successful. The walking tours
feature at least 20 historic buildings in the downtown area marked with
attractive bronze plaques. Most won’t fall under the National Registry of
Historic Places, but there are plenty of interesting old homes and businesses
on the tours. He invited EDC members to take advantage of the program and offer
the walking tours to their guest and customers as an alternative attraction.
Ocean City Hotel/Motel/Restaurant Association
Director Susan Jones told the EDC the popular Delmarva Chef’s Association’s
annual cooking competition would have a local twist this year with the event
open only to chefs and cooks on the Eastern Shore.
In addition, the contest will feature regional cuisine focusing on local
staples such as crab, oysters and rockfish.