Thoughts From The Publisher's Desk
The specifics of the conversation behind closed doors at City Hall on Tuesday is unknown, but it's clear tensions were running high and that's why a closed session planned for an hour went for two-plus. The exact nature of the comments are unclear, but the City Council members showed the wear and tear from a frustrating private discussion on their faces when they finally adjourned to conduct the public meeting. At one point, City Manager Dennis Dare came into the council chambers to tell the press and city staff that things were running late behind closed doors and he acknowledged there was some heat being exchanged. How ugly things got is debatable, but what is known is it had something to do with the Ocean City Air Show and contractual negotiations for the 2010 event. Most council members refused to discuss the details of the talks, as they are supposed to with closed session meetings, but it was made clear the event is not in jeopardy of leaving town over whatever it was that took place between the promoter and city officials. If recent history is any indication, sooner or later details will leak out from those discussions.
Although stranger things have happened, it appears all but a certainty that Delegate Jim Mathias and hotelier Michael James will be seeking the district Senate seat currently occupied by conservative stalwart Lowell Stoltzfus. There has been no official press conference announcing a filing by either, and nothing's set in stone until that happens, but in all likelihood the Mathias name will be on the Democratic primary in September and James on the Republican ticket. It's worth point out there are sure to be other names on the primary tickets for both parties before the filing deadline passes. If Mathias and James prevail in their respective primaries, it would set the stage for a rematch of the hotly contested 2006 House of Delegate contest that Mathias and Conway won over James and Bonnie Luna. It's going to be interesting to see how things unfold in this Senate race, but also compelling to see who joins Pocomoke Mayor Michael McDermott in the race for Mathias' delegate seat. Conway's seat is also up for grabs next year.
The clock is now ticking on a two-month project to replace an 85-foot section of the Route 90 Bridge over the Assawoman Bay. All this really means is inconvenience for all of us who use the road to get to the mid-town area of Ocean City and points west. Understandably, there are some residents north of the bridge in Ocean City who fear adequate travel time in the case of an emergency. One concerned citizen I heard from this week posed a hypothetical scenario involving the need to take her son to the emergency room in Berlin. She said she would have to drive from her 94th Street area home south to the Route 50 Bridge and east to Berlin. That adds about 10 to 15 minutes to the route if there's no traffic, she says, and could be significant in a dire emergency. That's an understandable concern, and surely there are others in the community with similar gripes. When she asked me what I would do in that hypothetical situation, I said just call 911 and request an ambulance.
Staying with the bridge project, it seems to me a logical way to recycle the surface removed from the apex of the span is as an offshore reef of some sort. Rather than simply having the removed 85-foot section of concrete pulverized and headed for a landfill or some other undisclosed site, as is usually the case in these types of situations, a grassroots effort is underway to see if the portion removed can be added to an existing artificial reef site offshore. This makes sense and there's a recent and local precedent. Part of the massive Woodrow Wilson Bridge structure is being used in the Chesapeake Bay as a reef site. Hopefully, all the complexities will be worked out because this seems like an excellent way to extend the life of something that has no further uses above ground due to a structural deficiency.