Voices From The Readers
Be Concerned About About Water Quality
On Aug. 10-12, the Worcester County Fair was held in Byrd Park in Snow Hill and it was a great event for everyone. However, someone decided to put chains across the boat ramps and closed them for all three days of the event with no public notice. There was plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the park and although the town owns Byrd Park it eagerly accepted money from Maryland excise taxes on boats and the Maryland Waterway Improvement Fund to build these ramps. This makes closing them to boaters unbelievable.
Also a new restroom in the park, close to the boat ramp, has been built and construction workers tell me it cost around $100,000 and was funded by Open Space, again taxpayer dollars. Boaters, fishermen and every day park visitors will not be allowed to use this facility for it is reserved for special occasions I am told.
Most important of all, the town continues to accept leachade being trucked from the Worcester County Landfill to be dumped at the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Snow Hill. This waste is treated and then pumped into the Pocomoke River. Leachade is a liquid by-product of the land fill that is saturated with methane gas and hard metals like mercury, zinc, copper and lead to name a few. This Wastewater Treatment Plant has a long troubled history with many violations and was fined $35,000 for one spill into the Pocomoke River. Last year, Salisbury had four large sewage spills into the Wicomico River so this is not just a local issue. The bottom line is money. Worcester County pays the town to allow them to dump leachade at the Snow Hill Waste Water Plant just as private companies that pump out rural septic tanks pay to dump at this facility. In the past, the town has enticed these haulers by offering a very low tipping fee. This is the price they pay to dump here and why they bypass closer plants in their own towns and truck the product longer distance for the money they save.
Yes, you will hear how good this new promised Waste Water Plant is going to be but keep in mind a nearby town recently spent millions of dollars to upgrade its plant and still removes only a fraction of the nitrogen and phosphorous from the waste. Now increase the input from all the new homes the developers have got the approval for and try to understand projections for cleaner river water.
Bottom line is the town can store nuclear waste in the basement of all their buildings and make money but it would probably not be a good investment in our future.
We live in a great country where we are free to express our opinions and I urge you to get involved for your children's sake. These products going into our rivers are dangerous. Look at the cancer rate for this area, for it is one of the highest in the country.
Get involved and contact elected officials and send those e-mails.
Capt Bruce Wootten
OC Not Boat Friendly
Bringing our boat to Ocean City is more trouble than it's worth. Lets face it, Ocean City hates boaters.
My family and I came to our condo, we own it and are forced to rent it out to pay the outrageous taxes, for our week's vacation. We launched our boat at the Little Salisbury ramp, had to wait for almost 40 minutes for our turn, due partly to the fact that half of the boaters can't back up a trailer to save their life and because the area is so tight and congested with parked cars and traffic. I've boated in a few states, but this is the worst ramp I've seen.
After we launched we drove through all the traffic down to the Park and Ride lot, to drop off our trailer for the week, with no fee, which was one thing this town did right. Once I got there, I saw a sign that said 'No Overnight Trailer Parking.' Just because the city can't find a system to monitor how long a vehicle is parked there, they close it off to everybody. I towed my trailer back to my condo left it hooked to my truck and within one hour the police were writing me a warning. He told me to park it at the 100 St. lot, of course, for a hefty fee, $50 for one week.
At the end of our week, I had to circle around in the marsh by the ramp waiting my turn, all along being eaten alive by the greenhead flies. That took another half an hour to get my boat out while nine boats were ahead of me because its a single-lane ramp.
This town is flush with all the new tax dollars we give them so get off your butts and get this new ramp done, and I don't want to hear the usual lip service that you are still searching for the right spot.
Taxi Operating Illegally
(The following letter was addressed to City Hall in Ocean City.)
I wish to bring to your attention taxicabs failing to display their license/permit and running without a meter.
On the evening of Aug. 4 at 11:30 p.m., a group of four of us arranged for a taxi ride from Fager's Island in Ocean City to Smitty McGee's on Route 54. Upon the cab's arrival, we asked the fare from Fager's to our destination. We were advised by the driver that the cost of the fare was unknown and that he would determine it at our destination. When asked where his meter was, he ignored our question. There was no meter visibly functioning, there were also no signs posted with the price per mile. When we arrived at Smitty McGee's, we were told the fare was $35. This was an eight-mile trip and this cost seems a bit excessive for the distance. I believe the taxi company was 'Fast Cab Co.'
Also in the taxi were four other people. Two that were dropped off at 94th Street, charged $20, two that were dropped off at Montego Bay, charged $20, leaving our group which was dropped off at Smitty McGee's and charged $35. Is it legal and customary for multiple fares in the same taxi? Because we anticipated having cocktails with our dinner, we choose to do the responsible thing and take a cab. It is unfortunate for us that we had a bad experience in the town of Ocean City. I would hope that people on vacation were not being taken advantage in this way, when tourism is such a large part of our community.
No To Room Tax Hike
If you thought the "special interests" and lobbying groups were all in Washington, DC, just check out our own Ocean City-based groups who are now on their way to successfully raising room taxes, with the proceeds largely dedicated to increased advertising for the business interests in town, with the full support of the City Council.
This long-term commitment on the part of the city practically assures unfettered annual increases in the city's advertising budget, without regard to the practical implications on the city's finances. Now that we know how to work the system, perhaps local residents and property owners should organize as an "interest group", and propose an additional increase in the room tax, with the proceeds dedicated to reducing the residential property tax rate.
I'm certain the council would "enthusiastically" endorse such a plan. After all, the city manager has been quoted as stating that Ocean City room taxes are "ridiculously low".
A Love Letter To The Insider
(This letter was sent to The Dispatch and addressed to Insider)
I'm writing to you from Wayland, Massach. I'm almost 82 years old and was born on October 31, 1925.
What I really want to say is how much I enjoy your column in The Dispatch.
My friend, Mr. Donald S. Bulmer, who lives in Ocean City, always sends me your articles to read and they are great. You tell it the way it was and what a change has happened in the good old USA as of today.
I just love to read all of the different times and things that you and I might have done in our lifetime.
You make it sound as if I'm back there once again as a youngster and a growing man. It's just wonderful to look back when we really enjoyed life as it was.
I was born in Boston, Mass. of Italian parents who both came from the same town in Salemi, which is near the capitol of the island. I am a pure bred person but I'm a true American no matter if I was born here.
I love some of your sayings that make me feel good and some that I say when people ask me how I feel and I say I'm breathing and I don't want to hear about your problems and you don't want to hear about mine, also life is swell but the truth hurts.
I also read Between the Lines and Steve Green does a very good job on what's what down there also.
So take care and enjoy whatever is left.
Stephen J. Catalanotto
OC In A Crisis
The Town of Ocean City is in crisis and new leadership is needed to solve the problems.
While the town's public relations staff continues to put a positive spin on the number of vacationers, the number of vacationers coming to Ocean City is significantly decreasing when compared to prior years. In past years, one could ride up Baltimore Avenue and see nothing but 'no vacancy signs'. This July 4th, 85 percent of the hotels showed vacancy signs. In past years many parking lots of the condominiums would be filled with cars throughout the week. Now many of these parking lots are only filled on weekends. In past years, on a Saturday afternoon Coastal Highway was bumper-to-bumper traffic with vacationers leaving and those coming to Ocean City to begin their vacations. Now, one can almost ride up Coastal Highway on Saturday without much delay. These are but a few examples of the situations that requires new leadership in Ocean City.
Currently Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan has held elective office for 22 years, Council member Jim Hall has been a council member for 20 years and Council member Nancy Howard has been in office for 10 years. Because of their longevity in office they must bear a significant portion of the blame for the current situation that Ocean City faces. For example, in order to get more vacationers to come to Ocean City, they want to raise the room tax paid by vacationers. It is clear to me that these three individuals are still operating with the view that Ocean City, as described by one official, is a 'cash cow'. Not anymore.
Significant changes are needed in the governing vision, philosophy and organization for Ocean City in the future. I am urging my fellow residents to start thinking about electing a new team of individuals who can provide the leadership to solve Ocean City problems in the context of the competitive market place that we have in the 21st Century.
Richard W. Quinn
Dream Almost Over
My family and I have been coming to OC for many years, My dream was to buy a condo in OC. My parents laughed at me, but I made my dream come true in 2000.
Since that time, prices went so high and it is very difficult with high taxes and low rental to keep my head above water. We live in south east Pennsylvania and there are lots of people in this area that come to OC for their vacation, but in last three years more and more people tell me they now go to Virginia Beach and Myrtle Beach rather then OC. They tell me they can go further and it is cheaper.
I also have several friends that are golfers. I hear OC is trying to draw golfers to OC, but they to tell me they can't afford to come to OC, they say they can go further south and the golf game is like half the price and same with condo/motel rates. OC taxes are high, but Worcester is almost out of sight. My dream is coming to an end unless something changes with room taxes/food prices.
To increase room rates more is wrong, I think you need to cut somewhere else and find money. We were planning on making this our home when we retire, but the way prices are, we won't be able to live here when we retire.
Teen Drinking Story Could Make Good Book
Kudos to Ali Baker who wrote the story about the 1986 lightning strike. Having experienced that incident, first hand, I can attest what a wonderful writer Ali is. She recounted the story to a tee. While reading it in The Dispatch, I truly felt like I was reliving the entire episode. It was somewhat surreal
Many beach patrons fail to heed the advice of the lifeguards to leave the beach when a storm is in the area. It only takes one stray volt to turn a great beach day into a tragic event.
Ali posed the question to me whether there were any long-term effects, in any way, from being hit by lightning. At the time, I couldn't think of any, except to mention, in jest, it probably caused me to be somewhat 'eccentric' in my ways. However, having had some time to ponder Ali's question, I have come to the realization that the electricity which ran through my body did do something. I believe the 'spark' fired up some synapses in my brain, connecting more neurons and making me a creative genius. I say this because 10 years later, not only did Mike Perry of the OCBP get struck by lightning when clearing the beach on 60th Street, but another tragic event occurred on July 23, 1996. A student/athlete who I taught and coached at Boys' Latin school was tragically killed in a car accident. This young man was drinking and driving. From this incident, I decided to try and do something (my creative genius started to kick in, thanks to all the electricity) about the epidemic in today's society of underage drinking and drug use. I went back to the exact spot where I had been struck by lightning, sat in a beach chair, and wrote a children's book entitled, 'Animal Rain'. I wrote this book in memory of Patrick Martin Radebaugh, the young man who died July 23, 1996. I wrote the story through Patrick's eyes, feeling his eternal energy, while sitting on the lightning strike spot.
As an educator for the last 23 years, I know first hand we are losing the battle against teenage drinking. Trying to educate, even at the middle school level, is still too late to try to head off the drinking and drugging that is so prevalent among our youth. We must start at the elementary level, even as early as kindergarten, to have any chance to fight this demon. This is where my children's book comes in. The character I created is Patrick, himself (Radey). Using this book as a springboard in elementary school classes, I am confident I can read my story and kids will relate to Radey in a positive way. Then I can explain to them, Radey is based on a real life person who died because he chose to drink and drive. The dialogue gets opened at a young age, and teachers across America can start to battle this drinking and drug epidemic by using my book, 'Animal Rain'
So, if there are any publishers, MADD, and/or illustrators out there, please contact me at 410-289-5977, so we can get this book in print, and fight the good fight. Let's do it before another lightning bolt strikes, and another teen dies, unnecessarily, because nobody read him the story, 'Animal Rain' when they were little and discussed the perils of drinking and drug use. Mr. Publishers, et al, you will not be disappointed if you make this grassroots idea a reality.
Anyway, Ali Baker, great article. Your journalism professors at Salisbury University would be very proud.