Thoughts From The Publisher's Desk
I like the bikers. In some circles, I know it's not the popular sentiment, but Delmarva Bike Week and all the people it attracts to the shore is a good thing. This is not just an Ocean City event. During this week in September, bikers are everywhere on the shore, bringing with them a spike in sales for a variety of businesses. Sure, there are residents who dread their arrival every September, and some have valid reasons. It's the same thing in May and October when the classic cars roll into the resort area. They are loud and can make getting around on local roads quite difficult and a little frustrating at times. However, a few days of headaches and irritable moments are far outweighed by the positive financial impact they have on local businesses and their employees and subsequently the area's tax coffers. It's understandable to find issues with the bikers, as well as the cruisers, but the naysayers need to understand the big picture - they provide an economic boom at a time when business would more than likely not be too remarkable.
It was impressive to learn this week that 741 of the Ocean City's vanity license plates have been sold as of Sept. 15. The City Clerk's office at City Hall reported this week that about 75 to 100 applications are submitted each month to the Motor Vehicle Administration, which issues the vanity plates. Cost for the plate is $35 with $25 forwarded to the MVA and $10 retained to cover the city's administrative costs.
A committee of public and private interests to study parking in Ocean City seems like a good idea. Councilman Joe Hall pitched the idea at this week's Mayor and Council meeting, and it seemed to have the necessary support to move forward to the appointment process soon. Throughout the course of this summer, there was widespread speculation that Ocean City was more of a daytrip destination to many in the area than it had been in the past. Some business people, specifically in the downtown area, reportedly noticed on a routine basis motorists leaving their vehicles in town lots and on the streets in the automated system all day. The situation at the Inlet parking lot was much of the same, if not under further extremes. Clearly, people do not have a problem paying the current parking rates. Simple economic principles indicate parking fee hike would be appropriate, but this committee could provide the council with some suggestions as to how much it should be raised and where certain increases might be implemented.
It goes without saying that wastewater is not a sexy issue, but this month's announcement that federal stimulus dollars will provide significant funds for two local projects on that front are noteworthy.
In Berlin, about $14 million in various grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will pay for 88 percent of the town's long-awaited plant expansion and enhancement project. Mayor Gee Williams said, 'Berlin will be the first municipality in the state of Maryland to receive federal stimulus money. We will be receiving this for the wastewater treatment plant upgrade and expansion •€¦ This is probably as good news we we'll ever be able to report.' In West Ocean City, a little under $9 million in grants and loans have been allocated through the ARRA to finance the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant for Mystic Harbor.
It's not a topic typically discussed around the water cooler, unlike an alleged pornography ring at a local watering hole, but there's nothing more important to a community's stability, health and safety than the proper handling of sewer matters. It all starts with the infrastructure aspect. These funding announcements are good news on that front, but with these projects will come some concerns about future growth allocations, issues that will be discussed for years to come by current and yet-to-be elected officials.