OCEAN CITY – After seven months of floating the Boathenge idea around the town of Ocean City, members of the Kroart family feels they have finally made headway this week with an ever-increasing number of supporters climbing on board.
Joe Kroart, owner of Ocean Gallery World Center on 2nd Street and the Boardwalk, recently proposed that the town build Boathenge, an attraction that would resemble the world famous Stonehenge, located in England.
Western Nebraska is home to a Stonehenge inspired monument called Carhenge, which resembles Stonehenge but instead is built out of cars. According to Kroart, Carhenge has been a success as a tourist attraction and was even featured in Life Magazine in a two-page spread. It is this kind of attention that Kroart aims to bring to Ocean City.
Although the idea first began circulating among the Kroart family nearly seven months ago, the idea has been gaining momentum over the past few weeks, receiving attention and fueling discussion. According to Kroart, he has seen a major change in support this week.
“Everyone is literally jumping on the boat,” he said, listing the numerous phone calls he’s been receiving in support of Boathenge.
With a recent request from the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA) for more funding from the town for tourism, Kroart feels that Boathenge is the perfect solution.
Kroart explained that the purpose of Boathenge is to attract tourists and to fill restaurants and hotel rooms.
“It’s a public relations battleship that no other resort has,” he said.
With Carhenge bringing thousands of tourists to Nebraska, Kroart feels that Boathenge will have the same affect for Ocean City.
“We need to be thinking outside of the box,” Kroart said, adding that the town needs something unique like Boathenge to attract families from all over.
“Ingenuity is more powerful than money” Kroart added, quoting Albert Einstein.
Kroart also emphasized that this is an idea presented by an Ocean City family to the town for the town to utilize as a family attraction.
“It’s a family idea for families to enjoy,” he said.
With the possibility of a cost efficient family attraction floating on the horizon, supporters from all over town have been contacting Kroart to see how they can help. Kroart explained that he already has people volunteering old boats and also volunteering to help build and maintain the monument. Several newspapers have also contacted Kroart in response to Boathenge.
“This is an ongoing public relations attraction,” Kroart said, explaining that each step of the process would draw attention to the town.
OCHMRA Executive Director Susan Jones feels that the Boathenge proposal holds a lot of potential for Ocean City.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” she said, mentioning the importance of the free publicity that it would acquire for the town.
Jones explained that the idea coincided well with the OCHMRA’s recent request for further funding.
Jones explained that no official stand would made by the OCHMRA until its September meeting, but that a presentation to the Mayor and Council would be effective.
Jones also addressed a few of the concerns that she has heard, mentioning concerns over liability and maintenance. Jones explained that concern for people getting hurt was paramount and that there was also concern over the cost of maintaining Boathenge.
When asked about the issues, Kroart explained that fencing would be provided around Boathenge and that he had numerous people already who were volunteering to help maintain the monument.
Jones also addressed the issue of placement. As it stands now, Kroart is proposing that Boathenge be located on the beach at 2nd Street in front of his Ocean Gallery business.
Jones offered alternatives such as Sunset Park and the beach at North Division Street, and Kroart insisted that Boathenge be located on the beach.
“The beach is a phenomenal attraction,” Kroart said.
Kroart feels that without the beach, Boathenge would not maintain the same impact.
“People are going to be lining up every morning to watch the sunrise through Boathenge,” Kroart said assuredly.
Councilwoman Mary Knight said, “even though I think it would be a great tourist attraction, my biggest concern would be safety.”
Knight explained that at this point she is concerned with the safety aspect for the visitors. She added that the council had not yet seen a formal presentation and the council would be more than willing to hear Kroart’s ideas officially.
“At that point I would take an objective look at the idea,” she said.
Councilwoman Nancy Howard agreed that a presentation before the city council would be effective.
“It sounds like it has a lot of potential,” she said, “but we need to hear a presentation before the council.”
Kroart informed The Dispatch yesterday that he would be making a presentation before the Mayor and Council at the next work session later this month.