A lot of practical concerns remain at this early stage, but it’s exciting to think of the concept of a wind farm off Ocean City.
Sure, there are naysayers who worry over the visual blight 200 wind turbines may cause on the horizon, but that’s short sighted. At this early point in the process, the long-term benefit potential for substantial alternative energy resources should far outweigh that type of shallow concerns. There were many interesting points raised at last week’s public meeting, but one I thought regarding economic development deserves another look
In election years, economic development and the need to create jobs and keep young people in the area are often discussed. Many candidates say we need to diversify the local economy to provide employment for people outside the traditional fields of tourism, agriculture, government, law enforcement and health. They are valid points, but most officials have no idea how to spur economic development. They just realize it’s needed. Again, it’s preliminary, but this wind farm proposal provides some optimism on the subject. Consider what NRG Bluewater Wind’s Dave Blazer estimated would be needed for the massive offshore project as far as employment.
“It will take 500 people to build the offshore wind park,” Blazer said. “It’s about a $1.6 billion investment. After it is built, there will be 60-80 and maybe even 100 maintenance jobs for the lifetime of the contract. The construction jobs will be two to three years. There could be 1,000-6,000 jobs created from indirect economic development and job creation.”
Boardwalk displays and signage have always been a concern in Ocean City, and the answer may lie in hiring a person to monitor the situation on a full-time basis The fact remains violators take advantage of the situation.
Last Friday afternoon, I counted three sandwich-style signs on the Boardwalk on street ends advertising businesses off the boards. That’s not right and a clear violation of Boardwalk sign laws. The problem is there are adequate laws on the books to address these concerns but there’s no enforcement. While I’m being a little cranky, another problem I found was the music emanating from the retail stores. Clearly, the music was a violation of the town’s noise code, but nothing was being done about it.
What may be happening, and it seems like the Boardwalk Development Association realizes this, is merchants understand there will be no enforcement after 5 p.m. because city employees are gone for the day. Clearly, some are taking advantage. The problems seem to be properly identified. It’s the answers that have proven difficult to come by.
The room and food tax revenue figures for August were encouraging for Ocean City, as room tax spiked 5 percent from last August and food tax climbed 9 percent. Year to date, room tax is up 6 percent through August.