Cumberland Times-News

April 17, 2013

Beach parking

Ocean City may add meters to generate revenue


Cumberland Times-News

— A visit to Ocean City could get more expensive — at least for people who park on city streets — if a proposal to add more parking meters is approved by the resort’s leaders.

Delmarvanow.com, an online news outlet, reports that Ocean City officials are considering a resort-wide plan that could generate more than $2 million in parking meter revenue.

Ocean City draws visitors from throughout Maryland and from nearby states. Like virtually any summer resort area, it has become increasingly more expensive to vacation there. Room rates continue to escalate, as do the costs of food, entertainment and gasoline.

The plan to expand parking meters is meeting with some opposition.

“It’s expensive enough to vacation in Ocean City,” Austin Purnell, general manager of the Econo Lodge Oceanblock at 145th Street, told Delmarvanow.com. “The town’s in debt, and it’s not the consumers’ fault. It should not be passed along to them. I’m not for it. I understand the town needs to get additional revenue from somewhere, but I don’t know that’s the best place.” Purnell, said he was sharing his own opinion and did not speak on behalf of the hotel. He said adding new meters uptown would not impact his guests much because the hotel has ample on-site parking. However, the hotel’s popular pool bar would be affected, because many patrons expect free parking spots at 145th and 146th streets.

At a minimum, the plan calls for installing 888 paid parking spaces on the ocean block between Coastal Highway and the beach, from 10th Street to 27th Street. Revenue from that would be an estimated $400,000 a year.

But another proposal calls for putting parking spots along the entirety of the ocean block, from 10th Street to the Delaware line at 146th Street, for a total of $1.7 million in net revenue. Another 1,200 spaces could go in commercially-zoned areas along the bay side, yielding $500,000.

Mayor Rick Meehan said it may be prudent not to “take that giant leap all at once,” and first add paid parking to streets that would offer the least amount of resistance among residents and tourists.­

That’s what Ocean City officials hope for — a minimum amount of resistance. Given the mayor’s comment, it looks pretty sure that the city will implement the plan in phases — and hope tourists and residents grit their teeth, but bear one more increased expense.

For some folks, more parking meters may be just enough reason to choose a vacation spot elsewhere.