By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(July 11, 2019) Maryland State Highway Administration officials will present information on the proposed Ocean Parkway roundabout in a different fashion tonight when it convenes an informal public meeting from 6-8 p.m. in the Assateague Room of the Ocean Pines Community Center on 235 Ocean Parkway.
Rather than employing the usual single focal point of informational meetings, the SHA will have stations arranged throughout room where residents can go to get specific answers about
Bob Rager, SHA district community liaison, will lead the presentation.
“The informal walk-through meeting allows us to engage citizens individually, but also offers the flexibility to bring people together at a station around common interests and concerns if the need arises,” Rager said.
“By maintaining an informal, walkthrough atmosphere, we can do this several times throughout the evening as needed and ensure that everyone gets heard. This format also eliminates concerns audience members often have regarding visibility of any screen presentation and difficulty understanding speakers due to room noise or soft voices.”
“This meeting is just one opportunity for engagement,” he continued. “We’ll certainly continue the conversation and look to engage Ocean Pines residents throughout this process.”
Rager also said recent roadwork on Route 589 and Ocean Parkway is “routine survey work related to the roundabout concept.” It is unclear if further work will be required, in the near term.
However, Ocean Pines Board of Directors Vice President Steve Tuttle believes work on the traffic circle will proceed regardless.
“They have proceeded to continue to do testing and a lot of survey work out in the North Gate area,” Tuttle said. “My guess is, without any formal information, is that they are planning to proceed.”
Tuttle also expressed his concerns about the SHA’s informal presentation stance, and had contacted the organization twice about having a sit-down meeting.
“I encouraged them on two different occasions to consider a different format for the meeting,” Tuttle said. “I asked if they wanted chairs, and they said, ‘No … only [some] chairs in case someone’s tired and they need to sit down.’ The way they are planning to run it, there will not be a formal time or question-and-answer like we have here when we have public comments.”
Tuttle said he doesn’t believe this approach will give residents the opportunity to be heard as well as they would be in a more structured setting.
“This is their meeting and they are running it the way they want to run it,” he continued. “I will be [there] to see how it goes.”
Tuttle also believes that the roundabout is unpopular with most residents.
“As a board member, I have to represent my constituents,” Tuttle said. “I have been receiving a lot of emails from residents about it and I’ve been forwarding them to the State Highway Administration to try to inform them of the concerns … it still remains a high percentage of Ocean Pines residents are opposed to the traffic circle.”