Council unanimously passed an ordinance on first reading that would allow veterans free access to the city’s beaches.
“Veterans come home from fighting with situations that others who have never fought don’t understand,” Councilman Keith Hartzell said. “They need to be able to relax, and going to the beach is very relaxing. We need to make sure they get the proper care. They deserve it. We appreciate your service.”
The ordinance came up after a state statute updated on Jan. 17 of this year allowed for municipalities to change their fee structure so that veterans aren’t charged access to the beach.
The ordinance reads as follows: No fees shall be charged to or collected from persons who have served in any of the Armed Forces of the United States and who were discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable and who have either served at least 90 days in active duty or have been discharged or released from active duty by reason of a service-incurred injury or disability.
The Director of Financial Management will keep a list of all those eligible for the exemption and establish the rules and regulations to comply with the state as to who would receive the extension.
“I’ve seen folks injured in battle and I’ve seen their tenacity,” said Councilman Peter Guinosso, a veteran. “I’ve seen people with no arms or legs in a pool swimming and that’s amazing to me and I support this.”
Council President Anthony Wilson apologized to members of the American Legion and the VFW for not consulting them prior to introducing the ordinance.
“We knew we needed to get this out quickly so we could get the tags made up,” Wilson said. “I didn’t have the chance to speak to the American Legion or the VFW. Normally I do, but we wanted to make sure this was available for the season.”
The tags would be available where beach tags are sold, including:
* The Aquatic and Fitness Center, 1735 Simpson Avenue;
* Roy Gillian Welcome Center on the Route 52 Causeway;
* The Harry S. Knight Building, 115 12th Street;
* City Hall at 861 Asbury Avenue; and
* Ocean City Music Pier Information Center, Moorlyn Terrace and Boardwalk.
Second reading and the public hearing on the ordinance will take place at the April 24 meeting.