Ocean City Today

Gehrig concerned over Cruisin’ event terms

Discussion centers around previously signed memo of understanding implications
By Greg Ellison | Dec 21, 2017
Source: File Photo Councilman John Gehrig turned a post-event review for this years Endless Summer Cruisin’ into a prolonged discussion regarding a memo of understanding with event promoters during the council meeting on Monday.

(Dec. 22, 2017) Ocean City Councilman John Gehrig turned a post-event review of October’s Endless Summer Cruisin’ event into a discussion regarding a memo of understanding with event promoters at Monday’s City Council meeting.

Bob Rothermel of TEAM Productions, which co-produced the four-day car rally, presented details and financials from the fall car cruise’s 20th edition.

“From our perspective, everything went well from the convention center, where we lease, to the inlet parking lot, where we lease,” he said.

The weather was ideal for the 2,310 registered cars, Rothermel said. Highlights included a concert at the Performing Arts Center by a Highwayman tribute band, multiple car parades and a LED light show downtown.

In addition to paying the town more than $51,000 in direct fees, Rothermel said charitable organizations also received financial support.

“We donated money to the American Red Cross because of the hurricane issues, and also the American Cancer Society,” he said.

Under the terms of a memo of understanding signed three years ago between the show’s promoters and the city, the promoters must present a review to the council shortly after the event.

After reviewing the MOU, Gehrig asked if that evening’s presentation satisfied the promoters’ requirement for execution of services included in the current agreement.

“I just want to confirm the promoter has met terms of MOU, and per this clause that there’s an automatic one-year extension,” he said.

While noting the council is simply honoring an existing agreement, Gehrig moved to confirm the event is on track for next year.

His motion was that “it’s the will of the City Council that we acknowledge the promoter has met the terms of MOU and they can proceed with the planning of the event in 2018.”

During his presentation, Rothermel said hundreds of cars have already registered for the 21st annual event scheduled for Oct. 2018.

To permit discussion on Gehrig’s suggestion, Councilman Matt James seconded the motion.

Councilman Dennis Dare sought clarification on Gehrig’s motion.

“That wasn’t on the agenda,” he said. “We already voted on spring 2018.”

Gehrig said his intention was to confirm terms were met, as short of a material breach of the agreement by the promoter, the terminating party would be liable for expenses.

“I’d rather not have us exposed to any more out-of-pocket costs because the promotion of the event is underway,” he said. “Given the recent events, I want the promoter, I want all of us, to know what our will is.”

For his part, Dare advocated a wait-and-see approach.

“My will is to have an acceptable event in the spring and then consider having additional events,” he said.

Gehrig reiterated the agreement language preempted such a decision.

“I’m just confirming what we’ve already done,” he said. “Here’s a copy.”

Dare again noted the agreement wasn’t included as part of that evening’s agenda.

“I think it’s out of order to even have a motion,” he said. “I didn’t review it with this motion in mind.”

Momentarily changing the focus, Councilman Wayne Hartman inquired about potentially changing the fee structures paid by the event organizers.

“From my understanding of this, the fees are as old as the event,” he said.

Rothermel said associated charges paid to the town have been established a bit more recently.

“They’re not as old as the event, but at least for this MOU period,” he said.

Hartman elected to abstain from voting on Gehrig’s motion until receiving financial details of the fees paid.

Councilwoman Mary Knight, who also opted to abstain from voting, took Hartman’s sentiment a step further.

“I would also like to see the additional costs for police so that we have the total package,” she said. “I, for one, do like to have the item on the agenda so I can study it personally.”

James then had second thoughts on his second and decided the motion was unnecessary.

“I think Mr. Rothermel recognized a desire from the community to make the event more acceptable for our residents that live here,” he said. “I think the event is only going to get better, but for the specific motion I’m not sure it needs to be made.”

Mayor Rick Meehan said it was important to acknowledge the promoters report meets the terms of the agreement to eliminate any subsequent confusion and asked City Solicitor Guy Ayres if a motion was needed.

“I don’t think it requires … a motion because I think it speaks for itself,” Ayres said.

Gehrig, while agreeing the motion was likely unnecessary, repeated the financial liability concerns.

“I mean we have to be prepared with what the facts are here,” he said. “If we’re thinking about terminating, we’re just exposing ourselves to more and more cost.”

Dare again noted making decisions on future Cruisin’ events was not included in the meeting agenda.

“I didn’t review the agreement in preparation for this since we are just receiving a report,” he said.

For his part, Gehrig said reviewing the MOU seemed vital prior to receiving the event wrap.

“I can’t help you guys prepare,” he said.

Siding with Dare, Martin said councilmembers do not typically memorize precise details of previous agreements.

“Councilman Gehrig, in my opinion, went off the agenda and started bringing in an MOU that was written three and a half years ago,” he said. “You had it in front of you studying it, you were prepared for this meeting, I don’t believe anyone else was.”

Circling back to Gehrig’s comment about ending the Cruisin’ events, James clarified what was previously debated.

“I don’t think we’ve discussed terminating anything,” he said. “If [Rothermel’s] met his obligation. there’s been no discussion up here to not honor our obligation.”

James also noted the recently formed Motor Events Task Force held its first meeting last Thursday and would bring suggestions to the council early next year.

“If you’re referring to the issues that have been brought to our attention, like I said before, Mr. Rothermel came with some ideas to the meeting we had last week,” he said. “I think as a group, and as a community, we’ll work together to make the event(s) better.”


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