Ocean City Today

Save Dumser’s movement reaches council

Petition with thousands of signatures hand-delivered to city officials on Tuesday
By Katie Tabeling | Sep 07, 2017
Photo by: Katie Tabeling

The effort to prevent the exit of Dumser’s Dairyland from its Boardwalk location came to City Hall this week, as area resident Vicki Magin delivered hundreds of pages of a petition calling for the establishment’s preservation to the mayor and City Council during Tuesday’s session.

Magin launched the petition on change.org on Aug. 18, shortly after news broke that the city would not renew a 25-year agreement with Nathans Associates, heirs to the property’s original occupant, Nathan Rapoport.

By Tuesday night, the petition bore 10,200 signatures. Magin told the council that public support for the iconic ice cream stand continues to grow.

“I am a small link in chain in public support to save this property for the family that has operated it for 105 years and the tenant that occupied it for 40 years,” she said. “One of the common threads in the public outcry … is that they all have been to Ocean City at one time or another for work or play. They all brought their families and spent their hard-earned vacation dollars.”

Nathan Rapoport renovated the building — one of the few on the ocean side of the Boardwalk — in 1966 as part of an agreement with Ocean City. The agreement expired in 2016, and city officials told the tenant and Dumser’s owner Don Timmons he would have to vacate the property.

Worcester County Circuit Court Judge Dale Cathell ruled that Dumser’s would close on Oct. 31, and the property would be demolished by Dec. 31 unless a new agreement is brokered.

Rapoport’s granddaughter Mona Strauss filed an appeal in the case on Aug. 30.

In the meantime, Magin implored the council to read through the petition and understand the people’s concerns.

“Several Ocean City locals, many I’ve known since first grade, are looking to this body of elected officials to listen to their voices … and follow their wishes that this unwarranted action be withdrawn,” she said.

Bernie Cook, daughter of local ice cream pioneer Gladys Dumser, also spoke during public comment. She said her month opened the stand “the town wants to take down or take over” in 1972, and that it inspired customers to drive hundreds of miles to get a cone. In turn, Dumser would scoop ice cream until midnight, even in hurricane weather because she “didn’t want to disappoint the customers.”

“Ocean City business people are like a family to me and we’ve supported each other every time,” Cook said. “So what’s happening to that family spirit? Let’s keep it alive and don’t destroy our history.”

The council was relatively silent after both Cook and Magin spoke. Councilman Wayne Hartman thanked the women for coming, but explained that he was legally gagged on the matter.

“I’d love to comment on what was said, but since it’s an open legal matter, it’s not something we should do,” Hartman said. “Thank you for your passion for Ocean City.”

While the fate of the building is uncertain, Timmons made it clear that he will not be a tenant of Ocean City earlier this month in a letter to the editor. He wrote that his success would not be possible without the Rapoport family.

“We feel a part of their family and they are certainly a part of ours,” he said in the letter. “A lot of hard work has been put into this small store by Mr. Nathan first and then by Dumser’s. It would be with great regret for us to give up this location, since it has become so special to us. But if the appeal is lost, we will.”

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