Ocean City carousel and arcade could close under tax pressure

Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2007 10:41 AM | Contributed by coasterguts

This summer could be the last for Trimper Rides, which has operated a carousel and arcades in the heart of Ocean City's boardwalk for more than a century. Rising taxes and disagreement among shareholders of the family business could force a sale of the three-block parcel, family members say. Taxes increased $387,000 last year and $914,000 this year as the assessed value of the Trimper properties rose from $24 million in 2004 to $62.9 million this year.

Read more from WTOP/Washington.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 10:45 AM
That's just great. The loss (or in this case, potential loss) of another seaside amusement park. At this rate, we'll be left with Morey's Piers on the east coast and Santa Cruz on the west in another decade.

Unless this is just a scare tactic to get the city to back off on some of the taxes?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 11:13 AM
I don't think this is a scare tatic. From $24 million to $63 mil in three years is a big chunk of change. Things in Ocean City have been sky rocketing the past several years. Their building condos like crazy. The Ocean Plaza mall is set to be razed for more condos, the 45th street village is in the process of being slowly demolished for retail/condos. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jolly Roger's sold and closed in the next 10 years. It does look like they are investing the money into the park thought. They are adding a toilet bowl slide this year. OC Pier Rides still does a pretty good business, including the bouncers.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007 11:19 AM
Just in OC this past weekend and I made the comment that more and more the old Ocean City is disappearing and being replaced with more and more exclusive condos.

If Trimper's goes, there goes another dark walk through (Pirate's Cove) and (probably) another dark ride (Haunted House on the boardwalk). Still popular attractions (with the "average Joe") but not not attracting the right type of person (the "exclusive condo types").

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 11:42 AM
^^ When I said a scare tactic, I meant it was a way for the park to bring attention to the situation so perhaps some kind of outcry from the community would convince the city to ease up on the taxes. You're absolutely right- a $39 million increase is huge... not to mention outright theft.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007 12:14 PM
I think it's going to take more than the city. I don't think the city council and mayor care about the Old Charm of the city anymore. They are perfectly content letting the people that can afford 6 bedroom condos on the ocean block (the condos that are on the ocean side but don't directly sit on the beach), drop between $600-800,000 for a condo wash a way treasures like Trimpers. Hilton has built a new sky scrapper there, Marriott is building a Courtyard along the boardwalk (old Santa Maria hotel) and it will be hard to say who builds in the old Trimpers spot.

On the other hand, perhaps Trimpers is seeing the dollar signs in building a bigger park in Worchester county. The county has recently commissoned a study for building a amusement park. I just thought about that.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 12:16 PM
I worked on OC for 2 summers, and it is a special place. Trimpers has the 'feel' of the boardwalk, with the classic rides, plus they bring the new pieces in for the teens, and.....they also had the hindsight of a changing market by removing the golf and waterslides and leasing out the shops on the inlet, and leasing space to Harrison's Harbor Watch.

If the powers to be let this happen, well, OC will be without the heart and soul of the boardwalk. I admit, when I visit in the fall, its so Coney-Island-ish to see the Red Apple open, their hotel and coffee shop, the games, and the Carousel Shop. Everything fits in together.

I don't know who wrote the article, but Trimpers is actually the largest park in Maryland, in attendance and rides. This may be an issue where the state would intervene and create a 'Boardwalk District'.

Its a shame, you have a good business, that Grandville Trimper built with his own finances, and who pays his bills, houses his employees, and then gets it right back in his face. Terrible.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 12:52 PM
My family has vacationed in Ocean City every year since the first kid arrived in 2000. We're going there again the last week of July and it will be a shame if Trimpers goes. Jolly Roger just doesn't have the same atmosphere and OC Pier is now owned by Jolly Roger, so that doesn't help at all. We'll probably still go to OC but the nightly trip to the boardwalk will never be the same without Trimpers.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007 1:55 PM
It's sad. Ocean City is on it's way to becoming an expensive place with no real value. It's tragic that fun isn't economically viable anymore. What a pathetic world we are creating.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007 2:52 PM
I completely understand the reasons for a city wanting land redeveloped with condo towers that contain units that can be sold for upwards of $500K, so there's no need to tell me that I'm out of touch with the business aspect of all this. But really... is it always necessary to rid a place of everything that made it desirable in the first place? And furthermore, does it even make sense from a business standpoint?

People flock to seaside towns for numerous reasons- the beach, the ocean, amusement, shopping, restaurants, arcades and water activities like boating, parasailing and swimming. That's likely the stuff that causes people to fall in love with the places and make them want to buy houses and condos there. But what happens when all of the little things that made those places so special disappear in the name of redevelopment? They're not the same places they once were, they're just densely-populated urban areas where people can sit around and talk about how it all used to be so great.

Sounds like fun!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 2:57 PM
I don't know if people think that far ahead. They just see a shiny new condo that looks better, at first, than those dumpy old cottages (until they buy the thing and it falls apart because it was built of plastic, duct tape, and rubber bands). Things are lost through gradual attrition and not in some massive jolt that makes people take notice..usually. The loss of Trimper's seems like it is shocking people. At least I hope it is. I love that place.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007 3:20 PM
Wow, this makes me really sad to read. As with just about everyone who has chimed in here, Trimper's has a special place in my childhood memories--if it isn't the "heart and soul" of that place, then it is about as representative of it as anything I can think of.

OC always had somewhat of a timeless quality about it to me, growing up. Sure, some of the rental shacks and motels in town are a little dumpy, but in a way that was part of their charm--there was a sense that these things had been here forever and always would be.

Sure, that's probably a lousy business model and I'm not surprised at the desire to "upgrade". But I'm looking at this purely from a consumer's standpoint...and I think it stinks.

My kids are just beginning to reach the age where they will appreciate such things, and it makes me sad to think that a lot of things that I always dreamed of showing them are disappearing quickly.
*** This post was edited by brunus76 5/1/2007 3:22:52 PM ***

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 7:13 PM
If Trimper's closes, I would be willing to bet that there would be a bit of a hit in the tourism department. I know I'd hate it.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 8:46 AM
I don' t know if it would be all that much of a hit to OC tourism.

No matter how much "enthusiasts" (both coaster and park enthusiasts) might go to shore points for attractions like Trimpers (or Moreys in Wildwood, or the (defunct) Pavillion or Family Kingdom in Myrtle Beach, etc), the main attraction for most people are still the beaches and ocean.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007 9:16 AM
That's true, but seaside towns lucky enough to have a boardwalk/amusement scene usually end up depending on those for a lot of tourism dollars. You're not just talking about an amusement park, you're talking about restaurants, shops, arcades, redemption game casinos and parking lots owned by people that depend on the amusements being there. An area takes a pretty big hit when a healthy amusement park suddenly disappears because it changes the whole dynamic of the local economy.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 10:08 AM
^ In economics terms, that's called a "multiplier effect".

I'm sure there *would* be losses for an area like OC (I grew up just across the bay from Annapolis, so I'm fairly aware of the MASSIVE number of people we're talking when discussing OC tourism).

But honestly, a place like Tulsa losing a park like Bell's is going to have MUCH more serious consequences for the local economy. Ocean City has other avenues to extract those dollars.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007 10:50 AM
I wouldn't argue that Trimper's, in itself, is a huge draw to the town. The beach is the primary draw--but for people who come there to spend time, there is no question that the largest crowds tend to congregate on that end of the boardwalk where all the rides and games are. Take those away and replace them with a couple hotels and maybe a TGIFridays or soemthing and that stretch of boardwalk becomes much less of an attraction.
Thursday, May 3, 2007 9:36 AM
There are a lot of beaches but not many boardwalk areas. Trimpers is one thing to get people to go to Ocean City vs the hundreds of other beach towns.
Thursday, May 3, 2007 2:49 PM
I understad what you're getting at, Bill. An oceanside resort town doesn't have a tourism industry that hinges on an amusement park (such as a place like Tulsa that has very little of interest to the average tourist), but I can't help but think that a lot of people go to Ocean City over other oceanside resort towns because of the amusements they have. And considering how much the city taxes the park, they know this better than anyone else.
Friday, May 4, 2007 2:59 PM
Maybe they should try raising funds by selling old tokens. ;)

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