Boardwalk merchants tell council they want hardwood for new decking

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OCEAN CITY — Several boardwalk merchants came before City Council at its July 26 meeting to express their concern over the use of southern pine for the boardwalk decking.

Piggybacking on an announcement from city business administrator Mike Dattilo at the July 12 meeting that the administration is looking at other options besides pine for the boardwalk reconstruction project, the business owners said hardwood was the best option.

John Stauffer, president of Johnson’s Popcorn, said he had researched what he called an environmentally friendly hardwood called greenheart wood, which comes from Guyana in South America. Stauffer said this material is renewable and sustainable, and that it would be viewed favorably by many who opposed the use of endangered hardwood.

Stauffer commended the administration for maintaining the boardwalk, but noted that over the last five years, there have been 22 claims for trips and falls on the boardwalk.

“The most important reason for using the tropical hardwood is safety,” he said.

The second, he said, is economics.

Stauffer said that engineering reports over the last few years agree that hardwood is the best for decking the boardwalk.

Stauffer provided a packet of information and a sample of the greenheart wood to council for their review. He suggested that the use of hardwood be put on the ballot so the residents can decide what should be used.

A second resident also urged the council to use hardwood.

“Please deck the boardwalk with hardwood,” he said.

Wes Kazmarck, president of the Boardwalk Merchants Association, said he would like to back up Stauffer’s comments. He and his family own and operate the Surf Mall.

“The pine is just awful on almost every level,” he said.

Another resident said he was against the use of rainforest wood.

“We’ve had this town divided probably for 10 years on pine versus rainforest wood,” he said. “I do not think this is the time to bring it up again.”

“Please let's put an end to this talk on hardwood, pine. It’s rainforest wood,” he said.

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