OCEAN CITY – J/R’s House of Ribs reached out this week to clear the air over ongoing miscommunication on the restaurant’s position of paid parking on 131st Street, especially now that the business has been threatened.

A couple of weeks ago, The Dispatch published a clarification following an article, “Council Moves Ahead With Paid Parking Areas”, in the June 7 edition.

The article reported Mayor Rick Meehan proposed a compromise because of the conflicting opinions of paid parking on 131st Street. The mayor submitted, on 131st Street between the two restaurants located there, the owner of J/R’s had requested paid parking on the street. The mayor recommended the spaces that are contiguous to J/R’s property on the north side of 131st Street be metered from 9 a.m.-midnight daily, leaving the nine parking spaces contiguous to Crab Bag, who is not in favor of paid parking, be left as free parking. The compromise was not accepted by the City Council.

The clarification stated, “J/R’s does not support parking on 131st Street. In a letter to the city, J/R’s wrote it would support parking meters being added throughout north Ocean City if ‘revenue from the new meters may alleviate new taxes.’ The support was not intended to be taken as the restaurant is in support of parking meters just being added to selected blocks, such as 131st St., as was approved by the by Mayor and City Council.”

This week J/R’s owner Jack Hubberman reached out once again after he was approached by members of the Ocean City Taxpayers for Social Justice group, which is circulating a petition against the new areas of paid parking.

“I am not going to mention any names but somebody said because I wouldn’t go along with signing the petition against the meters that they should boycott JR’s. This has really gotten out of hand,” Hubberman said.

Hubberman clarified his letter of support for paid parking on 131st Street was at the time when the city was reviewing installing paid parking on large spans of streets, not when the City Council decided to knock down the potential locations to two streets in north Ocean City, which is 131st and 146th streets

The Mayor and City Council and city staff began reviewing potential areas for paid parking in early April during the budget process to help close a budget gap in the upcoming fiscal year.

At first, staff had presented large areas of potential parking to give the big picture, such as if the city expanded paid parking on all ocean blocks that would be 3,294 additional spaces and generate $1.7 million. At that time, the City Council directed staff to return with more defined areas.

The next week staff returned and presented selected streets to install paid parking to help encourage business turnover, such as 59th, 60th and 61st streets where Fager’s Island, Hall’s Restaurant and the Tennis Center are located that would create about $25,000 to $30,000 gross per street, as well as 131st Street between The Crab Bag and J/R’s.

The 146th Street ocean block had been recommended for paid parking because the street is cut in half by the Maryland-Delaware line and the Delaware half of the street is already paid parking, among other reasons.

“I said if meters are going to be started from 131st St. to 146th streets in north Ocean City I sure hope that it will relieve some of the taxpayers with taxes,” Hubberman said. “Well everybody knows it’s impossible for two streets to alleviate any taxes. I mean that’s ridiculous. So the outcome was, they turned around and made it only two blocks and I am one of them.”