It has only been a matter of days since Richard Nippes was welcomed aboard the Ocean View Council, through a tight election earlier this month. But now that he has the floor, he’s wasting no time in aiming for change in the town, with hopes of reviving the culture and history of Ocean View.
Ocean View’s historical committee is exactly that: historical. It has remained dormant for more than three years, and Nippes hopes to turn that around.
“I’ve noticed that there are two main parts of Ocean View,” he said, “the older part that’s been here for decades, and the newer areas that have been annexed in and developed.
“I don’t think that people are able to connect as a united type of community. We’re just a hodgepodge of smaller groups. The town needs something to bring everybody together. People in the old part of town could appreciate newer innovations and ideas that many of the people coming into the area from Baltimore and Washington are bringing.”
Though not entirely sure as to which path to take, Nippes said he has his speculations and strongly believes that something ought to be done, one way or another.
“Most communities have a festival of some sort,” he said. “I don’t know what we could come up with, but it should help people feel connected to each other and the town, and also show the history.”
Through his campaigning for the council seat, he mentioned that he was able to learn a lot from the citizens with whom he talked.
“There’s a lot of history here that I think people want to know about, and should know about. We have a culture here, and we have the park program. I’m not trying to eliminate that, but rather, add to it,” he noted.
By establishing this connection between communities, Nippes hopes to improve the participation of citizens within the town. In this past month’s election, only 45 percent of registered voters cast votes for the Ocean View council seat. Just 230 votes were received, though Ocean View has 526 registered voters — a number itself considerably lower than the town’s population, which reached 1,006 in the 2000 census.
“If you take into consideration the number of people who could have registered and didn’t,” Nippes added, “it’s kind of sad. I think we are somewhat of a dis-united community. We need something to bring us focus.”
Part of this lack of focus, he said, comes with the ambiguity of the town’s limits.
“It’s hard to tell, sometimes, what is Ocean View and what’s not,” he said. “In The Reserves, the little bit that you see developed is Ocean View. The rest will just be Sussex County.
“If you drive [eastbound from the Reserves] on Woodland, the houses on the right are not in Ocean View but the ones on the left are. When you get onto West [Avenue] Providence is not, Summerfield is not, Hunter’s Run is. It’s a nightmare. People just don’t feel part of something.”
He said that he was disappointed with the failure of the town’s former historical committee.
“They were frustrated because they had ideas, but nobody ran with them,” he said. “I hope to be the catalyst to bring the history out.”
His knowledge and studies in political science, economy and sociology would provide him with the background he needs, he said. And council members noted that there is money reserved for the regeneration of the historical committee.
Nippes said he anticipates setting aside an evening at the Town Hall where people can come and share their ideas for bringing the community together.
“I’m not a very creative person,” he said, “but I know how to facilitate and bring people together. Then I’ll just turn it loose for them. As long as you have somebody to ask them, they’ll tell you what they think. People should know that if we decide to do something, it will happen. It’s not going to fall through on deaf ears.”
He recognized that this is not something that will necessarily happen overnight.
“Nothing like this is easy,” he said, “but I’m a firm believer that if you give people the opportunity, they are so creative that it will happen. Whether something will happen this year or not, I don’t know, but you’ve got to try, and that’s what I’m here to do.”
Stay tuned to Coastal Point for continuing coverage on this matter. For more information or to get in touch with Nippes, call (302) 539-9797.