By MADDY VITALEA day after a fire swept through the arcade at Playland’s Castaway Cove in Ocean City, leaving just charred remains of the building that has stood at 10th Street and the Boardwalk since 1941, owners vow that it will be rebuilt and the amusement park will open in time for the 2021 summer season.But the iconic replica of a pirate and pirate ship that was the signature entryway to the popular amusement park for years may be gone forever.On Sunday, crowds of onlookers looked at the scorched remains of the ship and the front facade of Playland’s. Some shot video, while others snapped photos with their cellphones.An Ocean City police officer kept people from crossing a barrier to get a closer look at the aftermath of the fire.A fire marshal vehicle, fire engines and a couple of ambulances were parked between 10th and 11th Streets near the amusement park.Brian Hartley, vice president of Playland’s Castaway Cove, said in an interview Sunday that they will rebuild the arcade. However, the front entryway will be different than the pirate motif that was part of Playland’s brand.“I don’t know about the pirate or pirate ship. The issue is we would have to build it off of the frame, and I don’t know with the current height restrictions,” Hartley said of the city’s construction regulations. “Now might be a time to have ideas come to fruition that we have been thinking about for years. It would be a totally different concept.”Flames and thick black smoke rise above the Boardwalk in the early stages of the blaze.The 7:40 a.m. fire Saturday sent plumes of black smoke billowing toward the ocean. The fire raged. Ocean City firefighters, with the assistance of multiple fire agencies, got the blaze under control by about 11 a.m. There were no reported injuries and the investigation continues.But as for the building holding the arcade and offices and the tenants’ shops, everything was destroyed, Hartley said. However, the outdoor rides and amusements were basically untouched by the flames.“Pretty much the entire building is gone,” he said. “There is nothing to salvage.”He noted that while many of the arcade games can be replaced, there was one in particular that could not.“The shooting gallery had some handcrafted pieces that we just won’t get back. But a lot of the games can be replaced,” he said.An aerial photo posted on Facebook by John H. Pedrick shows the amount of destruction to Playland’s arcade building.In addition to the arcade, Dairy Queen, operated by Playland’s Castaway Cove, and tenants Hamburger Construction Company and Brume Juice were destroyed in the same building.The building has been there since 1941 and operated as Bingham’s Arcade from 1941 to 1959. In 1959, the Simpson family, the owners of Playland, purchased the building and continued the tradition of running it as an arcade, Hartley said.“There was a lot of history in that building and that is why we wanted to keep it and maintain it for its historical value,” he said.The building was disassembled from the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair and reassembled at 10th Street and the Boardwalk.Playland’s Castaway Cove is a landmark amusement park, featuring 32 rides, according to its website oceancityfun.com. Its centerpiece attraction is the Gale Force roller-coaster, which soars 125 feet in the air over the Boardwalk.Winds blew the flames and smoke toward the ocean and the businesses had the required structural firewalls between the properties, which helped to quell further damage.“The good thing is for the most part is the rides were spared,” Hartley said. “There were some parts of rides stored inside the building for the winter. So some of the rides will not have some of the vehicles this summer, but we will work through that the best we can.”The iconic pirate ship at Playland’s Castaway Cove that overlooked the Boardwalk entrance was destroyed in the fire.Hartley hopes that the fire investigation gets underway so that he and Playland’s owner, Scott Simpson, and the staff can get back to work to prepare for summer 2021.He and Simpson have no idea how the blaze started, he said.“We were out of there on Friday. Typically we work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” he said. We have no idea how the fire started. We welcome the investigation and look forward to at least getting some answers.”As for summer of 2021, Hartley said the team will be ready to offer rides and amusements to the visitors who make going to Playland’s Castaway Cove a family tradition each year.And to the residents and visitors who have been going to the park for generations, he wanted to assure the public that Playland will remain open.“We are not gone,” Hartley said. “We will do the best we can and open as quickly as we possibly can.”Onlookers get a glimpse of the fire destruction from the beach. The charred remains of the arcade at Playland’s Castaway Cove.
Sir Arthur Hobhouse’s landmark report in 1947 paved the way for the creation of England’s network of designated landscapes, with the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act passed in 1949.The Act, described at the time as a “recreational gift to Britain’s returning Second World War service men and women”, set out to recognise, conserve and enhance access to landscapes deemed to be “of national importance and quality”.These days the rugged mountains, unspoilt coastlines and vast moorlands of the nation’s 34 AONBs and 10 National Parks attract more than 260 million visitors a year from at home and abroad.Julian Glover, who will lead the review, said: The creation of National Parks almost 70 years ago changed the way we view our precious landscapes – helping us all access and enjoy our natural world. Amid a growing population, changes in technology, and a decline in certain habitats, the time is right for us to look afresh at these landscapes. We want to make sure they are not only conserved, but enhanced for the next generation. National Parks are iconic and inspirational cultural landscapes. The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan refers to their establishment as among the outstanding environmental achievements of the past 100 years. We very much welcome the announcement of the review and intend to play a full part. Our National Parks offer so much to the country. And as we approach the 70th anniversary of the founding legislation we look forward to a future where their beauty is enhanced; they are loved and accessible for everyone; and they continue to support thriving communities in these working landscapes. Environment Secretary Michael Gove has today committed to conserve and enhance England’s most cherished landscapes as a new review launches into the nation’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).Nearly 70 years after the country’s National Parks were first established, opening up the countryside and allowing more people to connect with nature, an independent panel will look at how these iconic landscapes meet our needs in the 21st century – including whether there is scope for the current network of 34 AONBs and 10 National Parks to expand.The review, led by writer Julian Glover, will also explore how access to these beloved landscapes can be improved, how those who live and work in them can be better supported, and their role in growing the rural economy.Weakening or undermining their existing protections or geographic scope will not be part of the review, which will instead focus on how designated areas can boost wildlife, support the recovery of natural habitats and connect more people with nature.Undertaking a review is one of the key commitments of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, which outlines our vision for improving the environment over a generation by connecting people with nature and helping wildlife to thrive.Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: Our protected landscapes are England’s finest gems and we owe a huge debt to past generations who had the wisdom to preserve them. The system they created has been a strength, but it faces challenges too. It is an honour to be asked to find ways to secure them for the future. I can’t wait to get started and learn from everyone who shares an interest in making England’s landscapes beautiful, diverse and successful. Chair of the National Association of AONBs, Philip Hygate, said: AONBs and National Parks are some of our most cherished sites, spanning from the Lake District, which was recently announced as a UNESCO World Heritage site, to the picturesque Cornwall AONB.They cover a quarter of England’s land and are home to over 2.3 million people – with more than 66 per cent of us living within half an hour of a National Park or AONB. They also generate over £20 billion for the rural economy, and support 75,000 jobs.BackgroundJulian GloverAssociate editor at the London Evening Standard and author of the biography Man of Iron: Thomas Telford and the Building of Britain. He has worked as leader writer and columnist at the Guardian and as a Special Adviser in Number 10 and the Department for Transport.He will be supported by an advisory panel bringing a vast breadth of experience in landscape, biodiversity, heritage, farming and rural issues.The panel will be comprised of:Lord Cameron of DillingtonCross-bench peer, farmer and landowner. As the former Chair of the Countryside Agency, he is a strong advocate for rural affairs. He is currently the chair of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 Committee and the Advisory Council for the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. He is also on the Steering Board of the Government’s Global Food Security Programme.Jim DixonChief Executive of the Peak District National Park Authority for 12 years, before stepping down in 2014. He is currently a writer on countryside issues, including for the Times, and a trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund.Sarah MukherjeeFormer BBC environment and rural affairs correspondent and previous Director of Environment at Water UK. She is currently Chief Executive of the Crop Protection Association. She is a trustee and advisory group member for several charities, supporting both environmental stewardship and education in farming.Dame Fiona ReynoldsFormerly the Director-General of the National Trust and current Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and Chair of the Green Alliance. She is the author of The Fight for Beauty (2016), a history of thought and public policy on landscapes and environment in Britain.Jake FiennesEstate Manager of the Raveningham Estate for the last 24 years, promoting nature conservation alongside arable farming. He will be joining the 25,000 acre Holkham Estate in autumn 2018 as their General Manager for Conservation. He is also a trustee and advisory group member of several organisations including the National Farmers’ Union’s Environmental Forum and the Norfolk Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.Read the full terms of reference. Chair of National Parks England, Margaret Paren, said: The world has changed significantly since the designation of Gower, the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but our fundamental requirement for beautiful, inspiring places in which to live, work, and relax is probably greater now than ever before. The National Association for AONBs is delighted to support this exciting review and will work closely with Julian Glover and the review panel to help ensure that all of England’s special landscapes are equally recognised for the value they provide to the nation, and their fundamental importance to future generations.