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Dumser’s on Ocean City Boardwalk remains open as legal battle rages on
Dumser’s Dairyland location on the Boardwalk will operate through the summer as Ocean City and Nathans Associates argue its future in court.
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Dumser’s Dairyland inlet location will operate through the summer as Ocean City and Nathans Associates argue its future in court in November. Wochit
As lines get longer and milkshakes begin to swirl, the early warm days of spring take shape down at Dumser’s Dairyland on the Ocean City Boardwalk.
The building’s days could be numbered, as the lengthy and highly-publicized legal battle roars on over who owns the property. With Dumser’s stuck in the middle between a feuding town and Nathans Associates, heirs to the original property owner, it’s a case as thick as the famous milkshakes that have been made at that location since the 1960s.
But for now, the ice cream is still scooped after a motion to stay allows Dumser’s to remain in operation until a ruling is handed down by the Court of Special Appeals.
A decision that could linger into 2019.
“They will have oral arguments in Annapolis, argue the briefs in November and then a written decision will be handed down around spring 2019,” said Gil Allen, attorney representing Nathans Associates, heirs to the original property owner, Nathan Rapoport.
Judge Dale Cathell ruled in July 2017 that Nathans Associates had no valid claim to the property after a previous lease with the town expired last year.
Nathans Associates leased the building to Dumser’s, a prime location for the parlor on the east side of the Boardwalk at South Division Street.
An appeal was filed by Nathans Associates, meaning the Boardwalk location could operate until a final decision is handed down. The town also announced it didn’t want to take action until a ruling was made.
“The status quo stays as is until the appeal is decided, and they granted our motion,” Allen said. “That is why we are still there and can operate all summer because the Court of Special Appeals stayed, stopped, Judge Cathell’s order until the appeal is decided.”
Guy Ayres, the Ocean City town solicitor, expects Cathell’s original decision in favor of the town to be upheld.
“(Cathell’s ruling) was correct,” Ayres said.
Previously, Ayres said the town is unaware of any permission or permits the town granted Rapoport to construct the original building, which Rapoport and then Nathans Associates rented from the town for 50 years.
In 1966, Rapoport came before the mayor and council, Ayres said previously, asking to construct a new building in the same location, which would have a commercial unit on the first floor (now Dumser’s) and an apartment for Rapoport and his wife to reside in on the second floor.
The town agreed to a 25-year contract, which was later extended another 25 years through September 2016.
In May 2016, Ayres — at the direction of the mayor and council — wrote the Rapoport heirs demanding they vacate the property by Sept. 20. The parties then went to court.
Don Timmons, owner of Dumser’s, could not be reached for comment Wednesday for this article.
Previously, in a letter to Delmarva Now in August 2017, he said that Dumser’s will never rent from the city again.
He said the success of Dumser’s is thanks to the customers who have eaten at Dumser’s through the years, however, he said that success would not be possible without the help of the Rapoport family.
“We feel a part of their family and they are certainly a part of ours,” Timmons said in his letter. “A lot of hard work has been put into this small store by Mr. Nathan first and then by Dumser’s.”
In the letter, he said he and his family decided it would be “morally wrong to turn our backs” to the Rapoport family and their support through the years.
“We stand firmly with the Rapoport family,” he said in the letter. “It would be with great regret for us to give up this location, since it has become so special to us. But if the appeal is lost we will.”
Allen, the lawyer representing the Nathan’s, expects public sympathy to swirl around the inlet location.
A petition that began last summer to save the location had over 11,000 signatures as of 2 p.m. on Wednesday, and Allen expects more people will sign the petition as the summer wanes on.
“I expect that would gear up as Memorial Day comes again,” Allen said. “Everything will be status quo. Dumser’s will be there operating as the appeal is pending, but I expect more public outcry this summer just like last summer to get Ocean City to wise up.”
On Twitter @hughesg19
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