May 2024 Ocean Pines Progress

Page 1

Racquet sports committee nixed

The Racquet Sports Advisory Committee is no more. In a 6-1 vote, with only Steve Jacobs opposed, the Board of Directors voted to repeal the authorizing Resolution C-14, Racquet Sports Committee, during its April 20 monthly meeting.

OPA President Rick Farr presented the motion to eliminate the RSAC in reaction to comments made by a committee member at the Board’s March meeting.

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Progress hires new distributors

New distributors have taken over home delivery of the Ocean Pines Progress this month. As always, our distributors will try to determine which homes are occupied and will not “throw” a publication into a driveway unless reasonably sure the home is currently occupied.

To make a “do drop” request if you’ve been missed or if you prefer not to receive driveway delivery, please email us at oceanpinesprogress@gmail. com.

Board approves contract for hybrid paper ballot and electronic voting

Hires Pittsburgh firm MK Election Services to handle this summer’s Board of Directors election

The Board of Directors approved a contract with a new vendor that offers an observable ballot count for this summer’s Ocean Pines Association election, which will be conducted using both electronic voting and paper ballots.

The remote viewing of the counting of paper ballots was done as a way of demonstrating transparency to the membership. It won’t be available for votes that are cast electronically.

During an April 24 special meeting, the Board voted 6-1, with Director Steve Jacobs opposed, to award the contract to MK Election Services out of Pittsburgh, PA.

Tom Piatti, Elections Committee chairman, present-

ed the recommendation to contract with MK Election Services for $26,335, which includes the cost of an observable count. He said the company’s proposal was very detailed and it offered the observable count as part of its base price.

“I think they’re a good company, and they’re on the East Coast,” Piatti said.

The committee was told that if the OPA opted out of the observable count option for paper ballots, there would be no reduction in the $26,335 contract price.

In presenting the contract for approval, OPA President Rick Farr said “by approving the recommendation by the Election Committee, it will provide a level of confidence to all homeowners that voting procedures, when

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2 Ocean Pines PROGRESS May 2024

Hybrid voting

From Page 1

followed, can provide accurate and verifiable tabulations for each candidate and that every vote is properly counted and tabulated.”

Jacobs, however, argued that the increased cost for an observable count isn’t worth it since only 20 to 25 people viewed the ballot count last year, and that was for adjudication of problem ballots rejected by scanners.

Jacobs said the OPA could save a lot of money by eliminating it. He said he doesn’t get a sense from the community that there are a lot of members interested in watching the ballot count either in person or online.

“It doesn’t seem to be justification for spending the extra money,” he said.

Even though it comes at an increased cost, other directors said it is important to provide the observable count to ensure members the transparency they keep asking for from the Board.

Director Stuart Lakernick agreed that $6,000 to $7,000 for a Zoom call is expensive. However, he pointed out that “people are always railing on us” to be more transparent. So he supported keeping the observable count. “I think it’s worth the investment,” he said.

Director Elaine Brady agreed with Lakernick but added that some members will be upset with

the Board if they do it and others will if they don’t provide for an observable count.

OPA President Rick Farr told the Progress before the meeting that he hopes after one election cycle, it will become apparent that an observable count isn’t really needed.

“But for this year, a transition demonstrating an extra layer of transparency is justified,” he said.

Jacobs pointed out that the Elections Committee originally recommended a different vendor that did not offer the observable count, but then switched its endorsement to MK in order to include that process. He asked about the possibility of having the recommended vendor remove the observable count from their proposal in order to reduce the contract amount and save members some money.

Piatti acknowledged that much of the difference between vendor proposals is due to the observable count process, which will cost the OPA $5,000 to $6,000. However, he said MK will not remove the observable count from its base $26,335 proposal; it’s part of it whether or not the OPA chooses to use it.

Even at slightly more than $26,000, the approved vendor will cost the OPA much less than the $35,000 budgeted for the printing, mailing and counting of ballots this year.

When Jacobs mentioned that last year’s observ-

able count was “flawed,” Piatti quickly jumped in to defend it.

Piatti said the process used in 2023 was not flawed at all. Ballots were run through the system and a PDF generated. There were 18 questionable ballots that were improperly marked and the Elections Committee went through adjudication to determine the eligibility of each ballot, he said.

Jacobs then asked if the observable count included in the proposal is the process the committee goes through on questionable ballots.

Piatti said no, that adjudication is just part of the observable count process. He told the Progress that the vendor will set up a camera in the counting room to record the process, with simultaneous transmittal using Zoom.

Last year there were 2,967 paper ballots cast that did not require Elections Committee review. For 2024, he hopes that number will drop as more people use electronic voting.

MK Election Services will conduct the hybrid election with all voters having the opportunity to vote online or on paper and everyone receiving the same ballot. It will email credentials and mail paper ballots to eligible voters in June with ballots due back by Aug. 6. Paper ballot counting on Aug. 8 will take place at the offices of the MK Elections in Pittsburgh.

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Hybrid voting

From Page 3

“Every lot will get an envelope and you can either vote electronically or you can send it in manually,” Piatti said.

The company will lay out the ballot and accompanying materials to meet its technical standards. Printing will be done by subcontractor Allegheny Commercial Printing and mailing services will be handled by RJW Hired Hands.

The counting of paper ballots and merging these results with the ballots cast on-line will be handled in-house by MK Elections.

Paper ballots will include login information should a voter prefer to decide to vote online. The ballot security includes a barcode containing information known only to MK Elections that will appear in the ballot mailing but not on the ballot, and credentials for login to a secure online system will be printed next to that barcode.

MK Election Services will design a web version of the ballot, including greeting page, login, and then the ballot page itself for members to use when casting their ballots electronically and will send several email blasts encouraging people to vote.

While the election is open, the company will receive, track and report on any undeliverable mailed ballots returned, and, where a new address is supplied it will mail a new ballot to the member. Electronic voters will be able to send

queries about the voting system by email and technical support will be provided within 24 hours. If an email address is on file for voters, they will receive an acknowledgment of receipt of their ballot whether it is cast electronically or by paper ballot.

Members can witness the ballot count over Zoom and both the paper copies of the ballots and the computer screens used will be viewable by all parties allowed in the room.

The hybrid ballot count consists of downloading of the online voter list, authentication and assurance of no duplicate voting, an optical scan and preliminary report, and auditing and a certified report. Testing protocols are followed to demonstrate that the software and equipment have functioned properly and provided accurate tallies.

The proposal says the audit “can be done in front of representatives of the [OPA], or, by projection on the computer screen, in front of a whole room of witnesses.”

The detail and extent of an audit of election results is determined by the accuracy of the initial count and the closeness of the election. Ultimately, audits of as few as 50 ballots, or as many as 100 percent of all ballots cast, can be conducted, and the final determination of the depth of the audit is made by the customer, in this case the OPA.

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storage boxes and sealed, and sent to the OPA to be opened only in the case of a formal challenge and request of a recount.

Jacobs asked Piatti if he is satisfied that the contactor has the ability to create and follow an audit to show who voted electronically.

Piatti said yes and added that the company can track when and what method each voter uses to vote.

It won’t be able to verify who cast a ballot for a particular candidate, however.

He said the Elections Committee is making an effort to notify all property owners earlier this year that the election is coming up, including reaching out to those whose voting rights have been suspended for non-payment of dues or property violations. He said the committee is informing those ineligible to vote, which is about 800 owners currenly, that they have to address the issue if they want to vote in the election.

Last year, Piatti said 128 owners became eligible after they were notified of their ineligibility and rectified the issue that was keeping them from voting.

Changes to Resolution M-06, Elections and Referendum Procedures, were also approved by the Board during the special meeting. The revisions clarify OPA election and referendum procedures including how duplicate ballots are handled, delegation of ballot counting, and what happens if the system fails to tabulate the ballots.

4 Ocean Pines PROGRESS May 2024 To Page 6

Hybrid voting

From Page 4

Director John Latham presented the changes for second reading and approval. He said the changes are being requested by the Elections Committee to accurately articulate election and referendum procedures included in attachments to Resolution M-06.

Heavner praised the updated resolution, saying it was clear and easy to follow the timeline for when various election activities would occur.

“That’s a big deal,” he said.

One of the changes to Attachment A of Resolution M-06 states that if an owner submits a paper ballot and also votes online, only the first-received ballot will be counted. A member wanting to vote twice will not be successful.

At the time designated as the deadline for return of ballots, the contractor conducting the election will make a final collection of ballot envelopes and prepare all ballots for counting instead of returning them to the committee.

The OPA will continue to maintain a ballot drop box at the police department for local members to return their ballots.

Those ballot envelopes will be collected and express mailed to the contractor.

The changes state if a hand-count of ballots is performed, the committee will ensure that the ballot counting may be observed by any association member, either in person, remotely, or both.

Peck, Clifford oppose contract award to Pittsbugh vendor

Ask Board to reopen process to include local firm

Before the Board of Directors began discussing the merits of the MK Elections Services proposal at an April 24 special meeting, former Ocean Pines Association Director Amy Peck critiqued the process used by the committee.

Joining in the dissent during Public Comments was Sherrie Clifford, founder of the

Although association members may witness the counting process remotely, they will not be privy to vote totals during the counting process nor engage in any way with the ballot counting process, Election Committee, consultants, or association staff.

The ballot counting will be conducted in a room of sufficient size to accommodate the process and onsite or remote viewing of the process for association members.

The changes also specify that if the tabulating

Residents Oversight Community social media in Ocean Pines.

Peck said that decisions were made in private meetings, contrary to OPA governing documents that require advisory committee meetings to be open to OPA members, with agendas and meeting minutes posted.

She said that she was told that the Elections Committee is both advisory and opera-

To Page 9

and reporting system fails or a re-count is required, a manual count will be performed under the direction of the Election Committee chairperson. Ballots ultimately rejected by the system will also be manually counted.

Piatti told the Progress that an important change to M-06 makes an observable count of paper ballots optional, so that in future years, especially as more and more people migrate to on-line voting, there will be less need for an observable count.

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Opposition to contract

From Page 6 tional, but because it’s operational it doesn’t have to follow rules that apply to advisory committees.

Peck said there is no governing document that turns the Elections Committee into one with operational functions that can be closed to the membership.

But so it has become, with the apparent blessing of the current Board majority. Farr and other directors, Jeff Heavner and John Latham, praised the committee’s efforts, which included sending out bid invitations and vetting vendors who submitted proposals, and then making a recommendation to the Board on which vendor to hire.

Peck said OPA governing documents specify that the Elections Committee, not the Board, decides on an elections vendor, with the general manager and OPA president signing the contract. She criticized the fact that two directors running for reelection this summer, Farr and Heavner, voted on the proposal to hire an election vendor.

Without providing detail, she contended that the Board was going against the recommendation of the Elections Committee in choosing MK Election Services, but Piatti, in his comments during the special meeting, made no mention of his committee preferring another option.

She objected to the fact that the posted supporting materials for the special meeting only the

MK proposal was included.

She also criticized the decision to go with an observable count that can be accomplished only by “an expensive Zoom” call, rather than in-person monitoring that can only be done with a local vendor.

Sherrie Clifford, founder of the Residents Oversight Community, followed up on that theme, asking the Board to reconsider the hiring of MK Election Services and reopen the process to allow Ace Printing and Mailing of Berlin to submit a proposal.

She said the justification for not asking Ace Printing to submit a bid was a declared intention by the committee to hire a company “that could it do it all.”

She said that MK Election Services uses separate sub-contractors to handle printing and mailing, proving that no company can handle every aspect of an election.

Depending on the company, different important functions are contracted out. Last year, the Seattle, Washington, area vendor that handled the OPA election sub-contracted out printing and mailing.

The subcontractor’s delay in sending out ballots caused a two-week delay in the counting of ballots in the 2023 election.

In the case of Ace Printing and Mailing, she said it appears that Piatti and the committee were referring to the fact that the company would

use Vote HOA Now for on-line voting, a company she said was used with good results in the 2022 Board election.

Piatti during the meeting explained the reason for excluding Ace Printing from this year’s contract process.

He said that the 2022 election process that included Vote HOA Now required a lot of complex interactions between Ace Printing and the on-line vendor, something this year’s Elections Committee wanted to avoid.

“Doing it all” according to the committee now seems to be a description of companies that can handle counting of paper ballots and processing of e-votes in one shop.

Sub-contracting out printing and mailing services doesn’t appear to be a concern to the committee, as it was done last year and appears to be part of the MK Election Services contract this year as well.

No director responded during the meeting to the criticisms lobbed their way by Peck and Clifford, who collaborate on ROC media projects and are frequent critics of the Board.

But Farr in a text message to the Progress said that he was “not sure if they realize that they make themselves look like scorned children” when they oppose Board initiatives. “They rail against everything this Board does, and it really makes them look bad. That’s not me saying it. It’s the community.”

May 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 9 OCEAN PINES

Board abolishes racquet sports committee

The Racquet Sports Advisory Committee is no more. In a 6-1 vote, with only Steve Jacobs opposed, the Board of Directors voted to repeal the authorizing Resolution C-14, Racquet Sports Committee, in its entirety during its April 20 monthly meeting.

“I feel that the RSAC has abandoned its mission,” Director Jeff Heavner said in announcing his support for the motion.

Director Stuart Lakernick agreed, saying “This is a group that has gone rogue.”

Jacobs acknowledged that the committee has made some serious mistakes and owes General Manager John Viola an apology.

But, he said, “This is a committee that needs better guidance. This is not a committee that needs to be eliminated.”

OPA President Rick Farr presented the motion to eliminate the RSAC after one of the committee’s members, RSAC member Suzanne Russell, criticized the Board and staff during Public Comments at the March Board meeting.

She made allegations that ranged from the possibility of mold in the racquet sports building to the Board ignoring the need for a new building

in favor of renovations.

The allegations of possible mold in particular had directors upset

Background for Farr’s motion said “Given the operational changes at the Racquet Sports center, including the hiring of a director of racquet sports, all associated activities and future planning will be handled by the operations staff.

“Removing the advisory committee from the operational aspects of racquet sports such as running the pro shop and organizing instructional classes also serves to avoid any potential confusion on the appropriate source for all information regarding the racquet center.”

Nonetheless, it was clear that Russell’s comments during the March Board meeting, together with what the directors felt was the committee’s agreement with Russell’s viewpoints, were the prime motivators for the Board majority’s decision to eliminate the committee.

Jacobs said he was opposed to the motion to repeal the authorizing resolution for RSAC, and joked, “please don’t be surprised.”

He said the committee has definitely made some mistakes but that doesn’t mean it needs to

be eliminated.

“What happened in April they screwed up no question about it. But these people are volunteers,” he said. “Committee members may be guilty of being overly enthusiastic at best but that is not a justification for eliminating the committee,” he said.

Jacobs argued that the functions of RSAC as outlined in Resolution C-14 are all advisory. The Board always has the final say on issues related to the racquet sports operations.

“It has nothing to do with what’s in the resolution; it’s because they screwed up,” he said of the push to eliminate the committee.

He said the committee can “get straightened out and back on the beam.”

Still, he said, it’s “disappointing that even now committee members are backing and filling” and alleging that Russell’s comments were her personal opinion and not that of the RSAC.

“This was planned,” he said of Russell’s comments.

Jacobs said the committee owes Viola and his staff a formal apology for what transpired over the

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Jacobs dissents, but agrees it went too far

Committee abolished

From Page 11

last two months. “John and his staff did nothing wrong,” he said, adding “The only people who screwed up was the committee.”

Since it’s been abolished, it seems unlikely that former committee members will issue an aplogy.

Director Stuart Lakernick also said he struggled with whether or not to support the motion to eliminate the committee because of how

he was targeted by a prior Board and kept from joining a committee. However, this motion isn’t targeting an individual, he said.

Lakernick pointed out that the RSAC’s actions in April cost the OPA a significant amount of money. While the claim of mold in the racquet sports building was not supported after an extensive investigation, it cost the association in excess of $10,000 to prove it.

Additionally, the OPA held a $100 per plate volunteer appreciation

dinner and 12 RSAC members sent RSVPs but none of them showed up, costing the OPA another $1,200.

“For the month of April this committee cost us $11,200.” That equates to about $14 assessment dollars to disprove the mold claim and due to “the vindictiveness of people not showing up,” Lakernick said.

this particular committee is no longer helpful to the Board.

He said a “racquet sports manifesto,” Russell’s comments read during the March 24 during Public Comments segment of the Board meeting, contained inaccurate information that was very alarming, alarming at many levels,” he said.

Heavner said he struggled with the proposal to disband the RSAC because he believes in the value of an advisory function, but added that

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He cited committee leadership as an issue and said RSAC was very aware of content of this manifesto and remained silent.

He said the comments supported the cause of a few that are far left from center, but the RSAC leadership didn’t speak up.

“This silence is complacency. This silence is passive agreement. This silence, in this case, is dereliction of duty. A complete lack of leadership,” he said.

Heavner said the committee’s actions forced the general manager, supported by the Board, to take action to protect the association. He thanked Viola for his actions to swiftly address the issues.

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“This manifesto from the fringe tried to change the narrative of an approved racquet sports center building,” he said.

He added the OPA has a first class racquet sports center and the Board continues to prioritize the improvement of amenities.

The RSAC committee initially welcomed the planned renovations to the racquet sports center that includes new bathrooms, check-in area, merchandise space, meeting space, and a building that does not leak when it rains.

Heavner said it is a building that supports the needs of the racquet sports community and he personally confirmed this over the last two weeks by speaking with many members.

“This manifesto promoted the will of a few,” he said, and that provoked the motion to do away with the RSAC. “This committee has abandoned us.”

Director Monica Rakowski, who also supported of the motion, said within a month’s time the committee went from being very excited to hear all the details about the planned renovations to the racquet center to calling for a halt to the planning.

Instead, it started pushing for a brand new building, after the Board had already decided to go with renovation.

“What happened?” she asked, adding the committee had disregarded the mission to advise the Board.

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Public commentators protest elimination of racquet committee

Contend that reasons given don’t hold up to scrutiny

Atrio of property owners berated the Board of Directors for pushing forward with a motion to repeal Resolution C-14, which authorizes the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee, during the Public Comments segment of the April 20 month Board meeting.

The speakers argued that the Board should be encouraging volunteers to serve on the committees instead of shutting down RSAC because they are upset with some of its members.

Darryl Noble said he initially didn’t think eliminating the committee was a bad idea, until he read the Board’s justification for doing so. The resolution defines the purpose of the committee, and because of the way RSAC is currently structured he understands that the committee may no longer really be needed.

However, that’s not the reason for the motion to get rid of RSAC, Noble said. “The motion is a fairy tale,” he said.

The background for the motion cited in the Board packet stated, “Given the operational changes at the Racquet Sports center, including the hir-

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Dissenting voices

From Page 14

ing of a director of racquet sports, all associated activities and future planning will be handled by the operations staff. Removing the advisory committee from the operational aspects of racquet sports such as running the pro shop and organizing instructional classes also serves to avoid any potential confusion on the appropriate source for all information regarding the racquet center.”

He said the Board’s assertion that operational changes at the racquet sports center, including hiring of a director, and that all associated activities and future planning can be handled by the operations staff, doesn’t make sense. He pointed out that a racquet sports manager, who was quickly promoted to director, was actually hired in spring 2023 and no changes to the RSAC were made at that time.

The background for the motion refers to operational changes like they are new when there were made a long time ago, Noble said. “Why have we waited until now to do it?”

He said the Board’s assertion that there is a need to remove the advisory committee from operational aspects of racquet sports, such as running of the pro shop and organizing instructional classes, is also false. RSAC has made very few suggestions as to how the pro shop should be run and was not involved in racquet sports classes.

In fact, he alleged, RSAC wasn’t even allowed to speak with the former racquet sports director, and he never attended committee meetings.

Noble said the motion to dissolve RSAC was made because of a presentation by one RSAC member, speaking only for herself not on behalf of the committee. He said the change is being made because that person made the Board and management uncomfortable and raised serious questions about racquet sports matters.

He acknowledged there may be a reason to disband the RSAC but it should be done for the correct reasons and the background information should accurately describe the situation.

“This has been the worst experience of my lifetime,” Cathy Noble, RSAC chairman, said of her experience volunteering for the committee. She said she was there to speak during public comments to “shed some light on the truth” and added that she hoped she would not be cut off, disregarded, misquoted or silenced “like I have been in my short tenure as committee chair.”

Noble cited a litany of complaints including that the OPA is offering a three-sport racquet sports membership, which she claims RSAC never supported, missing video from Board meetings where that plan was discussed, and video from two years ago that was allegedly edited to delete her objections.

When it comes to the racquet sports center, Noble said all members are aware of the ongoing

flooding problem at that building. She said after a heavy rain the OPA closed the racquet center building supposedly because of the allegation of mold at the facility that was made by another RSAC member. While the OPA is implying the issue is a new one, RSAC asked for a mold inspection a year ago.

In an effort to promote her position, Noble read a lengthy statement from the former racquet sports director, Tim Johnson, stating that after flooding at the racquet center the carpet remained damp and had a moldy smell and staff began to feel nauseated so they were relocated to others areas. She said Public Works even acknowledged flooding has been a problem for years at the racquet center.

As for the planned renovation of the building, Noble acknowledged that an RSAC member did contact Worcester County to determine if there were limitations on what the OPA could do on the site of the racquet center.

“This has been framed as intentional sabotage or insubordination,” she said, but added it was just a member of the community asking for public information “in a genuine attempt to do what’s best for our community,” he said.

Bernie McGorry, former chair of the OPA’s Strategic Planning Committee, said disbanding a committee does not align with the current strategic plan or the core values established for the To Page 19

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Mold allegations lead to committee’s demise

SERVPRO inspector confirms water intrusion, likely small area of ‘microbial growth’ treated by OPA staff in accordance with industry standards

There was a disconnect between wording in a motion to dissolve the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee at the Board of Directors April 20 monthly meeting and the primary reason six of seven directors voted in favor of dissolution.

The motion said that “given the operational changes at the Racquet Sports Center, including the hiring of a director of racquet sports, all associated activities and future planning will be handled by the operations staff.

“Removing the advisory committee from the operational aspects of racquet sports such as running the Pro Shop and organizing instructional classes also serves to avoid any potential confusion on the appropriate source for all

information regarding the racquet center,” the motion concluded.

It was clear by the comments of the Board members during the meeting that the hiring of a new director was not the primary reason for the disbanding of the RSAC.

Board members made it abundantly clear that the motion was the result of a statement read by Suzanne Russell, a member of the RSAC, during the Public Comments segment of the March 23 Board meeting, highlighting concerns about possible mold in the building causing employees to be sick and in some cases causing them to quit.

Ocean Pines quickly closed

the building so that testing for mold by expert mold remediators could be done.

The Board and General Manager John Viola released a statement on March 29 stating that no significant mold issues were found after an inspection of the building by SERVPRO of Southern Delaware.

The Progress has obtained copies of emails detailing the results of the inspection but so far has not obtained a copy of the full report.

The emails verified that there have been water issues at the clubhouse, as alleged by former Ocean Pines Racquet Sports director Tim Johnson in a recent post that appeared on the Ocean Pines Forum Website. The report did not directly support Johnson’s contention that the “actions of the administration were not prompt or decisive” with respect to incidents of water intrusion.

The emails suggest that the OPA has done some remediation necessary because of water intrusion.

One email sent to Nobie Violante, the OPA’s deputy director of Public Works, from Ian Haney of SERVPRO on April 23 stated: “At your request, we inspected the clubhouse area at the Ocean Pines racquet and tennis club area. We observed that there had been some water damage due to flooding/heavy rains that you guys had mitigated with your own staff.

“In the clubhouse entrance area,

we saw that the left wall had the interior finishes removed about four feet up from the concrete floor. This was performed by your in-house staff as you advised. The insulation had been pulled back and the wall cavities, studs and interior side of the exterior plywood was visible from the interior now. This was done to dry out and or remove water or microbial damaged materials. Drying equipment such as a fan and DH were also present and provided by others or your staff. The affected area was drying out at that time.

“We observed a few very small areas of discoloration on the interior side of the wall cavity on the interior side of the plywood sheeting. A small area of this was most likely microbial growth and some of it was likely staining from water or growth.

“The industry standard states that mold in quantities of over ten square feet requires an industrial hygienist to provide an inspection and a remediation protocol. The quantity that we witnessed was less than one square foot and if the water/moisture issue is dealt with and the area of growth is properly treated and or encapsulated as per the scope you stated you were following, in our opinion, it should pose no further concern.

“You advised that you were treating it with micro-ban or a similar product and then seal[ing]/encapsulat[ing] it with an industry-recognized product prior to closing the wall back up. This process is in accordance with industry standards and the processes that most remediation companies utilize in such a scenario, ” the email concluded.

Another reason driving the Board’s vote to dissolve the RSAC was the committee’s advocacy of a new building rather than a renova-

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tion, after a Board decision had been made to proceed with renovation. The committee previously had supported the renovation over starting over, but more recently began advocating for a new building.

That advocacy was not well received by the Board majority thatfelt that the issue had already been decided and that by adopting advocacy the committee lost sight of its primary role as advisors to the Board.

The 6-1 vote to eliminate the committee leaves the racquet com-

Dissenting voices

From Page 16


“You should be collaborating with the committees not discontinuing them. You should be respecting them,” he said.

During development of the current strategic plan, he said more than 18,000 people responded to a community survey and their number one concern was a lack of core values for the OPA. The committee in conjunction with OPA staff and the Board developed those core values of integrity, collaboration, respect, transparency and sustainability.

“I’m concerned about the Board’s alignment with the strategic plan, the goals in there, and the core values that we all agreed upon,” he told the Board.

What the Board should be doing is developing a strategic plan and aligning the leadership and plans with the strategic plan, he said.

A motion to eliminate a committee is the opposite of what’s in the strategic plan, he said. “We want to engage the community. We want to embrace the community,” he said, adding that the Board should be giving the committees a voice on its agenda instead of forcing members to speak up during Public Comments.

“Don’t be petty, don’t be punitive. Be a leader,” McGorry told the Board.

He urged directors to reconsider approving the motion to eliminate the RSAC and to demonstrate the core values outlined in the strategic plan.

“Is this the right decision? Are you being leaders?” he asked.

The directors apparently believed that they were.

They subsequently approved the committee’s elimination in a 6-1 vote.

munity without one of the traditional ways advice is forwarded to the Board of Directors, mainly through a Board liaison.

The Ocean Pines racquet sports community is diverse, with players enjoying tennis, pickleball, spec tennis, platform tennis and timeless tennis.

There are three clubs that represent these communities, and the demise of the advisory committee that included members from all three groups won’t adversely affect their ability to make recommendations.

In March, Ocean Pines hired Terry Underkoffler as the new director of racquet sports.

“When I first started, I met with the three club presidents in early April. We had a nice meeting and talked about our goals and the progress of some of the things that were happening,” he told the Progress.

Underkoffler said he plans to meet monthly with the club presidents.

“They have concerns. My job is to be their liaison to get answers directly,” he said.

Underkoffler has a team that he relies on to address the needs of the community. Violante addresses any issues related to Public Works. Ruth Ann Meyer, the OPA’s assessment and membership manager recently promoted to senior manager, handles class fees and database issues.

Parks and Recreation Director Debbie Donahue is in charge of big events and tournaments at the racquet center.

“I have all of these people that are part of a team that makes this thing


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From Page 19

work. I can direct the questions to the proper person,” Underkoffler said. “If it is something they cannot answer, then I go to John [Viola].”

Viola approved the process.

“I think it is working so far,” Underkoffler said.

Club presidents were not interested in commenting for this article, wanting to move on from the recent controversy.

Many players enjoying the spring weather on the courts during the week of April 21 either did not know about the Board’s actions regarding RSAC or did not want to comment on it.

Mike Mullen, a member of the Pickleball Club, was the only member willing to voice his views to a reporter visiting the courts.

“The messages they [RSAC] were trying to convey did not agree with the Ocean Pines Board,” he said, calling the situation “sad and unfortunate.”

State champions

The Ocean Pines Association Board on April 20 presented a plaque and commendation to the Stephen Decatur High School Wrestling team for winning its fifth-consecutive state championship. The squad capped an undefeated Bayside Conference season by downing Damascus 50-22 on Feb. 10 during the Class 2A finals. The streak of five straight titles is the second longest in Maryland wrestling history. Along with the team state championship, three individual champions were crowned on Feb. 10: Elijah Collick (113 pounds), Gavin Solito (157 pounds), and AJ Johnson (190 pounds). Collick was also named an NHSCA All American. OPA President Rick Farr (fifth from left), assisted by Director Elaine Brady (third from left), presented the commendation, which was read into the record of the meeting.

At the Board’s April 20 monthly meeting, Viola moved the clubhouse renovation project from green to yellow, a designation that indicates a slower process to begin and finish a project.

It remains a Board priority, but it may take longer than originally

thought to complete it.

In the interim, much of the clubhouse is not being used, still torn up after the recent hunt for mold.

Check-in functions have been moved to the back of the building, which is accessible from a separate entrance.

Viola said the yellow designation means a timetable for completion needs to be reevaluated.

In the case of the renovation he said it’s likely to be rescheduled for the fall.

Mold allegations
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Viola downplays water issue at racquet center clubhouse

Says he and Nobie Violante fixed the problem and it hasn’t been a problem since

Ocean Pines Association General Manager John Viola has rebutted claims by a former OPA racquet sports director that there were significant flooding issues at the racquet center clubhouse and that the OPA administration was tardy in dealing with it. In a recent post on Ocean Pines Forum, former Ocean Pines Racquet Sports Director Tim Johnson said that members of the now disbanded Racquet Sports Advisory Committee were “right to be concerned for the health and safey of the employees and patrons” of the

racquet center.

“The building is outdated, too small, and it floods whenever there is rain. The water seeps into the carpet behind the front desk, sometimes leaving attendants in standing water as they check in the players. The carpets remain damp for days afterward and create a moldy smell, often leading staff to develop headaches, and forcing them to leave the doors open even in the coldest of weather, which leads to other health concerns,” according to Johnson.

He said he notified the OPA’s human resources manager and the general manager “seeking guidance

regarding the leaky building,” and requesting permission to relocate staff and check-in desk to the lounge.

Johnson alleged that Public Works has “acknowledged this has been a problem for years.”

Viola told the Progress in an April 24 interview that there have been water issues at the clubhouse, but it never rose to the level of creating a mold problem as alleged by a committee member in Public Comments during a March 23 Board of Directors meeting.

He said that the building when it is renovated later this year would contain features that would solve the water issue, although he took issue with whether conditions at the clubhouse have amounted to flooding.

“What is flooding anyway,” he said. “Yes, on occasion water did get into the building.”

When he first learned of an incident involving water penetration into the building late last year or early this year, he and Deputy Public Works Director Nobie Violante went down to the buildng to provide a fix. It took an hour or two to do it.

“Water was coming off the gutters and coming into the building,” he said. The solution was to install piping to redirect the water from the gutters and send it downhill.

“Once we did that, we didn’t hear of any recurrence of the problem,” Viola said.

Johnson was employed at the time and should have been aware of the fix, he added.

The general manager said that as part of the renovation, design features would be incorporated to ensure that the building’s interior stays dry even during the most torrential downpours.

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Revised ARC guidelines pass on second reading

New driveway paving, sign rules approved

Ocean Pines property owners will now have to get a permit if they want to pave their driveway, but they no longer need a permit to put up candidate signs during an election.

As part of an overhaul of the Architectural Review Committee guidelines, the Board of Directors on April 20 approved a series of minor changes that are designed to clarify and simplify language in the document that governs residential design and maintenance for the Ocean Pines Association.

Director Elaine Brady presented the second reading of revisions to the Architectural Review Committee Guidelines, including a few updates since its first reading in January. She said the changes are part of a continuing effort to improve and update the guidelines using language that is as simplified and direct as possible to reduce confusion and misunderstanding.

“It just brings certain things up-to-date,” she said.

Brady said ARC spent more than a year looking at the guidelines and was very thoughtful in its recommended changes.

She said the ARC suggested updates to the guidelines based on issues that have arisen over time at the committee’s meetings. She added that there has been a heighted concern about the community’s appearance by residents during

the last few years and some changes are in response to that increased effort to ensure Ocean Pines looks its best. The changes are also based on the ARC’s interpretation of the guidelines as they apply to the changing characteristics of the community.

One of the revisions to the guidelines is the elimination of language regarding the requirement for a permit for candidate signs for OPA’s elections. ARC does not provide permits but rather it gives permission for signs to be placed on lots in the community. Many candidates over the years were either unaware of this provision or ignored it, and the ARC has never attempted to enforce it.

Another revision to the guidelines clarifies the window during which OPA election signs are allowed on properties. The new language states that signs can be placed in the community beginning when the OPA ballots are mailed out to property owners and continuing until the ballot return date.

Political candidate and proposition/referendum signs and flags may not be displayed prior to 30 days before the primary election, general election or vote and must be removed within seven days of the end of their candidacy.

The revised guidelines also state that no sign, flag, advertisement or decoration of any type shall be nailed, or in any way fastened, to trees. All signs have to be located between the front

property line and the structure and may be parallel or perpendicular to the street. The guidelines specify that real estate flags are prohibited, as are all signs for short-term rentals.

Placement in the right of way, in easement areas or on any structure owned or operated by the association is prohibited and will be removed without notice.

Brady said another change in the guidelines is a requirement for property owners to obtain a permit from the OPA for paving or repaving of their driveways. She said ARC is concerned about stormwater runoff and feels the addition of a paving permit is needed in the community to help address drainage issues.

Driveways and parking areas are already required to have a minimum coverage of three inches of gravel or crushed stone. Now a permit will be required from Ocean Pines prior to installation or increase to the paved area. Worcester County Department of Environmental Programs must review all planned driveway improvements prior to work being started and before Ocean Pines will issue a permit for work to begin.

Some of the other areas being addressed in the revised guidelines are the need for more current property surveys and site plans when property owners make application so ARC can make informed decisions, and more detail on what will be needed to apply for variances and exceptions.

Other updated language addresses construction requirements, including fencing, docks, driveways, structures and vacant lots, plantings and tree removal, drainage including fill, grading, and culvert pipes. Revisions also clarify language around recreational vehicle storage, home-based businesses and signs, including flag style or fabric signs.

The new guidelines are posted on the OPA Website, in the section devoted to the ARC.

Board approves routine changes to a pair of resolutions

The Board of Directors unanimously approved changes to a pair of resolutions that provide guidance to the Ocean Pines Association’s advisory committees, updating Resolution C-01, Committee General Policy, and Resolution C-03, Budget and Finance Advisory Committee, on April 22.

Director John Latham presented the revised resolutions for second reading and Board approval.

One change is to clarify qualifications for committee membership and the other simply to renumber sections of the document.

As background on the changes to C-01, Latham said these revisions are an effort to precisely document membership requirements and create a procedure for processing applications and approving committee membership.

Director Steve Jacobs was the only one to speak on the resolution, saying he would vote in favor of adopting the changes but pointing out a potential problem with the language.

He said there is an incongruity of language in the revised resolution regarding the role of the Board liaison to advisory committees.

In the past, Jacobs said, he was informed that the role of the Board liaison when it comes to his or her relationship to the committee membership is that of a conduit.

The liaison is charged with taking information from the chairman of the advisory committee, signing off of membership recommendations, and bringing them to the attention of the Board.

The revised resolution C-01 states the Board liaison will review applications for committee membership and make recommendations to the Board as to whether the application should be accepted or rejected. Then the board liaison will complete the application form with a designation of acceptance or rejection.

“It does seem to me to be inconsistent with what the role of the liaison is,” Jacobs said, adding “I don’t know why it’s there.”

He added that “oddly enough it includes a footnote at the bottom which says be advised that the Board liaison cannot make the decisions. Only the Board has the authority to do so,” Jacobs pointed out. That makes the requirement for any sort of designation of acceptance or rejection by the Board liaison superfluous, he said.

Jacobs also said the Bylaws and Resolutions Advisory Committee suggested attaching the application form that would need to be completed by prospective members to the resolution, but that wasn’t done for the second reading. “I don’t think it’s critical. I thought it was a good idea,” he said.

If OPA members are interested in joining an advisory committee, they are encouraged to apply, but they must meet the qualifications

To Page 26

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Viola again vows tiki bar will be ready for Memorial Day

General Manager John Viola’s monthly report to the Board of Directors on April 20 included updates on OPA financials,ongoing initiatives and maintenance, the upcoming reserve study, and other issues of interest.

Viola said the Yacht Club tiki bar expansion remains on track to open by Memorial Day.

Concrete work is finished, and framing and electrical work for the inside of the bar have started. Replacement equipment is on order.

“We’ll be there and ready in the middle of May,” he said. “If not, we’ll have alternative plans and everybody will get their drinks.”

Ocean Pines Association President Rick Farr is hopeful that the expansion will be completed by Memorial Day weekend, when he’s planning a

ribbon-cutting to mark the occasion.

South Gate pond

Viola said the Association received two bids for the soft shoreline project at the South Gate Pond. Staff is in the process of reviewing bids with Vista Engineering and Maryland Coastal Bays, and meeting with contractors.

Veterans’ pavilion redesign

Viola said he met with Veterans Memorial Foundation President Marie Gilmore again on the new pavilion at the memorial grounds, now slated to open by Veterans Day. He said Frank Brown, a former Board member, will

A Whayland Construction Company crew was hard at work at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club tiki bar April 25. At left, a roof truss is ready for installation. OPA John Viola is promising that the project will be ready by Memorial Day weekend, when OPA President Rick Farr anticipates a ribbon-cutting to usher in use of the expanded amenity.

From Page 24

outlined for the specific committee and complete the application process.

Application forms are available at the Ocean Pines Administration office and can be downloaded from the OPA website.

Members should include their name, address, telephone number, committee choice, reason, background, signature, and date of application.

Latham also introduced a second reading of changes to Resolution C-03, Budget and Finance Advisory Committee, to renumber sections in the resolution.

He said a review by the Budget and Finance Advisory Committee noted sections were numbered incorrectly and it simply wanted to fix the problem.

This change passed the Board unanimously.

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GM report

assist with design work and Whayland Construction will build the pavilion.

“I’m excited about that one and it’s good to be working with Marie and everybody else,” Viola said.

Originally slated to be completed by Memorial Day, the new later deadline for completion will give the foundation and OPA more time to upgrade the pavilion from the simple design that had been envisioned to a structure more in keeping with the memorial.

Racquet sports clubhouse

He said the status of the Racquet Sports clubhouse renovation was recently moved to “yellow.”

That basically means it won’t be pursued as a top priority this year.

“We’re shifting gears a little,” he said. “However, the Board has instructed me … to continue on with what’s been approved, and we still are focused on that.”

He said the renovation plans would prioritize expanding the bathrooms, pro shop and director’s office, and creating better visibility of the courts for staff.

Despite some recent controversy in local social meeting about incidents of flooding in the building, Viola did not mention it.

The Progress has been told that there will be measures taken during the renovation to make sure flooding isn’t an issue.

Reserve study

Viola said the Maryland Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee is proposing an extension from three years to five years for funding requirements related to homeowner’s association reserve levels.

He said Ocean Pines, already engaged with an independent firm to update its recent reserve study, remains well positioned to follow state requirements.

“We have been ahead of the game on this, since we did have an outside, independent reviewer come in five years ago, as well as a couple years ago,” he said. “We’re positioned better than we were five or six years ago – way better.”

Viola said the firm, DMA Reserves, would come back in November for another reserve study update. He cautioned that the Association’s total reserve requirements could change, depending on the firm’s recommendation.

“We’re already working on all the details,” he said. “But, at this point, it’s uncharted waters as far as what our reserve numbers should be.”

Beach Club maintenance

Viola said staff recently fielded several inquiries about maintenance of the Ocean Pines Beach Club.

He said the bathrooms were renovated in 2018. After a walk-through inspection last fall, the interior restaurant area was repainted, and counters were sanded and re-stained.

Public Works also does an annual building inspection to locate and replace any damaged boards.

“We do replace the boards every year [and] they will be doing that again this year,” Viola said, adding the entire deck is scheduled for replacement over the next few years.

“I just want to assure everybody that that is in the plans and the budget,” he said.

In other maintenance news, road paving started on April 8 and will continue along eight streets: Battersea Road, Canal Road, Deerfield Court, Driftwood Lane, Moonraker Road, St. Martins Lane, Waters Edge Court, and Wharf Court.

Landscaping and beautification

Viola said beautification continues to be a priority, with landscaping crews currently focused on mulching and applying herbicides ahead of the summer.

The North Gate Bridge recently featured a bright and colorful collection of tulips, and new palm trees are coming soon. Cherry blossoms are in bloom along the North and South gates.

“Those cherry trees are just gorgeous,” Viola said.

Relining drainage pipes

Viola said Pelican Underground would soon re-line drainage pipes at more than a dozen different locations: 1221 and 1223 Carrollton Lane; the Golf Course; White Horse Drive; Capetown Road; 57 Ocean Parkway; 7 and 52 Pinehurst Road; 192 Teal Circle; 34, 44 and 84 Lookout Point; 27 and 48 Seafarer Lane; 28 Admiral Avenue; and 22 Harpoon Road.

This year’s program has been approved at a total cost of $210,637.

He said the Association is in the fifth year of its “cured-in-place” pipe replacement program that’s cheaper, less invasive to install and longer lasting than traditional methods.

“We’ve spent about a million dollars on these pipes, these liners. The money that it’s saved us … is incredible,” Viola said, adding that some drainage pipes had not been replaced in 50 years.

“This is something I really believe was never addressed [before],” he said. “This is key on why the drainage is better.”

New electronic sign

Viola said the new electronic sign was installed at the North Gate on April 16. The sign features rotating black-and-white text of important information and upcoming events.

The total cost was $26,558, including $4,440 for surveying, permits, and new pavers and landscaping.

“We were pretty much on track with what we promised we would deliver,” he said, adding staff would receive training on the sign the following week.

“Credit to Public Works. They did all the pavers there and I’m very excited and happy about what they did,” Viola said.

Amenities prepared for summer reopening

Viola said Golf membership numbers are trending upward, and the Clubhouse Grille is benefiting from strong returns across the golf amenity.

A Residents Golf Day was held April 21, offering free play, free access to the driving range, free lessons and closest to the pin and putting contest.

The purpose of Residents Golf Days was to encourage more local residentsd to join the Golf Club.

He said clay court renovations started this week at the Racquet Center by ATC. The project involves removing the old clay and replacing with new, grading and rolling courts, and installing new tape lines

New support beams are being installed at platform tennis courts.

Outdoor pools are undergoing maintenance and cleaning ahead of the Memorial Day reopening, and lifeguard certification classes were held April 19-22. The junior guard program will return this summer, and swim lessons will continue at the Sports Core Pool through May.

Recreation and Parks are offering a variety of new programs, including yoga, chair yoga, bodyweight bootcamp, skateboarding classes, painting classes, and disc golf and cornhole leagues.

Summer camps are completely full, and a Community Bike Ride event is scheduled for May 11.

28 Ocean Pines PROGRESS May 2024
From Page 26 u
The new electronic sign at the North Gate.

Viola outsources HR function

General Manager John Viola recently eliminated the full-time human resources position and replaced it with out-sourced HR services, the Progress has learned.

He said the change won’t really save the Ocean Pines Association money, but the OPA will handle HR matters just as efficiently as it ever has.

“The decision was made to outsource the function, and we hired a consultant to fulfill that role. We continue to use the major part of HR with our law firm, as has been the process since 2017,” Viola said, referring to an HR specialist working in former counsel Jeremy Tucker’s law firm.

Counsel Bruce Bright’s Ocean City law firm has a similar division working within that specializes in HR matters, Viola said.

The consultant is part-time, and has already met with department heads.

Members sought for Historical Work Group

The Ocean Pines Association is seeking volunteers for a new Historical Work Group.

OPA Director Elaine Brady, at an OPA Board of Directors meeting April 20, brought up a discussion topic on establishing a work group to collect, properly preserve and organize historical items related to the history of Ocean Pines, along with determining how to best showcase them.

“The 50th Anniversary Committee received many documents and pictures from individuals who helped shape our community,” Brady said.

GM Report

From Page 28

IT updates

Senior Executive Office Manager Linda Martin said Wi-Fi was upgraded at the Yacht Club after the outdoor Board meeting held last year. The new system includes five additional Wi-Fi points and cost $2,000.

The Association also upgraded microphones for Board meetings and improved the process of running slide presentations during meetings. The new equipment was used during the April 20 Board meeting, with remote viewers noticing an improvement.

Waterways updates

Martin said aerators placed at the drawbridge canal at Bay Colony were not working, and two replacement aerators were ordered and will be installed as soon as they arrive.

She said the 2023-2024 bulkhead replacement program would wrap up during the next few weeks, after emergency repairs at Library Bell Court and Heron Isle Court.

She said replacement buoys were installed in the canals the prior week.

Road paving

This year’s road paving started the week of April 8, approved by the Board last October at a cost of $356,618.

Successful bidder for the project was by Asphalt Maintenance LLC.

Streets slated for resurfacing include Battersea Road, Canal Road, Deerfield Court, Driftwood Lane, Moonraker Road, St. Martin’s Lane, Waters Edge Court and Wharf Court.

CPI and customer service updates

Martin said the Compliance, Permit, and Inspections (CPI) Department issued 119 new violations in March. During the month, 84 violations were brought into compliance and 218 remain open. Also during that period, 138 new work orders were initiated and 83 were closed, with 170 remaining open.

Martin said the customer service team fielded 161 emails in March, including 71 general questions, 45 about amenities, 28 for CPI, 12 for Public Works and five on drainage.

For general questions, contact or call 410-641-7717.

“There was some discussion at that time of creating a way to display them. However, other than repurposing a few message boards surrounding the Administration parking lot for a handful of items, the rest has been sitting in storage.

“It’s time we should start looking at ways to organize and showcase those items. Additionally, we should collect our more recent documents and pictures in order for future generations to not only learn the history of the beginnings of Ocean Pines, but how the community has evolved over the years before the inherent knowledge and documents are lost,” she added.

For more information or to inquire about joining the work group, email Brady at

OPA announces promotions for Wells, Swift

Ocean Pines Associatio General Manager John Viola recently announced a pair of promotions to staff members.

Eddie Wells, long-time Public Works director, will be promoted to Senior Director of Public Works.

“Eddie will take on enhanced responsibility for strategic planning, DMA Reserve Study, and pivotal initiatives in addition to his existing Public Works duties,” Viola said. “With a proven track record of driving operational excellence and implementing innovative solutions, Wells is well-positioned to lead the Public Works department to new heights.”

Additionally, Mark Swift, currently the Accounting Manager of the Finance Department, will be promoted to Assistant Controller.

“Mark brings a vast range of knowledge to OPA, and he continues to develop his skills,” Director of Finance, Controller Steve Phillips said. “He has taken on increased responsibility over the past two years and continues to

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be a key employee of OPA.”

Viola emphasized the significant contributions of both Wells and Swift to the Ocean Pines Association.

“I am very pleased to make this announcement. Recognizing our staff continues to be one of my favorite parts of the job. Eddie and Mark both earned this, and as I structure the organization to meet the needs of the coming years, I hope to be able to make a few more announcements like this down the road,” he said.

Homeowners encouraged to update email

Ocean Pines Association members are being encouraged by the OPA to update the email address associated with their member account.

This can be done by contacting the Ocean Pines membership office at and including first and last name and lot number in the email, along with the preferred email address. Homeowners should also include their member number, found on the back of their property card.

Alternately, homeowners can change their email by logging onto their account at and clicking on “My Profile.”

Email addresses on file with Ocean Pines are primarily used for billing purposes and can also be used in official correspondence. They will also be used during the OPA Board of Directors annual election by the elections vendor to notify members that a ballot has been received and cast.

Committee appointments OKd

At the Board of Directors’ April 20 monthly, three committee appointments were voted approved. The appointments include Wesley Blakeslee, second term, Strategic Planning; Michael Galella, first term, Architectural Review; and Robert Long, third term, Golf.

Responsibility for curing property violations transfers to new owner following a sale

Bruce Bright clarifies policy responsibility during April 20 meeting

When a property declared to be in violation of the Ocean Pines Association’s restrictive covenants is sold, the new owners become responsible for correcting the outstanding issue, according to the OPA’s legal counsel.

The Board of Directors reviewed a list of properties that are in continuing violation of the restrictions and up for referral to counsel for legal action at its April 20 meeting, but one of those properties, 14 Widows Watch Court, was about to be sold. Director Stuart Lakernick wanted to know what happens to responsibility for fixing the violation when the property changes hands.

OPA Attorney Bruce Bright said, if there is a pending violation on a property and there is a contract to sell it, he recommends putting notice of that that violation into the property resale packet.

He said doing so will put the new owners on notice of the outstanding violations but “it can’t get in the way and prevent a purchase from happening.” Including information regarding the violation in the resale packet ensures that the buyer is aware they are taking title of a property while there is a continuing violation.

Bright said including that information in the resale packet also ensures that once a sale is completed the new property owner is aware that they will assume responsibility for correcting the outstanding violation. “And the buyer’s going to become obligated,” he said.

Linda Martin, senior executive office manager, said the violation at 14 Widows Watch Court was discovered as part of the sales process and it was noted in the resale package. She said that particular property has not changed ownership yet in the OPA’s system. When it does the violation will transfer as well because it was noted in the resale packet for the property.

Bright said if a property transfer occurred and a violation was not noted in the resale packet, then the OPA would need to start the process over with the new owner.

The Board voted unanimously during the meeting to suspend the voting rights and amenity use of 12 properties in Ocean Pines and to refer them for legal action. The properties with outstanding violations are: 14 Widows Watch Court, 12 Whaler Lane, 56 Lookout Point, 43 Moonshell Drive, 13 Riverside Court, 39 Abbyshire Road, 158 Seafarer Lane, 10 Royal Oaks Drive, 26 Gloucester Road, 13 Boston Drive, 865 Ocean Parkway, and 795 Ocean Parkway.

Martin said first and second notices of the violations were sent to the owners of all of those properties and no one requested a hearing before the Board.

At the meeting, Martin pulled three properties from the list to be sent to legal counsel. She said the owners of properties at 31 Sundial Circle, 53 Fairway Lane, and 2 Mist Flower Road did respond to the second notice sent to them. Therefore, the owners are being given an extension of time to correct the violations on their lots, she said.

Violations on another four properties at 74 White Horse Drive, 76 White Horse Drive, 87 White Horse Drive and 61 Falconbridge Road will be resolved by having a contractor address the outstanding issues and billing the property owners for the related costs.

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OPA Board honors nearly 200 volunteers at annual dinner

Absence of Racquet Sports committee members duly noted

The Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors on on April 12 hosted its Annual Volunteer Dinner at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club.

The event is meant to honor the many volunteers, from advisory committees to social and civic groups and public safety organizations, that help make Ocean Pines what it is. This year, roughly 200 volunteers were invited.

Ocean Pines Association President Rick Farr acted as the event’s emcee.

“This event is meant to recognize with appreciation our dedicated volunteers who selflessly donate their time, skills, and passion to support Ocean Pines,” he said. “Your unwavering commitment and tireless efforts have made a significant impact on the community we serve. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am truly grateful for your invaluable contributions, enthusiasm, and dedication to serving our great Ocean Pines community.”

Farr separately recognized Ocean Pines advisory committees: Aquatics, Architectural Review, Budget and Finance, Bylaws and Resolutions, Communications, Elections, Environmental and Natural Assets,

Golf, Marine Activities, Racquet Sports, Recreation and Parks, and Strategic Planning.

All but Racquet Sports committee members attended the dinner, apparently after committing to attend. Their absence was noted.

Director Stuart Lakernick, during the April 20 Board of Directors, said their decision not to attend after committing to do so cost the OPA in reservations that had to be paid for.

Farr also recognized the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department, including President Joe Enste and Fire Chief Joe Widgeon, along with the Women’s Club of Ocean Pines, Pine’eer Craft Club, and Worcester County Veterans Memorial Foundation.

Farr and Association Secretary John Latham are Memorial Foundation Board members.

Farr also recognized fellow Ocean Pines Board members Latham, Dr. Stuart Lakernick, Monica Rakowski, Steve Jacobs, Elaine Brady, and Jeff Heavner, all of whom serve as volunteers.

Farr also thanked Ocean Pines Association General Manager John Viola and attending staff, including

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Experienced officer joins OPPD

Freddie Howard sworn in during April Board meeting

The Ocean Pines Police Department’s efforts to recruit and hire new officers to get back to full operating strength took a step forward when a new officer, Freddie Howard, officially joined the OPPD during a swearing-in ceremony at the Ocean Pines Clubhouse.

Ocean Pines Association President Rick Farr conducted the ceremony during a regular Board meeting that included many of Howard’s family members in the audience.

“This is something new and something that is going to be a tradition in Ocean Pines,” Farr said.

“We are delighted, as a Board, to be able to do this and have the swearing in ... and have Mr. Howard take the oath of office.”

Ocean Pines Police Chief Tim Robinson said Howard comes to Ocean Pines following a distinguished 25-year career with the Ocean City Police Department.

According to a Town of Ocean City release, Howard served as a seasonal police officer for three years before becoming a full-time officer with the Hurlock Police Department in 1997. He returned to the Ocean City Police Department as a full-time officer in August of 1999.

During his two-decade-plus career in Ocean City, Howard worked as a K-9 handler, domestic violence investigator, and police recruitment member. He received the Excellent Police Performance Award in 2002. The following year, he received the Meritorious Service Award and the Worcester County Commissioners Award, and in 2005 Howard was named the Neighborhood Watch Police Officer of the Year.

Howard also received the Excellent Police Performance Award in 2018.

Volunteer dinner

From Page 32

Police Chief Tim Robinson, Senior Office Manager Linda Martin, Senior Manager Ruth Ann Meyer, and Administrative Assistant Michelle Lane Ross.

“I would like to give special thanks to Linda Martin and Michelle Ross for their incredible assistance in planning and putting this event together,” Farr said. “Thank you also to Lia Isel and the Matt Ortt Company for the food and beverage service this evening.”

Also in attendance and recognized were Maryland Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, Maryland Del. Wayne Hartman, and Worcester County Commissioner President Chip Bertino.

After the event, Farr again stressed the vital importance of Ocean Pines’ many volunteers.

“The volunteer dinner was an absolute success, and we received wonderful feedback and gratitude from our county and state leadership for the invitation to share in the celebration. I and the rest of the Board felt it was our responsibility to not only recognize the advisory committees for their dedication and service,

Ocean Pines Association President Rick Farr (third from left) congratulates newly minted Ocean Pines Police Department Officer Freddie Howard after he was sworm in during the April 20 Board of Directors meeting. Also shown (left) is Chief of Police Tim Robinson and OPA Director and Vice President Stuart Lakernick (far right).

Also during the meeting on Saturday, Robinson said the Police Department was in the process of reviewing signage in the community, including median strip signs.

“They’re at every single crossover,” Robinson said. “They seem to be a little bit superfluous ... so we are going to be cutting back on those signs.”

Robinson said removal of some of the signs would help with beautification efforts along Ocean Parkway.

He also asked motorists to not block traffic crossovers, especially during times when traffic is backed up.

“If traffic is backed up for whatever reason, try to make sure you keep those crossovers open so people can get through there,” he said.

but also the other organizations and clubs that serve our great community,” he said.

“It was important to us to recognize the Fire Department for their selfless and dedicated service and for keeping us safe, and the Worces-

ter County Veterans Memorial Foundation for their recognition and dedication to all our veterans who have served our great country,” Farr continued.

“We also wanted to recognize the Women’s Club, Garden Club, and

Pine’eer Craft Club for their many scholarships and outreach programs.

All these men and women who volunteer and dedicate their time and service to Ocean Pines help to make our community the best – because they are the best,” he said.

Season kick-off

Ocean Pines Chief of Police Tim Robinson and Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Joe Widgeon were among the hundreds who flocked to White Horse Park and the Community Center for the season kick-off event April 20 from 3-7 p.m. The event was designed to show off Ocean Pines amenities and give local organizations an opportunity to introduce themselves to residents.

May 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 33 OCEAN PINES

Board funds new splash pad for Swim and Racquet Club

Old Rubaroc surface to be replaced with CombiTile

The Splash Pad at the Swim and Racquet Club will be replaced with a new porous safety surface called CombiTile that is reusable and expandable.

The Board of Directors during an April 20 meeting awarded a contract to Aqua-Seal Resurfacing of Canton, Ohio, for the project.

At a total cost of $36,040, the company will remove the old splash pad and install the new pad. The

new pad is about 800 square feet in size and will be removable if the Ocean Pines Association needs to change the splash pad’s layout in the future.

The new splash pad is costing the Ocean Pines Association $28,580 and removal of the existing splash pad is costing $7,460.

Linda Martin, OPA senior executive office manager, said the existing splash pad, made of a product called

Rubaroc, is chipping off in places.

It poses a tripping hazard. There was a time when Rubaroc was the industry standard for splash pads but it seems its time has passed.

The new CombiTile, with interlocking tiles, is cited on the AquaSeal Resurfacing Website for its easy intallation, chlorine resistance, and UV tolerance.

Two companies submitted bids for the splash pad. Innovative Sport

District 5 school board candidates speak out on possible ‘flat’ budget for county school system

McComas, Huber support full-funding; Shelton-Leslie suggests cuts in full-funding are possible

Worcester County Commissioners are leaning in favor of providing another so-called “flat” budget for the public schools in Fiscal Year 2024-25. This would be the second year in a row. Worcester County is a small school district consisting of 14 schools and a district office.

This year, the total budget is $125 million with 94 percent being fixed, including salaries, budget and contractors and maintenance of buildings.

That leaves $8.9 million as far as finding places to save, according to Elena McComas, a current member of the Board of Education from District 5 (Ocean Pines) who is running for reelection in the May 14 primary.

The official term for the flat budget proposed by the commissioners is Maintenance of Effort (MOE), which requires that each county must appropriate an amount equal to or greater than its prior year per pupil appropriation.

“[MOE] doesn’t take into consideration items such as employee salary increases, health insurance hikes, bus contractor rate increases or other expenses affected by inflation,” McComas said.

“The minimum state required maintenance of effort (MOE) funding for Fiscal Year 2024-25 is considered a “flat” budget and is $99,501,471. Our Board of Education local funding request is $107,312,390, a difference of $7,810,919. This represents two years since we were given MOE last year also.”

Full funding for county public schools has visible support in the Pines and the surrounding area. “Support Public Education” signs are popping up around Ocean Pines and a recent rally in Ocean City drew a reported 400 supporters demanding full funding of the Board of Education’s proposed Fiscal 2024-25 budget.

This is an issue that has caught the attention of the three Ocean Pines candidates for the Board of Education, McComas, John Huber and Dorothy Shelton-Leslie.

Of the three candidates, Shelton-Leslie seems at least somewhat sympathetic to the commissioners’ concerns.

“I have mixed emotions,” she said. “I want everything they [students] can possibly have. Who doesn’t?

“The commissioners and board have a responsibility to show that the tax dollars are being spent well,” Shelton-Leslie said.

Leslie believes that there are places in the budget, such as costs for vehicles, where cuts can be made that will be reasonable and not impact the students.

“If we really look carefully we can come to a solution that does not impact our children directly,” Shelton-Leslie said.

Such a solution would probably fall somewhere in the middle between MOE funding and full-funding.

McComas supports full fundng, as might be expected from an incumbent school board member who’s running for reelection.

“I understand being conservative with our tax monies and spending wisely, but I consider our smaller class sizes to be an integral part of

Resurfacing of Mentor, Ohio, submitted a proposal costing $22,000 but for reasons not explained, did not submit a bid for removing the existing pad.

A third company, Pool & Spas Unlimited of Milford, De., which installed the original splash pad, was asked to submit a proposal but declined to do so.

Martin said the project is included in the OPA’s 2024-25 capital plan.

In addition to a new splash pad, patrons of the Swim and Racquet Club swimming pool facility will be enjoying the reopening of the snack bar facility this summer, an amenity that in recent years has been unused.

the academic success of our schools,” McComas said.

“We have complied with the county commissioners, answered many questions and produced a 176-page detailed budget which can be found on our Website. I don’t see our budget to be extravagant or excessive.

“Our focus has always been our kids and smaller class sizes is a priority for both our parents and community. Also our outstanding teachers are being left behind salary wise despite a Maryland state law requiring a significant increase by 2027. With the overall County General Fund Budget last year showing that it under budgeted revenue adding $27 million to its coffers, our request for $7.8 million dollars to cover two years is hopefully doable,” McComas said.

Candidate John Huber said he is 100 percent for a fully-funded budget.

“I cannot imagine anyone who is not,” he said.

He believes that the flat funding last year put the school system behind. “They are trying to recover what they lost last year. And the commissioners are caught in the middle.”

He sees significant impacts on the school system with another flat budget.

“It would result in a reduction in services, reduction in staffing and programs. Everything is on the table at that point when they have to start making cuts at that level,” Huber said.

The top two vote-getters in the District 5 primary advance to the General Election in November, even if one of them is able to win

34 Ocean Pines PROGRESS May 2024 OCEAN PINES u
Shelton-Leslie McComas Huber

County commissioners await responses to budget questions

Hanging in the balance is a ‘full funding’ and ‘maintenance of effort’ school board budget with a difference between them of about $7.81 million

The Worcester County Commissioners are still waiting for the Board of Education to provide more detail about its requested $109.57 million in funding for fiscal year 2025, and they aren’t inclined to “waste” county staff time trying to help the school system cut its budget.

That is the responsibility of the Board of Education, a majority of commissioners said after Commissioner Eric Fiori offered a motion at an April 16 meeting to get the budget staff for both parties together to hash out spending levels.

The motion failed 5-2 with just Fiori and Pocomoke City Commissioner Caryn Abbott in favor.

“I don’t think that we should get involved deeply into what they should and shouldn’t do, what they should and shouldn’t cut,” Chip Bertino, Commissioner president and Ocean Pines’ District 5 representative, said.

“That’s up to them. That’s not our responsibility. They have an elected board who is responsible for doing that.”

The Board of Education initially requested $109.57 million from the county commissionersfor Fiscal Year 2024-25, 80 percent of its proposed $135.13 million budget.

State aid is expected to come in at a paltry $25.95 million.

The school board then worked to trim its opening request, and did so. It’s now $107.31 million, according to District 5 (Ocean Pines) school board member Elena McComas.

The spread between maintenance of effort and full funding of the school board’s request is now about $7.81 million.

Following a nearly six-hour budget meeting with the county on April 9, the county sent the school system staff back to gather more information about items like grant accounting and a better breakdown of anticipated revenues.

Since then, Fiori said some members of the leadership within the Board of Education reached out to him and asked if the two sides could have staff meet to “come up with a way to try to get

School board candidates

From Page 34

more than 50 percent of the votes in the May 14 primary, the Progress has been told.

Most years, the outcomes of school board elections are determined during the primary election, because there are only two candidates running.

School board elections in Worcester County are non-partisan.

together collaboratively” on the funding package.

So he offered his motion that county budget staff and Board of Education budget staff “sit down and see if they can come up with some ideas so that we can solve this problem of funding.”

The two sides are far apart. There have been indications that the commissioners are leaning toward funding a “flat” or maintenance of effort budget.

Commissioner Jim Bunting asked Fiori what the two parties would be talking about. “I’m trying to figure out what we’re going to accomplish doing this,” he said.

Fiori said he feels it would be helpful to the commissioners to get some recommendations from the combined staff efforts.

He said the goal wouldn’t be to necessarily cut specific line items from the school budget but rather “talking about budgetary procedures that may make a few small changes that may yield some additional dollars” in reductions.

Ocean City Commissioner Joe Mitrecic railed against the motion, saying the county staff has already spent too much time dealing with the school system’s budget.

“We’ve wasted enough time of county staff with this going on this long,” he said “It’s just time to move on. We either fund it or we don’t. Let us get on with the business of running the county,” he said.

Mitrecic said county staff is falling behind in their other duties because they have been spending time trying to decipher the Board of Education’s budget.

The county staff has more to deal with than the Board of Education’s budget and the county budget includes more than funding for the schools, he said.

“You’ve just got to put on your big boy pants and vote yes or no for their budget. And let’s move on,” Mitrecic told Fiori.

He said it is not the county’s place to micro-manage the school system budget but rather just to decide how much funding the county will provide for it.

“At this point in time, they have their budget. They know what they need. And we just need to either vote for their budget or not and move on,” he said.

Abbott disagreed, saying the Board of Education asked for help and the county should provide it. “It was asked from the Board of Ed and that is a first. We need to meet them there,” she said, adding she doesn’t want to go through this same extensive review process with the school system every year.

“I want to get to that point but we’re not there. We haven’t even gotten the answers back from the questions we asked,” she said. “I think it’s a

good step of extending the olive branch.”

Fiori took issue with Mitrecic’s comment that it would be a waste of county staff time to meet with school budget staff.

“We’re talking about 50 percent of the county budget. Wasted? Disagree, sir. We’re not wasting time. We’re looking for value for both our education system and our taxpayers,” he said.

By having a conversation the staff would not be wasting time, but rather trying to solve a problem, he said. “And it’s not about putting on big boy pants.”

He argued that county taxpayers are funding a huge burden for the school system and the commissioners need to do their due diligence before providing a funding allocation.

He said he understands that it has taken a lot of time but it represents 50 percent of the county budget.

“I think conversation is a wonderful thing, and the more conversation we have. The more problems we can solve,” he said.

Mitrecic said he has the most at stake of any of the commissioner because he represents Ocean City and its non-resident taxpayers of Ocean City fund 60 percent of the county budget.

“It does take just a decision whether we’re gong to fund it or not and at what level we are going to fund it,” he said.

Bertino said it’s incumbent upon the Board of Education to present a budget and they have done so. If it would like to submit a revised budget, he said the commissioners would entertain that. But he added “I’m very uncomfortable with us getting involved in micro-managing to use that term or directing what they do on their budget.”

Bertino pointed out that no one from the school system made a formal request to the commissioners to have their staff get together with county staff; they didn’t send a letter or submit a revised budget.

During the April 9 budget work session, Bertino said the county is already funding more than the $73 million required by the Blueprint for Maryland’s future, a state mandate passed in 2021 that aims to make comprehensive changes to the education system.

He said the county is already paying that $73 million plus an additional $26.5 million.

The school system’s total budget of $135.13 million includes a $5.89 million increase in salaries steps and cost of living for certified staff and 6.5 percent for support staff, a $627,000 health insurance increase, $60,043 employee retirement, $212,445 teacher pensions and $450,648 fixed charges.

It also includes an increase of six percent in the hourly rate for bus contractors and a mileage reimbursement increase.

For the current fiscal year, the county funded above the maintenance of effort level for the school system, another state mandate that requires the local governments to maintain their education funding per pupil annually.

The commissioners will hold a public hearing on the requested 2024-25 budget, including the school system’s request, on May 7 at 6 p.m. at the county government building in Snow Hill.

The hearing will also be livestreamed.


With only one months left in the 2023-24 fiscal year, the Ocean Pines Association will likely end up with another $1 million operating fund surplus, more precisely defined as positive variances to budget. The string of 11 consecutive positive variances for the year was boosted by a positive fund variance of $148,035 in

March, with revenues over budget by $44,478 and expenses under budget by $103,557.

The cumulative positive variance of $1,055,680 for the year was the result of revenues over budget by $797,108 and expenses under budget by $258,572, according to the March financial report posted on the OPA Website in mid-April by Controller/Director of Finance Steve Phillips.

During the April 20 montly meeting of the OPA Board of Directors, General Manager John Viola said that the forecast for golf this year is a profitable $40,000, even with sizable depreciation included.

“It’s huge,” he said. “The golf Course pays for itself, [and] the golf course will pay for that new irrigation system” over the life of the system. As the golf course prospers, so does the Clubhouse Grille, he said.

He also cited strong performance in Aquatics as another driver of the month’s robust bottom line.

Of the ten amenity departments listed on the “net operating” schedule in Phillips’s report, only two, beach parking, and the Yacht Club, were in the black for the month. That’s typical for this time of year.

The more accurate measure of success is performance relative to budget.

but tennis and platform tennis are in the black.

Compared to budget, all but tennis and platform tennis and marinas have positive variances for the year.

Viola said that marinas were affected by a preponderance of weather advisories, which impacted gas sales.

Actual results for a month and cumulatively for the fiscal year, as well as results compared to budget and Year-over-year, are the primary ways to measure performance.

For the year through March, beach parking is the top amenity performer, generating $529,790 in net revenue, ahead of budget by $52,545. Last year through March, beach parking was in the black by $520,191.

Golf operations, which had been the top producer among the amenities through December, slipped to second place in January and remains that way at the close of March, but that doesn’t stop Viola from singing its praises.

Golf generated $396,899 in net earnings through March, ahead of budget by $208,914.. Last year through March, golf had earned $319,075.

The Yacht Club has overtaken the Beach Club as the third best financial performer. It’s solidly in the black for the year through March, racking up $217,374 in net earnings, ahead of budget by $27,962, Last year through March, the Yacht Club’s net earnings were $225,591.

The Beach Club, closed for the season, had $215,873 in earnings through March, ahead of budget by $57,478. Last year through March, the Beach Club’s net earnings were $213,694.

Of these ten departments, all were ahead of budget for the month or close to breakeven.

In the case of the Beach Club, which is closed until it reopens for the summer in late May, it recorded an $18 negative variance for the month. The Clubhouse Grille missed its budget by a nominal $558.

The eight departments that outperformed their budgets in March were tennis, pickleball, platform tennis, aquatics, golf operations, beach parking, the Yacht Club, and marinas.

Beach parking and marinas are closed for the season.

For the year through March, all

Marinas, also closed for the season, remain a top performer for the year, earning $202,807 through March but under budget by $22,075. At this time last year, marinas had recorded a $226,176 operating fund surplus.

The Clubhouse Grille, open throughout the year, earned $95,934 through March, ahead of budget by $37,497.

A year prior, the net operating number was $35,989.

In combination, racquet sports are in the black for the year, led by pickleball, which had net earnings of $57,458, ahead of budget by $5,872. A year ago, the net operating for pickleball was $52,743.

Tennis and platform tennis are

36 Ocean Pines PROGRESS May 2024 OPA FINANCES u Precious Paws Animal Hospital Full Service Veterinary Centers Providing Exceptional Care Monday through Saturday John Maniatty, VMD • Ali Lovins, DVM • Justin Maniatty, VMD Fantasia Maniatty, DVM • Scott Hemenway, DVM OCEAN CITY, MD. 410.213.1170 OCEAN VIEW, DE. 302.539.2273 OPA records a $148,000 positive
Positive variance for the year reaches $1.056 million MONTH MONTH YTD YTD YTD YTD BUDGET ACTUAL BUDGET $ VARIANCE ACTUAL BUDGET $ VARIANCE LAST YEAR LAST YEAR GENERAL ADMIN (4,881) (3,802) (1,079) 5,810,027 5,764,250 45,776 5,953,140 5,921,497 MANAGER'S OFFICE (34,856) (29,068) (5,787) (337,016) (343,395) 6,380 (286,654) (276,678) FINANCE (71,942) (80,584) 8,642 (769,415) (823,816) 54,401 (757,539) (757,084) PUBLIC RELATIONS (30,920) (28,816) (2,104) (242,463) (263,556) 21,094 (247,345) (248,282) COMPLIANCE / PERMITS 2,013 (2,701) 4,714 (65,924) (19,961) (45,964) (97,257) (65,709) GENERAL MAINT (72,271) (58,553) (13,718) (711,417) (650,497) (60,921) (638,013) (673,784) PUBLIC WORKS (99,770) (120,691) 20,921 (1,340,743) (1,557,203) 216,461 (1,283,825) (1,540,484) FIRE / EMS (84,076) (84,076) (0) (924,841) (924,841) (0) (975,355) (975,355) POLICE (117,252) (160,804) 43,552 (961,144) (1,281,514) 320,369 (1,151,170) (1,300,004) RECREATION / PARKS (31,518) (42,341) 10,823 (398,552) (446,076) 47,524 (376,381) (469,343) TENNIS (7,350) (12,620) 5,270 (33,356) (26,384) (6,972) (28,066) (30,808) PICKLEBALL (537) (2,655) 2,118 57,458 51,586 5,872 52,743 34,794 PLATFORM TENNIS (1,604) (2,148) 544 (21,696) (9,660) (12,036) (4,469) (12,032) AQUATICS (21,517) (60,605) 39,087 47,744 (53,631) 101,375 111,438 (16,049) GOLF OPS + MAINT (38,788) (51,124) 12,337 396,899 187,985 208,914 319,075 103,530 CLUBHOUSE GRILLE (3,296) (2,738) (558) 95,934 58,437 37,497 35,989 42,618 BEACH CLUB (4,275) (4,257) (18) 215,873 158,395 57,478 213,694 128,028 BEACH PARKING 11,210 10,549 661 529,790 477,245 52,545 520,191 496,977 YACHT CLUB 3,095 (13,134) 16,228 217,374 189,413 27,962 225,591 137,894 MARINAS (2,832) (9,234) 6,402 202,807 224,882 (22,075) 236,176 207,550 NET OPERATING (611,367) (759,402) 148,035 1,767,340 711,660 1,055,680 1,821,958 707,274 OCEAN PINES ASSOCIATION NET OPERATING BY DEPARTMENT MARCH 2024 4/16/2024 OPA NET OPERATING RESULTS BY DEPARTMENT - MARCH
operating fund variance in March
Ocean Pines Association Finance Department

Fundraisers help fire department provide life saving services

Goal is to raise $250,000 per year for apparatus replacement

The Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department answered 320 fire and 2061 emergency medical service (EMS) calls last year. That’s nearly seven calls a day. Already, the department has responded to more than 12 reported structure fires this year alone.

Funds received from the county and state cover about half of the cost of running the department. The Ocean Pines Association (OPA) covers the remaining costs. The fire department is then responsible for raising about $250,000 annually for apparatus replacement, which means they are fundraising throughout the year.

This year, the department has numerous opportunities for residents to support fire and EMS services. Many options not only support OPVFD but can also result in a big win for donors.

The OPVFD is running a weekly Queen of Hearts Tournament. Each

Net operating

From Page 33

both in the red and behind budget for the year through March, Aquatics remains in the black for the year so far, with $47,744 in net earnings and ahead of budget by $101,375.

At the same time the year prior, Aquatics had been ahead of budget by $111,438.

Aquatics is achieving this result even though it was able to hire a sufficient number of lifeguards and support staff at full funding last summer.

Reserve summary -- The March 31 reserve summary shows a total fund balance of $7.83 million, down from $8.08 million in February, $8.535 million in January and $8.7 million December.

The replacement reserve balance on March 31 was $5.78 million, with bulkheads and waterways at $434,375, roads at $1.125 million, drainage at $388,353, and new capital at $102,642.

Balance sheet -- The March 31 balance sheet shows total assets of $46.63 million, compared to $46.42 million at the same time last year.

week, players can purchase tickets for $5 a piece to buy a number on the Queen of Hearts board. A winner is selected each week by a random number generator. That number is scratched off the board and if a Queen of Hearts is revealed, the winner gets 60% of the jackpot, currently over $4000. OPVFD gets 40% of the pot. Players also win smaller amounts if their number reveals a joker or if their name was selected. The jackpot increases until there is a winner.

“Once you get to a jackpot of a certain level, more people buy tickets,” Joe Enste, president of the OPVFD board of directors said. Enste said the department has never done this type of fundraising before, but did research on successful fundraisers that other departments and non-profits have conducted.

The department hosted its second annual cash Bingo event this year, bringing in $10,000 from the sold out event.

The annual truck raffle is also being held this year with a twist. In the past, the department has sold up to 7000 tickets during the raffle, at $20 a ticket. This year, the cost per ticket is $100, but there will only be 2,500 tickets sold.

“The odds are better this year,” Enste said.

Plus, this year, OPVFD will pay the costs for tags, title, fees and gaming fees for the winner. The winner will still have to pay the gaming fee, but the OPVFD will reimburse the cost. That’s about a $18,000 savings for the winner, according to Enste.

OPVFD is partnering with Pittsville Ford to purchase the truck, a 2024 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercrew, which is currently on display outside the Southside Fire Station.

The department is continuing its brick campaign where individuals can buy a 4x8 inch brick for $100 or an 8x8 inch brick for $200, which will be used to erect a unique feature at the updated station.

The department will also run its annual fund drive in the fall. Mailings go out to Ocean Pines residents. All the funds raised throughout the year help the fire department provide life saving services to the community every day.

Enste and Fire Chief Joe Widgeon have met with OPA General Manager John Viola and President Rick Farr to discuss the needs of the fire department. Enste expects to continue the dialogue with OPA leadership through quarterly meetings.

Residents can support the OPVFD in many ways, from donations to volunteer work. There is a role for everyone, from firefighting and EMS to administrative, assisting with fundraising and social events to support active members and their families, Enste said.

To thank those who serve the community, the association has provided increased incentives for both career and volunteer members including privileges at the aquatics, golf course and racquet sports.

The OPVFD’s annual truck raffle is under way, but with a twist. This year, the cost per ticket is $100, but only 2,500 tickets sold, improving the odds of success for ticket-holders.

May 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 37 LIFESTYLES Traditional & Cremation Services Available for Pre-Need Arrangements The Burbage Funeral Home 108 Williams Street, Berlin 208 W. Federal Street, Snow Hill Berlin• Ocean City Ocean Pines • Snow Hill 410-641-2111 Since 1810, we’ve been caring for people like you “An Eastern Shore Tradition”

State and community leaders celebrate Pine’eer Craft Club’s

golden anniversary

Special guest Anne Turner recalls group’s founding ‘under the trees’ in what was then a campground

April 18 was a banner day for the Pine’eer Craft Club, as state, county and community leaders helped celebrate 50 years of club activity.

Chief among those, Club President Sharon Puser said Craft Club donations have benefited many community groups over the last five decades, with more than $185,000 to date in total donations.

That includes more than $35,000 for Ocean Pines Recreation and Parks, more than $23,000 for Ocean Pines Police, and more than $15,000 for the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department and EMS. Other donations went to Ocean Pines Public Works, the Neighborhood watch, the Worcester County Veterans Memorial Foundation, the Ocean Pines Library, the Ocean Pines Garden Club, and others.

“Unfortunately, years of records were lost due to flooding, so that’s the verifiable donation number – we know there is more,” Puser said. “The money has gone toward critical needs that support a growing community, like playground equipment, masks for firemen, bike helmets for children, equipment for policemen, tables and chairs for the community centers, support for concerts in the park, and much more.”

Maryland Sen. Mary Beth Carozza was a featured guest of the luncheon and presented Puser with a citation sponsored by herself and Del. Wayne Hartman offered special recognition for “the stunning handcrafted gifts” the club creates, and the good service it does for the Ocean Pines community and beyond.

Worcester County Commissioner President Chip Bertino was also present to read a proclamation to club members and guests by declaring it “Pine’eer Craft Club Day.”

Worcester County Chamber of Commerce in Ocean Pines President Kerrie Bunting was also present to recognize the club.

In addition to club members past and present, Ocean Pines Board of Directors Elaine Brady, John Latham and Monica Lankowski attended, along with General Manager John Viola and Police Chief Tim Robinson, Worcester County Veterans Memorial Foundation President Marie Gilmore, and Recreation and Parks Director Debbie Donahue.

One special guest, 92-year-old Anne Turner, was president of the club in 1975. She brought a sweatshirt that she bought at the Artisan Gift Shop many years ago, claiming it was one of her favorites as she reminisced about the many friends she made.

Turner also offered the story behind the club’s name.

“Mary Fickle was the first president of the crafting group, and we used to have meetings in the campgrounds under the trees,” she said. “As one of the first clubs to form in Ocean Pines, and as she looked up through those pines at the blue sky above for inspiration, she decided to name the group the Pine’eer Craft Club.”

Other former members were invited to stand and share memories, and there were many smiles around the room.

The Craft Club is busily preparing for big fundraising events, including the August Craft Fair,

Publisher issues book by spirituality blogger Tom Rapsas

Ocean Pines resident offers daily insights for the spiritually curious

Tom Rapsas is a resident of the Innerlinks neighborhood in Ocean Pines, where he lives with his wife and several cats. While working in advertising for over 40 years, since 2012 he has also been writing the Wake Up Call column at the faith site, penning over 500 spirituality columns.

In January 2024, a book based on his top Wake Up Call stories from the past decade, Wake Up Call: Daily Insights for the Spiritually Curious, was released by Wildhouse Publishing. It’s comprised of 112 of his most popular columns, and it has been endorsed by several leading spirituality writers.

Thomas Moore, author of the bestselling Care of the Soul, said that “Wake Up Call gives you imaginative yet practical guidance for finding your way in life. This book will stir you.”

Philip Goldberg, author of  American Veda, wrote “Every page of his eminently practical book rings out with insight, inspiration, and instruction. Whatever path you’re on, whatever your soul yearns for, you’re sure to find spiritual sustenance in this banquet of offerings.”

While all of Rapsas’s stories fall loosely under the umbrella of “spirituality,” they cover a lot of ground. The reason? He believes that “if your spirituality is genuine, you’re not just concerned with your own personal development. You care about the impact you have on those around you, including your family, friends, and community.

“A person committed to the spiritual path takes a full circle view of life, knowing that it’s

Desserts in the Park, and the Holiday Craft Fair.

The August Craft Fair will be held on Aug. 3 in the Ocean Pines Community Center and White Horse Park. Those interested in becoming a vendor this year should contact Kelly Davis at or call 609-351-2125 for more information.

The Pine’eer Craft Club always welcomes new members. For an information packet, email Sherry Waskey at or attend meetings on the third Thursday of each month in the Ocean Pines Community Center.

The Pine’eer Craft Club also operates the Artisan Gift Shop, across from the Ocean Pines Administration Building and next to the Farmer’s Market.

The shop is open weekends, year-round, and features gifts, seasonal items, and home décor favorites.

Artisans who would like to be featured in the shop may contact Debbie Jiwa or Barbara Herzog at for more information.

Tom Rapsas


not just about their own well-being, but the values and character they bring to the world.”

Wake Up Call: Daily Insights for the Spiritually Curious, is broken down into 16 chapters or weeks with a story for each day of the week. Each day has its own category including inspiration, awareness, calling, and contemplation. A voracious reader, most of his stories are based on the many books he has read, as well as the occasional podcast or blog post, and his personal experiences.

You can check out his weekly column at and find his book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores like The Greyhound in Berlin.

38 Ocean Pines PROGRESS May 2024 LIFESTYLES
“This book will stir you.” — Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul

Hiring MK Elections Services a close call

It’s a close call in some respects but the decision by the Board of Directors to hire an outfit out of Pittsburgh to handle this summer’s Board election can be justified.

The vendor, MK Elections Services, checks off all the boxes the Elections Committee and Board wanted in this year’s election contractor, among them: location on the East Coast, ability to handle counting of paper ballots and compiling electronic votes in-house in a single location, and a capability to allow for an “observable count” in the case of paper ballots.

The latter capability is important more for political virtue signalling than it is for election transparency and accountability. The observable count of paper ballots is to be handled remotely, with a camera set up in the counting room and the process of counting ballots then live streamed to an audience of the intrepid in Ocean Pines, gluttons for punishment who might be able to endure three or more hours of watching a projection screen or perhaps a computer monitor as the vote count proceeds.

Keep in mnd that this belabored process does not include remote viewing of electronic voting, which takes place in cyberspace inaccessible by mere mortals.

OPA President Rick Farr justifies the $5,000 to $7,000 additional cost to provide an “observable count” as a way of providing maximum transparency as the OPA returns to e-voting after a oneyear hiatus. He said he wants to discourage the naysayers from accusing the Board of not providing the desired transparency.

As he soon discovered, the naysaysers emerged regardless.

The Board majority agreed with that judgment call, although Director Elaine Brady correctly pointed out that whatever decisions the Board would have made about this summer’s election, Board actions by their nature result in criticism and praise by the OPA membership.

You’re never going to please all the people all the time.

The naysayers have already made clear that the “observable count” to be viewed remotely on a computer or projection screen does not meet the expectations of these critics. They want the observable count to be avaiable for in-house viewing, rather than turned over to the vendor for live streaming.

If the criticism was going to come anyway,as probably could have been predicted, then the committee and the Board would have been perfectly justified to hire a vendor other than MK Election, whose services will be costing the OPA north of $26,000. That’s still under the $36,000 budgeted for the election this summer, but given the historical cost of holding elections in Ocean Pines that $36,000 budget was highly inflated.

Anywhere from $5000 to $7000 extra for an observable count does seem a trifle extravagant.

Farr in comments to the Progress is suggesting that including the observable count this year might turn out to be it first and final year, a transitional period as more OPA members opt out of submitting paper ballots in favor of quickly and expeditiously casting electronic ballots. Let’s hope so.

As more and more members opt out of paper ballots in favor of e-voting, the number of ballots that could be “observed “as they’re counted will dwindle.

This was a judgment call this year only, by six elected directors. The Board’s naysayer-in-chief, Steve Jacobs, dissented, as he often does.

In this instance, he’s not wrong. Paying extra for the dubious privilege of watching the electoral equvialent of paint drying may not be the best use of association funds.

But these six directors were all duly elected by the membership to make these kinds of decisions, and $5,000 to $7,000 is essentially a rounding error in the OPA’s annual budget.

Perhaps MK Election Services could have been “required” to submit a proposal excluding an observable count, but the vendor apparently held its ground.

It was all or nothing, and the Board majority went with the all.

As a story in this month’s Progress can attest, another issue that is intriguing on its face is whether the Elections Committee can function as an operations committee when it is established as an advisory committee to the Board.

Two frequent critics of the Board, Sherrie Clifford and Amy Peck, raised that issue during Public Comments at the special meeting of the Board on April 24.

That it is and has been an operational committee deputized to deal with finding and vetting election vendors, which in recent years has occurred outside the open meeting requirement that generally applies to advisory committees, is more or less authorized in its enabling resolution, C-08.

The language in C-08 says the committee “administers the voting process for the electon of members of the Board of Directors.”

Furthermore, C-08 says that in fulfilling its responsibilities the committee performs functions including the “planning and supervising the distribution, collection, verification and counting of all balots cast by members for the election of Directors and referendums.”

Clearly, this language sets the Elections Committee apart from most advisory committees in Ocean Pines. It indeed does seem to call for a substantial degree of hands-on administration of annual Board elections, far afield from an advisory-only role.

Before this and previous iterations of this committee decided to outsource much of the ballot counting process, the committee was very hands-

on operationally, only differently from what is happening now.

The current iteration of the committee headed by its chairman, Tom Piatti, has made it clear it doesn’t want to be in the same room with the people and equipment used in the counting of ballots.

As a practical matter, it means the committee is swapping one form of operational activity, hands-on counting of ballots, with another, seeking out, vetting and then recommending to the Board of Directors a vendor that can provide all election-related services, from mailing and printing of ballots, to collecting them, and then counting them.

In this regard, the committee has peformed competently, a credit to Ocean Pines. True enough, much of its activity this past year has been conducted behind closed doors, the process not open to the membership to witness.

In the sending out of requests for proposals and vetting of proprietary vendor information prior to making a recommendation to the Board of Directors, would the OPA membership want and expect this activity to be openly accessible to the membership, in real time?

Probably not, any more than there would be a clamor to witness OPA staff sending out and vetting proposals for, say, expanding the Yacht Club tiki bar. Rather, there would be an expectation that this activity could indeed occur in private.

This “issue” is easily fixed. A sentence or two amending C-08 to specifically allow closed meetings under defined circumstances should be easy enough to craft. ~ Tom Stauss

The Ocean Pines Progress is a journal of news and commentary published monthly throughout the year. It is circulated in Ocean Pines and Captain’s Cove, Va. 127 Nottingham Lane, Ocean Pines, Md 21811 PUBLISHER-EDITOR Tom Stauss 443-359-7527

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rota L. Knott 443-880-3953 Cindy Hoffman 202-489-5587
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Conditional use permit proffers remain

Townhome developer to Include 1.5-acre of land and a $430,000 donation for an emergency medical service station to the Greenbackville Volunteer Fire Department

When the Board of Supervisors meet May 15 and take up the proposed twoyear extension of a conditional use permit for the planned Hastings/Mariner townhome project, proffers by the former owner of the land where the project is planned will likely pay a key role in whether the supervisors approve the extension.

The former owner, CCG Note, sold the property to R2JS of Edgewood, Md., in October of last year.

The same proffers that were in play when the supervisors approved the original conditional use permit for the project in April of 2022 have been inherited by R2JS. A proffer is a promise to supply some service or guarantee in exchange for obtaining the conditional use permit.

The proffer that probably has received the most public scrutiny is a promise by the new owners that they will deliver a pad-ready site to

the Greenbackville Volunteer Fire Department, of approximately 1.5 acres, for a new emergency medical service station.

In addition, the developer has agreed to provide up to $430,000 for the cost of a new ambulance and toward the cost of the new EMS station. The 2022 proffer is conditioned on the developer proceeding to build out the project.

The 2022 proffer included two potential sites for the new EMS station, one directly fronting on Fleming Road in Section 13, and the other a site within the Hastings/Mariner project. While the GVFD prefers the Fleming Road site because it would enable faster emergency response times in other areas of the county, that option has been opposed by some within Captain’s Cove.

As a result, CCG Note had concluded that it would be prudent to proceed with planning for a pad site within the townhome project.

In addition, the proffer indicates that the prop-

erty developer will coordinate with the Captain’s Cove property owners association for the design, installation and payment for a new entrance into Captain’s Cove. While the new entrance will be deemed a private road to be owned by the Cove POA, the proffer says the new entrance will be unrestricted in use, that is, open to the general public.

The proffer says the owner/developer will not rent out units in the new subdivsion for daily, weekly or seasonal rentals, “so long as the CCG Note retains ownership of the Mariner project.”

That provision may no longer be applicable because CCG Note no longer owns the property, but it’s also possible that R2JS won’t want to rock the boat and change any proffer from 2022.

Another profffer indicates that the owner will make a $10,000 donation to the Ripken Foundation’s STEM funding in Accomack County schools, prior to the issuance of a building permit for any townhome or commercial building or EMS building on the Hastings/Mariner site.

The 2022 proffer says the developer will be responsible for landscape maintenance, with dense shrubbry designed to screen parts of the devlopment from the view of motorists on Stateline Road.

The businesses that would be added to the project would be restricted to retail, office and childcare services.

The Accomack County Planning Commission voted 6-3 after a public hearing March 13 to forward a favorable recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for a two-year extension of a conditional use permit for the planned townhome project at the 24-acre Hastings/Mariner property near Captain’s Cove’s east entrance off State Line road.

The existing permit, granted in April of 2022 to facilitate development of the Hastings/Mariner parcel into a 140-unit townhome community, expires in May of this year.

CCG Note, the Captain’s Cove declarant/developer, sold the property to R2JS in October of 2023.

Lee Pambid, Deputy County Administrator of Planning and Community Development, said the request for an extension, except for one minor date change, met all of the conditions and proffers of the 2022 condition use permit.

May 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 41 CAPTAIN’S COVE

New Homes Currently Under Construction

Lot 1106 Amidship Dr.

Pearl B C $324,990

Two-Story, 4 BR /2.5 BA 1680 sq ft., Open Concept, 2 Car Garage, SS Appliances, Kitchen Island, Granite Kitchen Countertops, White Painted Birch Cabinets in Kitchen

Lot 1111 Amidship Dr.

Sussex B $384,990

Ranch 3 BR / 2 BA 1810 sq ft.,Open Concept, 2 Car Garage, SS Appliances, Kitchen Island, Granite Kitchen Countertops, White Painted Maple Cabinets in Kitchen, Gas Fireplace, Screen Porch

Lot 1113 Amidship Dr.

Topaz C $329,990

Two-Story, 4 BR /2.5 BA 1911 sq ft., Open Concept, 2 Car Garage, Bonus Room, SS Appliances, Kitchen Island, White Painted Birch Cabinets in Kitchen

Lot 480 Dry Dock Court

Topaz C $344,990

Two-Story, 4 BR /2.5 BA 1911 sq ft., Open Concept, 2 Car Garage, Bonus Room, Sunroom, Granite Kitchen Countertops, SS Appliances, Kitchen Island, White Painted Birch Cabinets in Kitchen

Lot 196 Navigator Dr. Golf Course Lot

Sussex B $399,990

Ranch 3 BR / 2 BA 1810 sq ft., Open Concept, 2 Car Garage w/ opener, SS Appliances, Deluxe Kitchen Island, Granite Kitchen Countertops, White Painted Maple Cabinets in Kitchen, Gas Fireplace, Upgraded Primary Venetian Bath, Screen Porch

Prices are subject to change without notice and photos may show upgraded features not included in price

42 Ocean Pines PROGRESS May 2024 CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS Hall Realty 4243 Captain’s Corridor Greenbackville, VA. 23356 302-381-6910 (cell) 757-854-1604 (office) 757-854-1606 (fax)

Article on roads construction misreported interest rate paid by the declarant/developer

An article in the March edition of the Cove Currents misreported the interest rate paid by the declarant/development on behalf of Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club to cover the interest cost of three separate loans from a private investor for new road construction in Captain’s Cove beginning in the mid-2010s.

The interest rate was 6 percent, not the five percent attributed to then CCGYC President Tim Hearn in the article.

Hearn’s larger point in the article remains, however.

While CCG Note, the Cove’s declarant/developer, never paid interest on a loan for road construction in the years after the 2012 Set-

tlement Agreement, at a cost of up to $50,000 per year, Hearn said that was because CCGYC never was able to obtain a conventional bank loan for road construction.

The issue is one of five in the Birckhead litigation that remains to be adjudicated by the Accomack County Circuit Court in June.

Hearn’s larger point: Several years after the period cited in the lawyer’s response, the CCGYC Board executed a series of three loans with a private investor from Snow Hill for road construction, Hearn told the Currents. The investor, an owner of multiple Captain’s Cove lots, asked to remain anonymous to avoid attracting solicitation calls.

Roads were built out in Sections 12 and 13, he said, with CCG Note paying the interest on these loans.

One of those loans still remains on the books, with a balloon payment against the loan principle due at the end of the term in 2025, Hearn said.

“The developer paid the association somewhere between $200,000 to $300,000 to cover the six per cent annual interest on these loans,” Hearn said, one percentage point more than the loan envisioned but “never executed” in the 2012 agreement.

Loan principle repayment is the responsibility of CCGYC, Hearn said.

The March article misquoted Hearn when it reported the annual interest rate on these loans at five percent.

Five percent was the interest rate that the developer had agreed to pay on a loan up to $1 million, or

$50,000 per year, according to the settlement agreement.

Hearn, now CCG Note’s local management consultant, said CCG Note’s payment of interest on the loan was consistent in general with the terms of the 2012 agreement.

He said that CCG Note would continue to pay interest on any CCGYC road construction loan that would be executed up to 2032, 20 years after the 2012 agreement.

“We’re basically doing what the [2012} agreement calls for, only at a better rate and not in the time frame the [Birckhead] plaintiffs think it should have been done,” Hearn said. “I wonder if they’re even aware of what CCG Note has done helping the association to build out roads. That they’re litigating this tells me they’re not.”

Hearn has said that First Charter Corporation, the then declarant/developer conveyed most of the roads in Captain’s Cove to the Cove association in the 1970s, including the responsibility for building the roads planned but not yet built, in Sections 1-13. Sections 14-18 were not included in the turn-over, he said.

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Official tells Birckhead county lacks leverage over declarant

Explains that Captain’s Cove was recorded in the land records prior to adoption of the county’s sub-division ordinance

There’s a reason that the local advocacy group Concerned Citizens of Captain’s Cove has been unsuccessful in persuading county planning and zoning staff to cooperate in efforts to force the Captain’s Cove declarant/developer CCG Note to build out roads in Captain’s Cove, one of the pending issues in ongoing litigation that goes to trial in Accomack County Circuit Court next month.

Lee Pambid, deputy county administrator for community and economic development, in a March 13 letter to Teresa Birckhead, president of the CCCC, said that Captain’s Cove was approved as a subdivision prior to the adoption of the

county code, including zoning and subdivision ordinances.

“Today’s subdivision ordinance would involve certain checks to which a developer would be held [before being permitted] to record lots in the courthouse. These gateways include the review and approval of a site construction plan for each section of lots that the developer wishes to record and subsequently sell...”

The other check that exists today “that apparently did not exist when Captain’s Cove lots were recorded is the requirement for improvement/ infrastructure bonds or the completion of the infrastructure itself for that section of lots to be recorded,” he told Birckhead.

Since in the case of Captain’s Cove no performance bonds were

Pambid said the county’s only ‘tool’ is to require the presence of infrastructure including roads prior to the issuance of a building permit.

required and certain areas lacked road build-out, Pambid said the county’s only “tool” is to require the presence of infrastructure including roads prior to the issuance of a building permit.

“We have no leverage with regards to existing lots except for review of building permits,” he concluded.

In a letter to Pambid, Birckhead

requested county assistance in CCCC’s quest to force CCG Note to build out roads in Captain’s Cove. In essence, Pambid’s response was that there is no assistance the county is in a position to offer.

Pambid did not address CCG Note’s contention in the pending Birckhead litigation that another reason that the declarant can’t be forced to build out roads in Captain’s Cove is that the original declarant/ developer conveyed the roads in Sections 1 through 13 to the Cove’s property owner association back in the 1970s, including the responsibility to build and maintain them.

Pambid also did not respond to a number of other allegations made by Birckhead in her letter to him.

Among them:

• Declarants past and present “have failed to transfer roads in Sections 14-18, a causeway to Treasure Island and remaining common areas” to the Cove POA.

• The water and [wastewater treatment facilities “were to be transferred to the association ... CCG Note separated them from the


subdivision and made $3 million ... the declarant [voted} to sell [the utility company] to Aqua in a meeting with only their vote.”

She asked Pambid to allow {CCCC] complaints to “go through the court system before a final approval decision [on a conditional use permit extension] is made for the Hastings/Mariner property,” site of a planned townhome project at the east entrance into Captain’s Cove.

That request was rebuffed. Pambid and his staff recommended approval of the conditional use permit for the townhome project prior to the planning commission last month voting in favor of it. The county Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the extention at its May 15 meeting.

Tim Hearn, developer R2JS’ representative on issues related to the townhome project, wrote Pambid to rebut assertions in Birckhead letter.

Hearn said that Patricia Pelino, as [Association] Secretary, signed the utility sale documents on behalf of CCGYC [the Cove POA].

Ms. Pelino, Rosemary Hall, and David Kieffer were the CCGYC board members who negotiated the transaction on behalf of CCGYC, “as I and three other board members who had invested in the utility company recused themselves.”

Hearn told Pambid that the suggestion that a profit of $3 million was made from the company sale “is a gross exaggeration. The sale price was $2,384,735, with cash to the seller of $2,006,514.

He said that a requirement of the Aqua sale included additional work to be completed in Section 1 from these proceeds, and that $500,000 work was completed by the utility company in 2016-2017.

“This requirement diminished the return to the CCUC investors by $500,000,” Hearn said.

In addition, Hearn said the investors who provided the capital to operate the utlity company when it was purchased after a bankruptcy process “invested close to $750,000 into the company during the 20112015 operating/ownership period. In addition, they provided 2000+ hours of project management and accounting services as part of their investment.

“While it is accurate [to state] that the $1,506,514 represented a financial return of, and on, their investment, when factoring in that amount, plus the respective time commitments and capital provided, u


New lawuit

From Page 45

the claim of a $3 million profit is just bizarre,” Hearn said.

He told Pambid that contrary to claims that the Cove POA was supposed to be the owner of the utility company, “CCGYC had several opportunities to buy the company during the Warfield bankruptcy processes [that began in 2009] and at a State Corporation Commission meeting in 2010.

“I only offered to purchase the utility company after there were no other bidders at any of those events. Given that CCGYC was financially insolvent in 2011-2012, taking on a utility business for which it had no expertise, much less the necessary capital {to purchase}, is not plausible,” Hearn concluded.

In recent comments to the Cove Currents, Hearn said there is no law on the books in Virginia that would force the declarant to turn over infrastructure in Sections 14-18 that has not yet been built or the Treasure Island causeway to the association.

Amenity or business? Marina Club operations reflect some of both

Food and beverage manager says there’s not enough potential business in Captain’s Cove to justify lunch hours

The Property Management Team meeting on April 15 provided some insight in the way that Senior General Manager Colby Phillips and Food and Beverage Manager Charlie Getz view restaurant operations at the Marina Club.

Getz responded to inquiries from some Cove residents about why the facility is open less than seven days a week and why it isn’t open for lunch.

Phillips said decisions on days and hours of operation revolve around the question of whether the Marina Club is an amenity or a business, with the answer that it has elements of both.

Were it strictly run as a business, then hours and days or operations would be cut back severely from

what they are now. Even during the off-season, when there might be 500 or so occupied homes in Captain’s Cove, the facility is open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner, with live entertainment offered on Friday evenings.

If it were run strictly as a business, it might be closed for all except the busy summer months.

There is no expectation that the facility will make money or even break even with that number of occupied homes to draw business from, Phillips told the Cove Currents in a subsequent interview. Getz has told her that at least 200 dinners need to be sold and served on any given day for the Marina Club to break even, and that number is very difficult to achieve with the Cove’s year-round population.

To Page 50



PMT meeting

From Page 48

“People aren’t going to be able to go out to eat at the Marina Club every night of the week,” Phillips said.

The specials are well received, from prime rib night to salmon Sundays.

To the extent that food and beverage operations at the facility are subsidized, it can be regarded as amenity that adds to the quality of life in Captain’s Cove, she said.

“Of course that doesn’t mean we

don’t try to run it like a business, in that we try to control costs and keep our margins within industry standards,” she said. “I’m in favor of establishing a budget and operating within it.”

During the April 15 meeting, several Cove residents questioned Getz about certain management decisions, such as having a Saturday night last call at 9 p.m. Would more business result from staying open later?

Getz said it would not. Most patrons have left the facility by 8 p.m.

this time of year, so keeping it open after 9 p.m. would simply add to underlying costs, he said.

During summer months, when population in the community soars, the Marina Club closes at 10 p.m. on the days the facility is open, Wednesday through Sunday, he said.

Getz said that closing the facility on Monday and Tuesday allows for the staff to have days off and avoids additional costs by having to hire additional personnel.

He was also asked why the Ma-

rina Club restaurant isn’t open for lunch.

“There aren’t enough people to justify it,” he said. “It’s been tried,” with the result that paryoll costs are incurred while staff is underutilized and don’t make enough in tips to justify coming in to work.

Phillips added that the Town Center restaurant serves the community year-round is open for lunch.

Getz announced that a new summer menu for the Marina Club would be unveiled shortly, and that members should watch out for fliers on Mother’s Day specials.

Also during the meeting Phillips said that

• as of this past January there were 102 members delinquent on their October half-year dues, with 52 members delinquent 150 or more days. The PMT has mailed out 30day letters to these members, followed up wuth 60-day letters, and made 102 phone calls to members after the 90 days. This in turn was folowed up a second round of more than 120 calls.

These efforts collected $184,870 in December, $148,982 in January, $111,961 in February, $72,861 in March and $40,430 in April.

• format changes to the 2024-25 association budget would be complete by May 25 and that review of proposed departmental budgets would occur between May 28 and June 7.

Budget work sessions open to the community are scheduled for July 10 and July 24, and a final draft of the new budget will be sent to the Board of Directors Aug. 1, with approval expected at the Board’s meeting later that month.

• DMA Reserves of Richmond, Va., was in Captain’s Cove from April 2-5 to review reserve study data, with results expected in May. The reserve study catalogs all of the Cove association’s assets along with expected useful life and replacement costs.

“Once complete we will have an online training on how to use their Navigator system. It is their interactive cash flow funding model that will show us the communities[our] reserve picture from component replacement expectations to the impact of inflation costs, to alternative funding plans.

“It allows access to view multiple predictable funding plans, adapted to our needs and financial realities. It also shows how funding looks

To Page 52

From Page 50 with loans etc.,” she said.

• a recent survey of members resulted in 43 members sharing their work experiences and expressing willingness “to work with the team if requested.”

• with the help of the Beautification Work Group, the maintenance staff has added new flowers and plants to the first median partition at the front entrance “and we are waiting on the river rock.

“The second partition will be done in fall and then [we will be] looking at the two spots in front of the brick entrance signs for upgrades,” he said.

• Shawn’s Tractor Service has been awared a contract for bi-weekly lot mowing and weekly cutting of common areas. Lot mowing is reserved for homeowners who opt into the lot mowing program and have empty lots.“Our new contract includes blowing off areas needed for weed eating around posts, fences, signs etc.,” she said.

• she and Cove President Mark Majerus attended a one-day seminar that covered a”dozen of the ‘hot topic’ legal issues in HOA’s, POA,s and Condo association. Very informative,” she said.

• Golf course irrigation maintenance took place on April 15 and 16, with golf maintenance working to spruce up bunkers during those days.

Also during the April 15 meeting, Director of Operations John Costello reported that there were 46 calls for security in March, with 17 of those 911 calls that should not have been called into Cove security.

Costello also said that:

• A community-wide algae/mold inspection occurred on April 15, with violation notices sent out with homeowners given until June 15 to correct the problems.

• rounds on the Cove golf course and revenues generated so far are ahead of budget.

• Long-term rental registrations were due April 15.

Community Relations Director Julia Knopf reported that the long-awaited Farmers Market is starting on Thursday, May 18, from 3-6 p.m. at the Marina Club parking lot, continuing on Thursdays through Sept. 19. Seafood lovers will find crabs and clams for sale, along with arts and crafts items. She is still looking for vendors. She is always looking for more olunteers to help out with community events.

Countdown to grand opening of farmer’s and artisan market

It’s only four weeks until the grand opening of the Captain’s Cove Farmers and Artisans Market.

For those who like fresh seafood, then get out your steamer pots and fill up your propane tanks because resident Logan White will have live crabs and Chip Lewis from I Clam 4 U will have clams. All of the seafood is straight from the bay.

Be sure to bring a basket, box, or heavy closeable

bag to get those crabs home.

To go along with your feast be sure to pick up a loaf of fresh baked bread from Around The Corner Bakery and toss a salad with fresh produce from Bratten Farm.

Be sure to stop by every Thursday beginning May 23 from 3-6 p.m. in the Marina Club parking lot. There will be lots of other vendors on hand.

52 Ocean Pines PROGRESS May 2024 CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS PMT meeting

Birckhead says CG Note ‘slowly selling off CCGYC assets

In a recent social media post by Concerned Citizens of Captain’s Cove President Teresa Birckhead, she makes what on the surface seems like an dramatic allegation: that the Captain’s Cove declarant/develioer CCG Note is “slowly selling off CCGYC assets.”

The post did not specify what assets had been sold or whether she believes there had been financial benefit to CCG Note investors as a result of sales.

When contacted by the Cove Currents to explain the comment, Birckhead said her organization did not want to discuss the matter in the local media but instead wanted to litigate the issue in court.

Local CCG Note representative Tim Hearn speculated that one of the assets Birckhead might have had in mind was acreage in Section 14 that was sold off years ago to Aqua Virginia as a future RIB [rapid inflitration basin] site.

“But that’s ridiculous, because the sale was negotiated by directors not affiliated with CCG Note and sales proceeds were received by CCGYC,” Hearn said. “CCG Note directors at the time recused themselves from voting. But not sure what she could be thinking otherwise.”


Cove financial results look very positive

For those who are under the impression that Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club is doing poorly financially year-to-date, with many expense items over budget and the association itself operating in the red, the numbers say something entirely different.

Published on the Cove Website under Public Documents, financial reports, the March 2024 budget summary shows the Cove $236,374 in net operating income in March, ahead of budget by $50,977. Year-to-date through March net operating income was $1.25 million, ahead of budget by $160,437.

The budget comparison then presents additional line items that apparently aren’t treated as operating income and expenses. These include bank interest expense, depreciation, credit card fees, auto loan interest, and, notably, bad debt exepnse.

When these add-on items are included, net income for the month of March was $542,508, ahead of budget by $476,710.

For the fiscal year through March, net income was $682,120, ahead of budget by $314,231.

54 Ocean Pines PROGRESS May 2024

Looking forward to the ‘honey’ of May

As the days steadily become longer, the hive that is Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club awakens with a steady buzz of activity.

This summer, like many others, Captain’s Cove will come alive, hosting summer parties, long days of swimming, extra rounds of golf, and time well spent with family and friends.

While the summer fun doesn’t officially start into Memorial Day weekend, the activities kick off the first weekend in May.

The Marina Restaurant will host two fun events on May 5.

Opening early at 2 p.m., the restaurant will transform into a castle full of young princes and princesses for the annual tea party.

This free event will offer an opportunity to meet two Disney-inspired princesses while eating tea cakes and slaying a dragon.

While the young royals enjoy the tea party, adults looking for a fiesta can Salsa over to the bar, where $5 margaritas will be waiting to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

A summer season on the Eastern Shore can only be complete with fresh corn, blue crabs, clams, and a little honey.

May 23 starts the Captain’s Cove Farmers and Artisan Market.

This long-dreamed-of market will be held in the Marina Club parking lot on Thursdays, from 3-6 p.m. weekly through mid-September.

The market, which is still accepting vendors, will feature local farms, bakeries, seafood purveyors, plus artisans working with everything from alpaca wool to fused glass.

At 7 p.m. on May 23, once your market basket is full of goodies for your weekend picnic, head into the Marina Restaurant for a game of Feud with Friends, a Family Feudtype game.

This game show-inspired event will test your pop culture knowledge and put you head-to-head with your neighbors.

Teams of up to eight players will compete for the top prize.

Who will win this friendly feud?

For Captain’s Cove members whose summer revolves around the

Sunday, May 26, the Town Center Pool will host a free family Summer Kickoff Party from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. This event will be tailored to the youngest members of the community and feature music, ice cream, games, and more.

pool, May 25 is the day you’ve been waiting for.

Both the Town Center and Marina Club outdoor pools will open.

Sunday, May 26, the Town Center Pool will host a free family Summer Kick-off Party from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. This event will be tailored to the youngest members of the community and feature music, ice cream, games, and more.

DJ Donnie will hit the stage, spinning cook-off tunes.

Tickets for this event will go on sale at the Marina Club reception beginning May 1 and are limited to the first 300 tickets sold.

After buzzing from activity to activity, the leisurely pleasures of Captain’s Cove offer a nice contrast. Members can take a note from Otis Redding and spend the day “Sitt’in on the dock of the bay”, perhaps casting a line.

Or, thanks to changes in amenity rates, it is once again free for members to walk the golf course, which is in peak condition during the summer months.

A laid-back round of golf, traditional or Fling, can be played while strolling through the lush green space of the golf course.

Others may find more joy in borrowing a library book and reading poolside as the breeze from the Chincoteague Bay cools them from the hot sun.

Summer, no matter how it is enjoyed, is about the buzz of activities, the joys of friends and family, and, of course, relaxation.

The sweetness of summer would not be possible if it weren’t for the staff of Captain’s Cove.

These worker bees join forces to create an environment of leisure and fun.

If not for the maintenance team, the community wouldn’t have a newly repaired dock, and the pools would not be filled and maintained. The food and beverage staff, which increases in size, brings conve-

nience in the form of snacks and cold drinks. Members are able to relax poolside, knowing that the Hawkeyes of the lifeguard team are watching over their families, keeping them safe.

Pool passes, event sign-ups, and schedules help you plan your summer, and they are possible thanks to reception and the amenity attendants.

Of course, a round of golf is much more fun with a well-maintained course thanks to many early mornings put in by Golf Course Maintenance.

All the departments become the true worker bees, making the summer possible and allowing members to enjoy the fruits of their labors with the sweetness of honey.

Julia Knopf is the community relations manager of Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club.

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