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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


‘Brutal’ losses continue at Ocean Pines yacht club

(March 26, 2015) Continuing the trend of a brutal offseason, the Ocean Pines yacht club posted losses of more than $45,000 for the second straight month.
The new facility lost $45,876 in January, followed by $46,693 in February, raising the total losses since October to $188,910, a five-month average of more than $37,000 in the red.
That’s despite the club only being open Thursday through Sunday, and even though the facility is not required to pay taxes, or rent.
OPA Vice President Marty Clarke said the showing is the worst February during the last eight years – and possibly ever.
The yacht club lost an average of $26,466 in February dating back to 2008, according to documents provided to the Bayside Gazette.
“We’re not being good stewards of the membership’s money,” Clarke said. “Nobody in their right mind would keep a restaurant facility open in the ‘off’ season when it was losing $188,000 over five months.”
Clarke’s recommendation: close the building Oct. 1 through April 14.
“If we had done that, we would have made money this year,” he said.
According to Clarke, Ocean Pines used to do just that, turning to the smaller, more manageable country club for community functions.
“The only power bill we had was the electric that ran the fire suppression system,” Clarke said. “All the plumbing was winterized, just like the beach club is winterized right now.
Clarke said he contacted the board about the possibility of closing the facility during off months. The response he received? “It’s an amenity.”
“It’s not an amenity,” Clarke said. “It’s a badly managed boondoggle. If it was an amenity, people would be paying for it. We pay no rent and we pay no taxes, and we still manage to lose $188,800 in five months. I don’t know how you do that.”
General Manager Bob Thompson said he was still weighing his options at the new facility, but that closing for an entire season was not one of them.
“We’re looking at many different strategies to make sure we’re operating as efficiently as we can,” he said. “The includes modifying our seasonal schedule appropriately. We looked at this winter and we felt that Thursday through Sunday was a good schedule for us and we’re making adjustments along the way. With that being said, completely closing the facility – I do not believe that that’s the best strategy for the yacht club.”
Thompson insisted the club was “more than just a food and beverage facility.”
“It was built with that understanding,” he said. “Events come up and people want to have the facility to use. If we close it down completely, that would become a more challenging event to offer for somebody at a time when they really need it.”
No other facility in Ocean Pines, Thompson argued, offers “the same level” of functionality as the yacht club.
“It is a new facility,” Thompson said. “We’re learning every day what works, what doesn’t. We’re tweaking, we’re making notes all the time.”
High utility costs have been a burden on the facility during the winter, Thompson said, and payroll continues to be an issue.
Thompson also noted that the community began the formal search to replace ousted yacht club manager Dave McLaughlin last month. Beach Club Manager Lynda Huettner took over the position on an interim basis in November.
“Linda has done a fantastic job in really helping to clean some things up and streamline some things, but we need to continue down that effort,” he said. “Our goal, with whoever our new manager is, is to make sure those efficiencies are clearly managed well.”
Thompson said he is in the process of reviewing resumes, and expected to start conducting interviews during the next several weeks.