OCEAN PINES — Ocean Pines Association General Manager Bob Thompson did a lot of talking last week. After discussing his suggested facilities plan with the OPA board of directors during a marathon session Dec. 6, last Saturday he gave a less in-depth report to the membership over the course of about four hours.
Nearly 200 people came out to hear Thompson’s proposal for replacing the Yacht Club and the Country Club, but the number was nearly halved by the end of the first presentation and dwindled still more by the time the question and answer period started on the Country Club replacement began.
Under Thompson’s vision, the Yacht Club would be primarily used as a seasonal dining establishment and a year-round catering facility. The price for knocking it down, salvaging some of the mechanical equipment and erecting a new building would be about $2.5 million.
Thompson outlined his plan to pay for the facility’s replacement. According to him, the Yacht Club could be rebuilt with a $1.5 million withdrawal from the replacement reserves and a $1 million loan. Using a loan rather than deducting the entire cost from the reserves would ensure that the building is funded by OPA members in the future as well as in the present.
Funding the replacement of the Country Club, however, was a different story requiring a significant amount of both logistical and financial creativity and Thompson expected it to go over with the crowd less well than the Yacht Club plan.
“Don’t hang me today,” he said as he prepared to lay out his plan. “Just think about it.”
The concept for the golf course — always a sore spot with OPA members anyway — was tied up into the Country Club’s replacement.
As the initial concept stands, the Country Club would become the primary year-round dining facility for Ocean Pines.
It would be totally rebuilt with less but more efficient seating than either the current Country Club or the upstairs section of the proposed Yacht Club and designed in such a way as to allow three sections of potential seating.
In addition to being able to close off the proposed bar area for service if the Country Club is hosting a private event, there will be a main room and a smaller dining area each able to be closed off or combined depending upon the size of a booked function.
“I think it’s wrong to consider it just for golf,” he said. “It’s for everyone’s use.”
The business plan includes being more aggressive in attracting corporate retreats, highlighting the opportunities for company golf outings or tournaments as well as meeting space for the after events.
The redesigned Country Club will be an attractive place to hold day-long corporate meetings even when they don’t include golf.
The price tag is an estimated $3.4 million and the funding mechanism relies on big changes both to the association as well as to its golf course.
The bulk of that cost — $2 million — Thompson suggested could be raised by selling more lots.
Whether the OPA’s existing lots are worth $2 million did not come into play because the centerpiece of Thompson’s plan is to create 10 more and sell them off in blocks he hopes the OPA can net at $200,000 apiece.
Under this vision, the lots would be created along the waterway near hole 10 and hole 18 would need to be completely restructured.
The solution is, in part, also a result of an impending bridge replacement. In order to begin replacing one of the bridges slated for renovation, the OPA will have to establish a temporary road so there is egress for residents on the bridge’s far side.
Since it is likely that the road will have to disturb the golf course in some way, Thompson suggested that the road could be made permanent, thereby giving access to the lots to be created for sale.
The proposal received mixed reaction from those in attendence, with some in full support, pointing out that in addition to the sale of the lots, the OPA would be able to increase its assessment income without raising assessments.
Golfers were concerned that the significant changes proposed would disqualify the course as a Robert Trent Jones Designed Course. Robert Trent Jones is a famous golf course architect.
Thompson expects more direction from the board at the Dec. 20 meeting. If approved, the measures could go out for referendum as early as this summer with construction of the Yacht Club to begin September 2012.