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Directors still debating facility-use policy in Pines

(May 28, 2015) The 17-member group examining how community organizations can use certain Ocean Pines amenities gave a major presentation at last Wednesday’s board of directors work session that detailed its several months of work and its proposed policy on facility use.
What comes next, however, is unclear as it the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors are debating the group’s findings.
“It was just a working session, which, really not everybody understood,” Board President Dave Stevens said. “Coming out of it, what I thought about it was there were a lot of important, unanswered questions.”
Chief among those, in Stevens’ view, is what kind of data the group used as a foundation for its recommendations, including establishing how much different groups would have to pay to use the facilities.
“The answer to that was, ‘Yeah, it’s some place handwritten,’ I think,” Stevens said. “[board member] Tom Terry’s comment that ‘We’re not building a business case’ –  no we’re not.  We’re trying to develop a reasonable policy. However, if you’re going to reference the fact that you’re trying to look at cost or use as some kind of a measure, then you really should start with what are the real numbers. I think that’s important even if Tom doesn’t.”
Stevens suggested such details could “reveal whether or not you’re arguing about a small percentage of the issues or problems, or whether it’s a big one.”
“That to me is so obvious that I shouldn’t have to talk about it,” Stevens said.
Terry countered that the community center is not a profit center and placed less emphasis on the specificity of the data.
“It’s important that we not lose track of that,” he said. “That had nothing to do with the group that did the research. I think they handled it exactly right. This is not the swimming pools or the beach club – this is a community center that is not measured by the same formula, in my opinion anyway.”
Terry said the group did, “an excellent job of working through a very complex issue.”
“I realize all the work isn’t done, but I thought they did a great job of finding all the issues that needed to be addressed and coming up with an interesting way of addressing the challenge to make it fair and equitable to be able to use our facilities,” he said.
During several recent board meetings, the directors discussed how the association treated nonprofit and charity groups when they want to use a community facility, with the board going as far as voting to refund several hundred dollars to Star Charities, a group that paid to use the community center during a fundraiser for area veterans.
The draft released by the committee last week defined seven different groups: community groups, civic groups, social groups, business groups, board advisory committees, special interest groups and OPA HOA’s, but it was unclear where nonprofits or charitable groups would fit into the definitions.
“We’ll call it the Anna [Foultz] problem,” Stevens said, referring to Star Charities’ founder. “It’s just one of the unanswered questions that are really pertinent, and they’re realty important. I don’t know how, given the amount of time that group’s been working on it, that wasn’t addressed.”
Terry, for the most part, agreed.
“We still have to work through the definition around charities,” he said. “That category has not yet been defined completely. They have to work through that. Other than that, I thought they handed it pretty well.
“I think they need to stay on track with what they’re doing,” Terry added. “They’re in the right direction.”
Stevens did praise the committee, saying, “They obviously worked very hard,” but said he did not have a specific timetable in mind for a resolution.
“They did touch on some issues,” he said. “Whether or not the formulas they used are really executable remains to be seen. [General Manager] Bob [Thompson] asked for board feedback, but I’m not going to give him any unless I get the rest of the information. I don’t want to give him feedback on what’s obviously just a partial answer.
“I think the committee had a very difficult job, and I’m certainly not criticizing them,” Stevens added.