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GM report talks up racquet upgrades, disc golf, T-docks

Photo courtesy Ocean Pines Association
Rendering for additional boat slips at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club intended as non-rentals for visitors. The docks, originally proposed nearly two years ago, were completed last month and are awaiting a few minor parts before being ready for use.

By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer

New business including racquet sports upgrades, disc golf and new mailboxes were covered in General Manager John Viola’s report to the Ocean Pines Board on May 25.

“In the racquet sports, a lot’s happening down there,” Viola said.

He said there’s a punch list on maintenance and other items that will be addressed.

The pickleball courts have been completed “in-house within budget,” Viola said.

The 10-hole disc golf course at Bainbridge Park is still in a trial period and has cost the Ocean Pines Association nothing so far, Viola said. In the future, if the course is retained, there will be “minimal to no cost.”

The association held a town hall for community opinion on the course on May 21, which Viola described as “well represented.”

“I will evaluate as time goes on and so will (Recreation and Parks Director) Debbie (Donahue) and we’ll get feedback,” he said. “Berlin did it on a trial basis for a year, they made a few adjustments, some that we’re already making such as where we’re going to position these metal baskets and we’ll go from there.”

A walkthrough of the course was scheduled last week for homeowners.

Viola also reported that Public Works recently installed floating planters on both sides of the North Gate Pond.

The planters help with nutrient and algae control, Viola said. They’re also a resting place for turtles and cover for fish.

Viola said that the $1,000 planters will be installed in other ponds “if all goes well.”

Viola said he hopes that drainage projects will conclude by the end of June.

“Over a year ago, we had the grant and did the pond filtration,” he said. “That’s all completed, all positive all around. However, the pipes on the three main roads have not been completed. We have to work in conjunction with the county, and with covid, supplies and the contractors, there have been some delays.”

“Our whole plan on maintenance is to get these pipes fixed which haven’t been addressed in 20, 30, 40 years. The pipe liners, the way they go as far as work, a dollar amount is way cheaper. Instead of maintaining them, once we put them in, I won’t have to maintain them. It is coming out of the reserve for drainage, so that is a shift we will have to do going forward.”

Over at the Swim and Racquet Club, the roof is scheduled to be replaced and the exterior was painted last week. The makeover work will be evaluated at the end of the summer.

T-docks have been built and Viola said the association is waiting on floats that go under the docks. That should take six weeks. The construction cost is $65,000.

A and D docks will be used for the new water taxi that transports people from Ocean Pines to Ocean City.

Fifty-five mailbox sites have been evaluated, Viola said.

“I am going to have favorability,” he said. “Some of this favorability or a nice piece of it is the mailboxes that I believed as tasked by the board that I would have maintained over the last few months or the last period.”

Viola will present to the board bids for replacing mailboxes and pedestals. Concrete will be addressed and done in-house.

Regarding recommended surplus allocation, Viola prefaced with the fact that $650,000 was taken out of “realized favorability” for FY21.

“We’re in the same position now,” he said.

The association was $1.6 million “in the hole” in FY18, which has been “well-publicized,” Viola said.

“Where we are now, what I’m saying at the end of this Fiscal Year ’22 — obviously the books aren’t close (yet) — but we’ll be at ($3.1 million. We were at $1.6 million) unfavorable before we all started.”

“So that ($3.1 million estimated for FY22), what we did last year on the top there, the one-time assessment, I needed $650,000 out of last year’s favorability to get that assessment to (896). We put that in there and the board approved that we’d have this plus-minus account so that if we did have favorability we could lower the assessment.

If the association’s revenues remain unfavorable, the board and Viola would have to decide on how to cover and increase the assessment over time or a one-shot deal, Viola said.

“I certainly don’t anticipate that in the near future,” he said.

“If you look at where we are today, if you want to put another $350,000 into roads — and that’s in addition to the $300,000 we normally put into the assessment to do the three miles — that $350,000 plus the $350,000 that’ll be in there now, we’re up around $700,000 of that cushion or surplus that everyone asked me to do,” Viola said.

Viola pointed out that the pickleball courts weren’t in the budget and they could have used maintenance money for it, but it was recommended to the board to take those funds out of the surplus.

“It’s all planned. It’s all transparent. It’s just timing,” Viola said. “We’re still projecting a surplus of $900,000.”

This story appears in the print version of Bayside Gazette on May 26, 2022.