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


GM team keeps OP running on all fronts  

A sketch of the proposed new Southside Fire House was presented at the September OPA Board meeting

Viola highlights staffing, maintenance of amenities and future big ticket items  

By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer

(Oct. 5, 2023) Ocean Pines Association General Manager John Viola reported the highlights of the last month to the board of directors at its session on Saturday.

He noted that Michelle Hitchens has been promoted to aquatics manager, reporting to Linda Martin after the departure of Kathleen Cook. Hitchens has been with Ocean Pines for 11 years, during which she coordinated aquatics exercise classes and programs, taught classes and supervised instructors and generally helped the department run smoothly.

“She is clearly hitting the ground running,” Viola said.

Viola said Hitchens has talked to him about her plans to expand on the exercise and swim lessons now offered.

He reminded residents that the beach parking will be open until the end of October. While the club is closed, porta-potties and sprinklers will be available until the club is winterized in November.

Viola said software provider NorthStar is on schedule for training in November and going live in December with EZ Links integration. NorthStar is also helping the association customize its online membership based on membership type.

Viola has put together a work group on the fire department’s plans for a new building. The work group will make recommendations to the board on how to proceed with the replacement of the building.

He said a firm will assess the building and he hopes the three original bays on the building are sound, which would save in construction costs. The fire department would like to add two bays to house more fire fighting vehicles in a new building.

Viola will give at least three options on funding for the building with a recommendation to the board. He plans to have a presentation ready for the October board meeting.

He continued to remind residents that the golf course is only for golfers and that residents are not allowed to walk, ride their bikes, or fish in the ponds on the golf course.

Bathroom maintenance was a priority last month, with bathrooms painted and repaired at the yacht club marina, club pool, swim and racquet club pool, White Horse Park, Mumford’s and the Sports Core pools. The costs came to $34,000.

A recreational crabbing pier and kayak launch were installed in Pintail Park in September. Kayak racks have also been placed in the park. The costs amounted to approximately $104,000. Contact the Parks and Rec department for information on renting a rack space.

Public Works has ordered a massive trimmer that will cut ditch banks and trim large branches off of trees and bushes, automating a manual process, which will help with the labor issue. The trimer costs $21,000.

Racquet sports have gotten a lot of attention recently.

“We have been dedicated to improving the racquet center since 2019,” Viola said. “We have had a program for sizable maintenance and replacement every year and allocated a full time person down there to do maintenance.”

Pickleball has received a shade structure, sidewalk, sod and swale cleanup. A new patio was laid around the Paddle Ball courts, and the parking lot has been sealed and lined. The costs amounted to about $35,000 since June.

Two picnic tables were added to the Veterans Memorial near the water at the request of the Rec and Parks advisory committee.

Linda Martin announced that 17 mailboxes and 81 pedestals have been replaced as part of Phase 1 of the replacement project since last July. Cleaning of other mailboxes will resume in October.

During the meeting, John Latham, the secretary for the board said that the board unanimously voted via email to increase the general manager’s spending limit from $15,000- 25,000.

The board also approved replacement of the wing walls of the bridge on Club House Road over the canal for $149,500.