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


Ocean Pines reviews policy on facility usage for groups

(May 21, 2015) The Ocean Pines Board of Directors met with the facility use group on Wednesday to discuss how nonprofits and other groups would use the community’s amenities.
The proposal under discussion would affect Resolution M-02 in Ocean Pines, governing amenity policy.
According to documents provided during the meeting, the community receives more than 1,800 annual requests to use Ocean Pines facilities.
General Manager Bob Thompson led the discussion, with input from seven people from the 17-member committee.
“This issue that we thought was a quick and easy solution just kept getting deeper and deeper,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the original committee included himself and residents Sonya Bounds, Jessica Conway and Carol Ludwig. The group first met on Sept. 11, 2014 to give committee members an overview. The second and third meetings occurred last October.
During the second meeting, the group realized the subject was too big for four people to tackle, Thompson said. Carol Quinto, Barbara Kissel, Frank Creamer and Marie Gilmore were then added to group.
The committee then began to develop a series of questions that needed to be addressed, Thompson said, while also working to define the different categories of groups in Ocean Pines.
In November, the committee met three times, discussing possible reactions to proposed changes, and how the community could treat groups fairly regardless of size. The committee also met three times in December, finalizing definitions and categories of groups.
Two more meetings took place in January, and a first draft was prepared in February.
In April, an expanded group of 17 met to work on the final draft.
The draft unveiled during the Wednesday’s meeting established seven categories in Ocean Pines: community groups, civic groups, social groups, business groups, board advisory committees, special interest groups and “OPA HOA’s.”
The exact placement of nonprofit groups was “uncertain” based on the draft, Thompson said.
“We tried to avoid crafting a definition around a [specific] group,” Thompson said.
Under the draft, special interest and business groups would pay to use facilities. Other groups would not, as long as they fulfilled volunteer hour requirements. Community and civic groups would have to provide five volunteer hours per member per year and social groups would be required to volunteer three hours per member per year. Board advisory committees and HOAs would not have to provide volunteer hours, and paid groups would be exempted entirely.
Monetary contributions to Ocean Pines would reduce volunteer hour requirements under the draft, ranging from $25-$99 dollars, allowing a five percent reduction, to donations of $1,000 and more, allowing a 20 percent reduction.
Community, civic and social groups would be capped at 52 meetings per year, with a maximum of four hours per meeting. Board advisory groups would be allowed 12 meetings each year, two hours per meeting, HOAs would be allowed two annual four-hour meetings, and special interest groups would be allowed 12 three-hour meetings.
Business groups would not be limited, but would be subject to availability of facilities.
Ludwig said the committee approached a variety of property owners, both residents and nonresidents, in putting together the task force. Thompson added that releasing the draft would allow nonresidents a chance to weigh in before a formal board vote.  
Several board members asked Thompson for a comprehensive list of usage requests.
“Who used it, how much did they use it, and how much, if anything, did they pay for it?” Board President Dave Stevens said. “I want to know what database you were working from.”
Thompson agreed to provide that information during the next regular board meeting, adding, “we had a list of organizations, the meetings, the number of times they requested to use the facilities.” That data apparently did not include recreation and parks activities.
Several members of the board took issue with the definitions of the groups, suggesting some political groups could be defined as community or civic groups, and not charged for facilities because of the number of residents in the group.
Other political groups, whose membership did not meet group definitions, would be charged for facility usage.  
No formal vote was made on the draft.
“I think this shows a lot of work and a lot of appreciation,” Board Secretary Pat Renaud said.