OCEAN PINES — A referendum vote next month on the proposed Yacht Club project is the only factor barring the initiation of construction of a new building.
During a special board meeting last Friday, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors unanimously approved the bid sent by Harkins Contracting, Inc. of Salisbury to build a new Yacht Club for a total of $4.3 million.
The decision came after a regularly scheduled board of directors meeting the previous week in which OPA General Manager Bob Thompson presented his personal recommendations to the board on which bids were most reasonable to consider.
Despite Thompson’s support for Lehman Construction Services, Inc. for a $4 million new building, the board instead accepted the costlier bid.
No single board member was interested in renovating the existing building, as the proposal to renovate was unanimously rejected by the board.
“It makes a lot more sense to replace the structure because there are too many people depending on it,” said board member Ray Unger.
When asked during public comments why board members didn’t follow Thompson’s recommendation, the board cited the impressiveness of Harkins Contracting’s proposal.
“When Bob [Thompson] made his presentation, it was clear who can build this competently: either Lehman [Construction Services] or Harkins [Contracting],” said board Secretary Dan Stachurski.
Left with three rebuilding proposals, it was up to each board member to compare the remaining bids.
According to the board, there were too many important items missing in the bid from Gillis Gilkerson, Inc., and company’s bid was not considered as a realistic option.
When comparing the two final bids, the impressiveness of the project proposal by Harkins Contracting won over the board.
Additionally, it was noted at the meeting that Harkins Contracting was much more experienced than Lehman Construction Services in constructing big-budget projects.
It was stated at the meeting that Harkins Contracting earns about $40 million a year, while Lehman Construction Services earns about $6 million in revenue annually.
“If I had to build with my own money, I would select Harkins [Contracting],” said Thompson.
Until the referendum results are finalized, Thompson may start spending money on small preparations. Up to $172,000, about 2 percent of the entire project, may be spent without any approval by homeowners.
Funding for the project will come from the five-year funding plan put in place by the board four years ago to improve the community’s major facilities.
As of May 1, 2012, $1.3 million was in the fund. If the FY 2014 budget is passed, which would raise yearly homeowners’ property assessments by $26, there will be $4.6 million in the fund by May 1, 2015.
The OPA will not pay for the new building in full if the referendum passes, but will make separate small payments over time.
Before referendum ballots are mailed to Ocean Pines homeowners, a public hearing will take place at the Community Center next to White Horse Park at 9 a.m. to discuss plans with homeowners.
After ensuring project plans coincide with homeowners’ wants, referendum ballots will be mailed on Aug. 10, and must be received by the OPA by Sept. 6.
For more information on the current Yacht Club project and to view the layout drawn by Harkins Contracting, visit http://oceanpines.org.