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OPA discussing North Gate e-sign

By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer

The Ocean Pines Communications Committee is working on putting together a presentation for the Board of Directors on its proposal for replacing the analog sign at the North Gate entrance with an electric sign. Supporters say it’d be a big improvement for emergency messaging and staff safety while others are skeptical that it might be a frivolous desire.

(Oct. 6, 2022) On the recommendation of the Ocean Pines Communications Committee, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors last Saturday began discussing the installation of an electronic sign at North Gate.

Committee liaison Steve Jacobs said that the committee has fielded two similar bids that differ only on some specifications and the price, with both hovering around $20,000 and one about $1,000 more than the other.

“This would be the only sign involved at the time,” Jacobs told his colleagues. “If you recall, the sign at the north entrance currently has a map on the left side and information on the right. This would flip it.”

The committee, he said, is prepared to arrange for a presentation with a manufacturer for the board.

“The communications committee does have an interest in at least getting this on the radar for the upcoming budget, which is why we have the charging document today,” Jacobs said.

Opinions from the board were split on the matter.

“In the past, the committee has said (such a sign) could be used for emergency notifications, but that didn’t work out,” Director Frank Daly said. “It looks like it’s nothing more than ‘We don’t like the old and we want something new,’ which I perfectly understand. I go through that in my house all the time.

“It would take years to recover the $21,000 we’re going to spend to change, to get the same message to people. So I don’t see it as timely.”

Daly also suggested that the email messaging system the association uses for emergencies should still be sufficient.

“There are other things we don’t do that we can spend $21,000 on. That’s the bottom line for this,” he said.

Director Colette Horn was more concerned about staff safety.

“The process of changing that message involves a staff member opening up the front of that case, which weighs who knows how many pounds and propping it up with a two-by-four to swap out those letters,” she said.

“I don’t like seeing our staff members out there with the traffic, going back and forth, wrestling with a two-by-four to make it possible to put that message up. I think (this one sign) is a good field test (for all the other signs) they’re wrestling with in this old-fashioned messaging approach.”

Director Stuart Lakernick backed Daly in describing this as a want, not a need, and suggested they look into simply improving the analog signage.

“If safety is a concern, why not have Public Works put a hinge on the lid and fix that?” he asked.

The discussion circled back to Jacobs, who said he respects everyone’s opinions but reminded them that the discussion is about the need for an organized presentation, not a decision — something on which Daly, Horn and Lakernick all agreed.

“At this point, all the committee is seeking is the opportunity to make a suitable presentation with the appropriate expertise to the board,” he said. “It may not change opinions one way or the other. But my understanding is this sort of presentation has not been done.”

Daly added that he wants all avenues explored by the committee.

“The Communications Committee should understand, from my point of view, when we’re talking bout $21,000 — and I appreciate the safety concern — somebody better be prepared to tell me what it would cost to retrofit the signs to make them safe compared to $21,000,” he said.

At the end of the discussion, General Manager John Viola said he and his staff would look into the safety concerns.