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OPA, Landscapes Unlimited close in on golf contract

(April 16, 2015) After months of often grueling debate over switching golf course management companies in Ocean Pines, the community association’s board of directors is nearing a final vote to approve a contract with Landscapes Unlimited.
The vote, which could take place this week, would bring Landscapes Unlimited in to replace former management company Billy Casper Golf.
The 36-month contract includes management of the course as well as the clubhouse, Tern Grill, the cart facility and the maintenance building. Ocean Pines would pay Landscapes a base management fee of $6,500 per month with an annual three percent increase. A contingent management fee of 10 percent would be paid annually on any improvement over the original budget projection of a $100,000 loss.
The contract would include an opt-out clause, beginning in fiscal year 2017, if the Nebraska-based company misses budgetary projections by more than $50,000.
“That begins in June 2017 if they fail to meet the annual budget,” Board Parliamentarian Tom Terry said. “The budget [Landscapes] got was not one they got to work on. This coming year, this was a budget that they inherited. They basically will be held accountable for their own budget in 2016-17.”
The board was expected to vote on the contract via email with a deadline of Wednesday, April 15. The result of the vote was unknown as of press time.
A four-person committee, including Terry, Board President Dave Stevens, Treasurer Jack Collins and General Manager Bob Thompson, drafted the contract with representatives from Landscapes Unlimited.
“I think things are headed in the right direction,” Collins said on Tuesday. “Each of the board members will be asked to review the contract. Since I’ve been intimately involved in the generation of the contract it will be a very simple thing for me to review, so I’m satisfied. I’m positive on the contract.”
Collins said “a citizen group outside of the committee” also had input on the contract.
“They reviewed it and many of their recommendations were incorporated in the contract, which LU agreed to,” Collins said, adding legal council for both parties also reviewed the documents.
“It was a give and take, but I must say Landscapes Unlimited has been exceptionally cooperative in this whole process, and they have indicated to us that they are dedicated to make this thing work to the best of their ability with all hands on deck,” he said.
Collins added the community’s golf council would have a meeting with representatives from Landscapes on Wednesday.
“The contract is not signed, but my sense is that it will be signed very soon.”
There was some debate within the board as to whether the email vote on the contract, or the email vote on whether to hold an email vote, had to be unanimous in order to proceed.
OPA Vice President Marty Clarke said the vote on the contract itself would have to include unanimous consent from the board or else go to an open session.
“The vote’s got to be unanimous or open session, there’s no in-between,” Clarke said, adding he believed the vote did not “in any way, shape or form” constitute a closed session.
“Any one director [with a ‘no’ vote] could stop it, but the point is this turnover [from Casper to Landscapes] is in two weeks,” Clarke said. “These guys need to start hiring people.”
Terry, meanwhile, insisted the directors would have to unanimously agree to the email vote itself, not the actual contract.
“In order for the board to do an electronic vote, every member of the board has to agree to vote that way,” Terry said. “If one person says, ‘No, I want a meeting where we’re all in the room,’ then it’s a requirement that everybody get in the room.”
Terry said he did not have any objections to the email vote.
“I’ve used it when I was president,” he said. “For things like this between meetings when everyone has a chance to review the contract and call Dave or Jack or myself and get their questions answered, I don’t have a problem. Nor would I have an objection if someone said, ‘Hey, I really want to get in the room.’
“I don’t think there’s going to be any problem with it,” Terry added.