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


Several Pines residents move to stall Manklin construction

(Sept. 10, 2015) A movement to stop construction of Manklin Meadows Racquet Center, an Ocean Pines recreation and parks expansion, has been developing over the last several weeks.
Approved by the board of directors and set to go up soon near the South Gate, the expansion is being challenged by a growing number of residents led by bartender Tammy Fultz and glass artist Holden Becker.
Becker, an Ellicott City native, moved to Ocean Pines three years and is a resident artist and instructor at the Art League of Ocean City.
He said he became concerned when he found out about the $250,000 project to renovate the courts.
“They want to move to the only good playground equipment in the Pines that’s not really falling apart and dangerous,” he said. “We just hope it’s going to stay on the south side, because otherwise all the playground equipment will only be on the north side.
“So many people take their dogs to the dog park and let their kids go to the playground, or just take them to that playground because it’s one of the best in the Pines. That’s a concern for a lot of people,” Becker added.
What really struck him, he said, was how small the contingent was that lobbied for tennis and pickleball expansion.
“The larger number of people who want the new pickleball courts are ‘friends of the Pines,’” he said. “These are people that live in Delaware and apparently no one in that region has any of these pickleball courts, and they want them. So they want us to build them – and we’re paying for it.”
Becker said Fultz was part of a group of residents who wanted the dog park several years ago and were forced to raise a large portion of the money to pay to “put a fence around two sections of grass.”
“It’s a little ridiculous that they want to drop this quarter million on pickleball courts,” he said. “I realize it’s an up-and-coming game. I realize that there is a need in the area for it, but I also know that we don’t tend to charge people outside the Pines what we need to charge them to make up the money.
“There was no feasibility study done, there was no community impact study done, and they don’t have a great track record after the yacht club – and the splash pad at the swim and racquet club – of large construction projects,” Becker added.
Hoping to delay the tennis expansion, Becker said Fultz is speaking with county planning and zoning officials, while he has set up a meeting with an attorney on Wednesday, after press time.
“The question comes down to whether or not we can get an attorney that will help us at least put a stay on construction until we can get a feasibility study done to make sure that it benefits Ocean Pines residents,” he said. “Then we can make the money to have a three-to-five year break-even plan on the construction, and hopefully the income coming in would pay for the maintenance.”
Becker said support on social media has been strong, although he can’t be sure how much that would translate into real-world support. The group set up a meeting to gauge interest at Taylor’s at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
“I know that, verbally, we have a great deal of people who do not like the idea, but we don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “We do know that there are many people that are up in arms about it. The question is, do they want to be involved?”
The goal is to set up an online petition to form a referendum that would stay construction, Becker said.
“That’s different than what the board is used to and I’m sure their attorneys are going to have a field day trying to discredit it, but I want to do it online because I want the part-timers to be able to sign it,” Becker said. “I’m really tired of feeling like we’re living in a community that’s designed for and run by retirees.
“The important thing for us is we don’t have any personal projects that we want done – we just want to make sure that things are done fairly for and aimed at all OP residents, or the greater good, as opposed to these little pet projects,” Becker added.