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Stevens, Collins reignite golf debate on Ocean Pines BOD

(Nov. 5, 2015) If last Thursday’s board meeting is any indication, the golf debate in Ocean Pines is far from over.
Less than a year after the OPA Board voted 4-3 to oust Billy Casper Golf and install Landscapes Unlimited as course management, several directors are asking whether Landscapes has fulfilled its promises towards transparency.
According to Director Dave Stevens, the community’s contract with the company contained several reporting provisions due not later than Oct.15. Stevens said that included a draft of a business plan to be reviewed by the board and the general manager.
“After review and modification … the business plan shall be submitted for including in the budget and it shall include an operations plan, a maintenance plan, a food and beverage plan, sale and marketing plan and a membership plan,” Stevens said, apparently reading directly from the contract during the public meeting in the Ocean Pines Community Center.
“My question is did we get that information on Oct. 15?” Stevens asked.
General Manager Bob Thompson said that information was delivered to him and given to board liaison Bill Cordwell. He added that the documents did not require board action, and were therefore not sent directly to all of the directors.
“My job is to provide it to the board liaison, which I’ve done,” Thompson said.
Stevens, however, was not satisfied.
“I don’t know about the other members of the board, [but] I think we have several that would like to see that information,” Stevens said. “We would like to have those plans.”
Stevens said there were other meetings, referred to in the contract, that he was interested in as well, including quarterly meetings where the golf company’s senior management would speak with “up to three” designated representatives from the board of directors.
“I do not know that our board has designated three representatives to go to that meeting, or whether or not that meeting has been held,” he said.
Thompson said the meeting was scheduled for early November. The designated board members, he added, were board President Pat Renaud, Cordwell and Tom Terry.
“What authority gives the president the right to designate who those representatives are going to be without even a discussion in front of the board? I do not believe he has that authority,” Stevens said. “I suggest we schedule that [discussion].
“We have a new contractor [and] we’re trying our best to make that contract successful, and what you have as our liaison to that contractor is three people who are adamantly opposed [to the company],” Stevens added, noting that Cordwell and Terry voted against hiring Landscapes. “To take those three people and say that this is the way we’re going to get along with this new contractor is just plain ludicrous. It’s not fair representation.”
During his tenure as board president, Stevens said, he presented the names of three board representatives to the other directors in a similar situation with Casper and asked for objections. Moreover, he suggested, his representatives were more familiar with golf than those Renaud appointed.
“Was there a board meeting that ‘unappointed’ them or was that just done arbitrarily?” he asked.
Stevens then turned to Casper, insisting that its lack of transparency ultimately led to the company’s dismissal.
“Over four years of our past contract, we received little or no information from what was going on,” he said. “We never had – except during the budget time when they brought the suits – we never had a face-to-face meeting [with Casper].”
Director Tom Terry disagreed, saying Casper and the board met at least once in the county club before Stevens’ tenure, which started in Aug. 2014 and included one term as board president.
Thompson also called Stevens’ comments “factually inaccurate.”
“You’ve been provided an opportunity to see the information as board president. I tried to share it with you multiple times,” he said. “To say we didn’t receive the information is just not [true].”
The bottom line, according to Director Jack Collins, was that the new management contract was written to give both the board and the membership more information and access.
“That was the spirit of that contract,” he said. “I don’t see a problem why it can’t be opened up to all the members of the board and all the members of the golf community, as well as the community in general,” he said. “Why can’t that be televised, like this particular meeting is being televised, so that the members of golf community can realize who they have as a manager?
“I think that is really, really healthy and extremely democratic and very, very useful,” Collins added.
Stevens warned that, if the relationship between the board and Landscapes did not improve, the community could see a “repeat of Casper.”
“I think the situation is completely unsatisfactory right now,” he said.
Reached for comment on Monday, Renaud said the association is working to set up a meeting with Landscape executives. He did not know if those meetings would be public.