By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer
(April 27, 2023) Anyone who drives past Pintail Park has seen the extensive bulkhead replacement work being done in Ocean Pines, as old wooden bulkheads are being replaced with vinyl.
“With switching from wood to vinyl bulkheading over the last several years, the life expectancy of bulkheads has increased from 30 to 50 years,” General Manager John Viola said.
In total, Ocean Pines maintains just under 98,000 linear feet of bulkheads. It replaces 2,000 linear feet each year, with work scheduled to begin on or about Sept. 1 and be completed around May 1 each year.
“This schedule is subject to change depending on weather conditions, the availability of materials, if the contractor is pulled for an emergency, or if Ocean Pines needs the contractor for another project,” Viola said.
“The cost to replace a bulkhead has increased drastically over the last few years, from $365 per linear feet in 2021 to $425 per linear feet on the contract approved by the OPA board in December 2022.”
Bulkhead replacement is completed in three-year increments, which includes time needed to obtain permits required by the state, the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers, and the county before work can begin.
Ocean Pines evaluates all the bulkheads with the engineering firm, Vista. The association just completed a three-year plan. The overall plan is part of the DMA reserve study and also part of Ocean Pines Strategic Plan.
The vinyl bulkheads take up more room than the current wood bulkheads, as they are corrugated, leading to an increase in yard size and a loss of canal space.
Because bulkhead replacement is necessary to maintaining both the property and the waterways, property owners on the water have to accept that part of that package is having to accommodate the job’s engineering needs instead of the contractor having to work around their own individual situations.
“In certain circumstances, boat lifts do need to be pulled out and are the responsibility of the homeowner to remove,” Viola said.
In addition to the removal of the docks and lift, landscaping walkways, trees, or any other objects that are in the 15-foot easement area may need to be removed.
Although bulkhead replacement is usually done from a barge in the water, in some situations work needs to be done in the easement area.
“The contractor will attempt to work around trees whenever possible,” Viola said.
The homeowner can hire a contractor of their choice to remove these items prior to bulkhead replacement or can work with the Ocean Pines contractor doing the bulkhead replacement.
Each property is different, so homeowners should contact Public Works to find out what needs and does not need to be removed.
Public Works mails out letters yearly to those that will be affected by the bulkhead replacement. Property owners receive the letter six months out from the time work is to begin.
Property owners should contact Public Works to confirm any questions that they have regarding the bulkhead replacement.
“The contractor takes approximately two weeks per lot. This is over a period of time – not two weeks straight work, as the installation of bulkhead is in stages,” Viola said.
“Once the new bulkhead is installed, Ocean Pines will have a contractor stabilize the area and lay sod. If homeowners had stone prior to the bulkhead replacement, they can request Ocean Pines not to lay the sod, but the homeowner is responsible for putting the stone back in.”