GM and Operations Director deliver numerous project updates; Board approves new Mediacom contract and negotiations for compensation study
General Manager John Viola and Operations Director Colby Phillips offered updates on nearly two-dozen different ongoing projects and initiatives.
“There’s a lot going on,” Viola said.
He said implementation of the new NorthStar software was on track thanks to the leadership of IT Manager Steve Grabowski and Finance Director Steve Phillips, as well as the efforts of several workgroups. Grabowski is also looking into adding guest Wi-Fi at the Yacht Club.
Workgroups, for Viola, have been a favorite method of tackling big issues and projects.
“Without those workgroups and without the team effort … I don’t think we can get this done. But, we are getting it done and we’re on track,” Viola said, adding the NorthStar project alone “would normally be an initiative for a year.”
Viola said construction of the new Golf clubhouse remains on track and on budget, as does the expansion of the Ocean Pines Police headquarters. He added the new Golf cart barn was likely to come in under budget.
“We’ll know more within the next month, but I like what I’m seeing on that,” he said.
Work groups are also assisting with the Matt Ortt Companies contract negotiations to manage food and beverage operations, and Viola credited Executive Secretary Michelle Bennett for leading a compensation study workgroup.
Viola said construction of the new Craft Club building was likely to begin later this month. He recognized Recreation and Parks Program Supervisor Debbie Donahue for her work on that project, as well as on the installation of the new White Horse Park playground in June. The latter project finished $600 under budget.
The crabbing pier demolition is also likely to occur in July, Viola said, with Public Works Operations Manager Nobie Violante helping to lead that effort.
At the Ocean Pines Golf Course, Viola praised Course Superintendent Andre Jordan and Golf Director John Malinowski for successful upkeep and operations that have so far this fiscal year finished in the black.
Viola said Steve Phillips and Accounts Payable supervisor Geraldine Tate were working on the annual audit, while Colby Phillips is leading workgroups and teams of employees in the areas of bulkhead maintenance, dredging and drainage.
Four companies are currently working on bulkhead repairs, with projects on Eastern Mallard finished and Ebb Tide about halfway done. Work will move next to the Pintail area, with Fisher Marine Construction Inc expected to finish bulkhead repairs along West Mallard within the next two weeks, Colby Phillips said. All four projects are currently under budget.
Going forward, Phillips said, Ocean Pines “will not be doing bulkhead [work] … during the summertime.”
“Right now, we’re just trying to complete contracts that were already in place, so we can get those done,” she said. “Going forward, we will not have that issue.”
On drainage, Phillips said one bid was received for the planned pipe replacement on Watertown Road, but the association would seek additional bids before bringing the project to Viola and the board. She added pipe replacement on Boston Road had been completed.
“While we have the dry weather now, this is the best time to get the ditches cleared out,” Phillips said. “We have Atlantic Stone Walls coming in to help us with some of our larger ditches that have to be done by hand, and [the company] will be starting on Burr Hill this coming week.”
She added Ocean Pines had submitted for a dredging permit, as well as a permit to fence in the new White Horse Park playground, and a new shade structure at the Manklin Meadows Racquet Sports Complex is close to finished.
Phillips said Public Works finished 14 of 34 drainage workorders during June. The department fielded 142 total workorders during the month, with 107 being completed. Public Works crews are also mowing the grass at Ocean Pines’ facilities, easements and parks.
Phillips said Ocean Pines’ pools have been extremely busy of late. Addressing a resident concern about outside use of the pools, she said 1,803 guests used the Yacht Club pool between Monday and Friday this week, with only 132 being nonresidents. At the Mumford’s Landing pool, 1,492 guests used the pools, 127 of which were nonresidents.
“Our residents [and pool members] are using the pools, which is great,” she said.
Phillips credited Donahue and a partnership between Ocean Pines Recreation and Parks, Public Works and Police – as well as numerous other local and neighboring public safety agencies – with a successful slate of Fourth of July events, including a carnival and fireworks at Veterans Memorial Park.
“We are very happy with how the event came out and we’ll be looking again to do that again the next year,” Phillips said.
To view the full Operations Report, visit https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=875.
Association President Doug Parks encouraged people to attend a July 11 public meeting about the proposed North Gate roundabout, to be led by the Maryland Department of Transportation.
The meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. in the Ocean Pines Community Center on 235 Ocean Parkway.
“If anybody asks, please pass the word. We’d like to get some participation,” Parks said. “There’ll be some questions and answers … [and] you can share your concerns.
“I really encourage everybody who can make it to please attend that meeting,” he added.
To view Parks’ full comments, visit https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=103.
Viola said the association began its fiscal year in May by posting a net operating profit of $202,272 over budget, with revenues $175,341 higher than what was budgeted and expenses $26,931 lower than the budget.
Amenities and departments that beat budget estimates included the Yacht Club ($67,000), Beach Parking ($49,000), Recreation and Parks ($31,000), Public Works ($18,000), Beach Club ($17,000), Golf operations and maintenance ($14,000), General Manager’s office ($13,000), Marinas ($8,000) and Police ($6,000).
Viola said construction at the golf course did not appear to have a noticeable negative impact on operations.
“When you take into account everything that’s going on … in my mind and what I’m reporting is very favorable,” he said. “I understood the concerns. We have done everything possible to ensure a pleasant experience for the golfers and the feedback I’m getting … is that it’s positive.”
Viola also praised the Matt Ortt Companies for their handling of food and beverage operations. The Yacht Club, for example, finished May with a positive net operating balance of $5,025. In May 2018, the Yacht Club finished the month with a negative operating balance of $64,466.
Reserves, as of May 31, totaled $11.5 million, including $7 million in replacement reserves, $3.1 million in bulkhead reserves and $1.4 million in road reserves.
Viola took a moment to recognize Assistant Treasurer Gene Ringsdorf, who will finish his tenure with Ocean Pines at the end of August.
“I just want to thank Gene for all the work and service that he’s given to Ocean Pines,” Viola said.
To view the full Treasurer’s Report, visit: https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=479.
Board members voted 6-0 to “accept the current version of the Mediacom contract that was submitted for review and approval.”
Parks said the contract would allow the association to move forward from the current month-to-month agreement, adding the document was reviewed and negotiated by an Ocean Pines workgroup, as well as attorneys for both parties.
“The new contract provides the same standard services, but also address several important issues, including compliance with federal law regarding the removal of exclusive use of easements and rights of way,” Parks said in a formal motion.
He added it was important for the community to understand the new contract was “not a retail agreement,” but rather “a right-of-way” agreement. He said the FCC forbids exclusive rights for easements and rights of way; therefore, the agreement could open to the door for other vendors.
“I hope it will generate some interest by other service providers,” Parks said. “However, that being said, the incumbent certain has the crux of the market.”
Parks said Ocean Pines received 3 percent of cable television gross revenues under the old agreement. With the new contract, the association will collect 1.6 percent of all Mediacom services provided to the community, including phone, internet and cable television. Parks said he expects the association to net roughly same amount – about $150,000 to $160,000 – under the new contract.
To view the full discussion, visit: https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=3511.
New Business Highlights
Board members voted 6-0 to approve a motion to authorize Viola to negotiate a contract for a compensation study. The item was a late addition to the meeting agenda.
Director Colette Horn, in the formal motion, said the contract was not to exceed $100,000 and would include “analysis of all positions and salaries, [an] external salary survey, benefits study, development of a compensation philosophy, and development of an implementation plan.”
“The purpose and effect is to provide OPA with a current and comprehensive review of our compensation policies approach and philosophy, and a plan for implementation of needed compensation adjustments,” Horn said in the motion.
“In the last two budget cycles, OPA has made decisions impacting benefits and compensation for employees, with the promise to employees and OPA members that a professional compensation study would be conducted to guide present and future decisions,” she added.
Horn said only one vendor responded to a request for proposals, with several others indicating the job was “either was too large for their capabilities, or that their current workload would not accommodate our timeline.” She said the bid was reviewed by an Ocean Pines workgroup and the vendor “has extensive experience doing this type of work for Eastern Shore municipalities,” including Ocean City, Wilmington and Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, and several large homeowners’ associations.
The “not to exceed $100,000” figure is well over the $25,000 budgeted for the study, Horn admitted, “but the workgroup unanimously agreed that it is justified based on need for the scope of services that are proposed.”
Parks and several others said the potential budget overage gave them “sticker shock,” although he suggested several optional items in the agreement could be cut out in order to negotiate down the final price.
“We owe the membership, we owe ourselves, [and] we owe the employees that level of effort to make sure that we fine tune this thing and get it very, very efficient and effective,” he said. “I generally agree with the concept and I will vote for the motion … [with] the caveat that we’re not just signing a check here for 100K.”
To view the full discussion, visit: https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=5268.
Also during New Business, a vote was not taken, but there was a lengthy discussion on “Funding New Capital” led by Director Frank Daly.
Daly, in the formal meeting packet, wrote, “The purpose of this discussion is to discuss the current issue with funding new capital projects – specifically that any new capital goes directly against the operations budget and the annual assessment – and to discuss potential methods of funding new capital that overcomes this issue.
“Any project deemed new capital goes against the operations budget and that directly affects the annual assessment. Every $8,452 dollars of new capital increases the annual assessment by $1. This creates an issue for each and every homeowner suggestion to improve the community if the item suggested is not currently on the association ledgers,” Daly added.
To view the full discussion, visit: https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=3755.
Debbie Smullen from Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services in Berlin spoke about the Worcester Goes Purple campaign “to engage the community in preventing substance abuse and [promote] healthy life choices.”
The initiative is supported by Worcester County Public Schools, the Worcester County Health Department, Atlantic General Hospital, and funding from the U.S. Department of Health’s Heroin and Opioid Policy Development Grant.
“This year, over 100 Maryland citizens have already lost their lives to opioid overdoses,” Smullen said. “It’s important that we understand that addiction is a medical condition, and there is such a stigma involved with addictions that it does prevent people from seeking treatment, and it prevents families from getting the support that they need from friends [and] from the community.”
Smullen added, “addiction does not discriminate by race, gender or social standing.”
She encouraged everyone to properly dispose of unused prescriptions. Old and unwanted prescriptions may be safely discarded at the Ocean Pines Police Department on 239 Ocean Parkway, as well as at Atlantic General Hospital.
Smullen went on to say those in addictions recovery struggle every day.
“It’s said you never own recovery – recovery is something that you have to pay rent [on] and it is due every single day,” she said.
As September is National Recovery Month, she encouraged people in Worcester County to “go purple” in order to show their support. Ocean Pines residents may place Worcester Goes Purple yard signs, hang purple ribbons, or install purple lightbulbs.
Upcoming Worcester Goes Purple events include a July 20 motherhood walk with the Grace Center in Berlin, an Aug. 22 kickoff event at Shorebird Stadium in Salisbury, and a Sept. 7 Walk for Recovery with the Atlantic Club on the Ocean City Boardwalk.
To view the full presentation, visit https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=161.
The Ocean Pines Board took the following actions on CPI (Compliance, Permit and Inspection) violations:
4 Leslie Mews: find in continuing violation; public works will clean up the area and a bill will be sent to the property owner (6-0 vote)
76 Battersea Road: find in continuing violation and send to attorney for action (6-0 vote)
33 Burr Hill Drive: find in continuing violation and send to attorney for action (6-0 vote)
52 Capetown Road: find in continuing violation and send to attorney for action (6-0 vote)
The view the full discussion, visit: https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=3192.
Board members by a 6-0 vote approved the following advisory committee appointments:
Kenneth D. Wolf, Environment and Natural Assets (first term)
Diana Snyder, Communications (first term)
Patricia Seidl, Communications (first term)
Tim McMullen, Recreation and Parks (three-year extension)
Tres Denk, Recreation and Parks (three-year extension)
Gerald Horn, Marine Activities (chairman)
To view the appointments, visit: https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=6558.
Meeting Video and Notes
To view the entire meeting video, visit https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0.
Links for specific agenda topics are as follows:
Call to Order – Doug Parks, President https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=9
Pledge of Allegiance – All https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=10
Approval of Agenda – Board https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=37
Approval of Minutes https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=64
June l, 2019 – Regular Meeting
June 6, 2019 – Special Meeting
President’s Remarks – Doug Parks, President https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=103
Worcester Youth & Family Counseling Services – Debbie Smullen https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=161
Treasurer’s Report – John Viola https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=479
Operations Report – John Viola and Colby Phillips https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=875
Public Comments https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=1470
Capital Purchases Requests – None
CPI Violations https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=3192
4 Leslie Mews
76 Battersea Rd.
33 Burr Hill Dr.
52 Capetown Rd.
Unfinished Business –
MOTION – To approve Mediacom Contract – Doug Parks https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=3511
New Business –
Discussion – Funding New Capital – Frank Daly https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=3755
MOTION – To approve Compensation Study Contract – Colette Horn https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=5268
Appointments – https://youtu.be/hgSSr6dSeZ0?t=6558
Kenneth D. Wolf – 1st Term – Environment & Natural Assets
Diana Snyder – lst Term – Communications
Patricia Seidl – lst Term – Communications
Tim McMullen – 3 Year Extension- Recreation & Parks
Tres Denk – 3 Year Extension – Recreation & Parks
Gerald Horn – Chair – Marine