The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a $1.5 million state grant application to help improve drainage in Ocean Pines.
The improvements would affect Sections 2 and 3, considered among the worst in the community. The Association applied through the county because of restrictions that normally prevent homeowner associations from receiving certain types of state aid.
Worcester County Director of Environmental Programs Bob Mitchell on Tuesday presented the water quality improvement and flood protection grant application on behalf of Ocean Pines.
“This is the future and the future is here,” Mitchell said. “These kinds of efforts are going to become more commonplace for Worcester, as we move forward to create resiliency within our communities. This grant application is part of an effort by the Ocean Pines community to combat drainage and flooding problems.”
Mitchell said most of the community was built before existing stormwater laws required drainage programs for new construction.
“Existing ditching and infrastructure is lacking and need retrofits, aggressive maintenance, and upgrades to function properly for a development of that size,” he said.
For the new project, Mitchell said Ocean Pines and the adjacent Windmill Creek development would collaborate to help improve water flow and water quality. He said 233 acres in total would be affected.
“I’ve gotta give credit where credit is due: Ocean Pines has done the sweat equity here. They’ve spent an excess of six figures in engineering this and other retrofit projects for the community. It’s what needs to be done to compete with the larger jurisdictions across the state for this limited grant money.”
Mitchell said Ocean Pines would commit $700,000 to the project, with the state fulfilling the rest of the $2.2 million estimated total price.
“It’s a good opportunity to track state money to aid a county community that has done the work to get shovel ready,” Mitchell said.
Commissioner Chip Bertino said the grant was “a very long time in coming” and required much effort. He singled out Director of Amenities and Operational Logistics Colby Phillips.
“I certainly commend Ocean Pines and Colby and [her] team for putting this together,” he said. “I know Commissioner [Jim] Bunting and I have worked with you all, and it’s really nice to see this come to fruition.”
Association President Doug Parks, during a public Board meeting Wednesday night, credited “a team of folks that did a lot of work” with submitting the grant proposal.
“I’d like to point out three people that did yeoman’s work above and beyond the call of duty,” Parks said. “I wanted to point out the work that Colby Phillips has done in leading that team and coordinating all the efforts, contacting the people at the county, at the state, at the Maryland Coastal Bays, and all the other entities that were involved.”
Parks also recognized Rich Polk from Showell engineering firm Vista Design Inc.
“His input was invaluable and helped us present a very well thought out proposal,” Parks said.
He also credited Mitchell.
“He was also instrumental,” Parks said. “Those three folks should be recognized for their efforts.”
Phillips, during a drainage presentation on Wednesday, said she has learned a lot about the subject over the last year. During that time, Ocean Pines staff has worked closely with engineers from Vista and experts from Worcester County and the State of Maryland. The effort has also included an ad hoc committee of Ocean Pines residents and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.
“Everybody has been onboard and supportive of these efforts, because everybody recognizes how bad [flooding] can be,” Phillips said. “It’s been a group effort.”
Phillips said Sections 2 and 3 include 761 lots and three parks, or about 10% of Ocean Pines. Proposed improvements in the grant application include retrofitting Bainbridge Pond to meet current Maryland Department of the Environment standards and improve downstream swales, adding additional culverts under Beauchamp Road to aid runoff and conveyance capacity, and removing high points on the southern Beauchamp Road swale to allow trapped runoff to access the new culverts.
A swale is a depression similar to a ditch that’s designed to manage water runoff, filter pollutants, and increase rainwater infiltration.
“The good thing with this grant, is it’s going to help with the water quality improvements,” Phillips said. “Not only are we looking to impact and help improve drainage but, in the process, we’re looking to also improve the water quality.”
Other drainage improvements currently in progress or already completed this year include culvert replacement on Boston Drive, culvert repairs on Mumfords Landing Road, inlet lowering and pavement milling on Blue Bill Court, culvert and catch basin replacement on Watertown Road, culvert replacement on Borderlinks Road, and installing a new culvert on Harborview Drive. A culvert is a structure that allows water to flow underneath a road.
Phillips said much of the original infrastructure of Ocean Pines is rusting and deteriorated. Because of that, failing pipes are being replaced with high-density polyethylene pipes.
“The good thing with these is they’ll last 50-plus years … and we won’t have the rust,” she said.
Staff have also compiled a ditch and swale maintenance list, meant to keep clear the areas designed to collect water.
“We’re putting the date that we cleaned it or that a contractor came in,” Phillips said. “That way, we’re going to be able to keep them on a rotation to stay on top of that.”
Phillips said a dry summer helped staff to get a jumpstart on clearing the ditches, adding, “We’ve had some feedback that it definitely helped improve those areas.”
“Nothing’s going to fix it, but it’s going to improve” drainage, Phillips said.
Lastly, she said an upcoming series of free seminars would help promote public education on drainage and flooding issues.
Three upcoming events at the Ocean Pines Community Center on 235 Ocean Parkway include:
- March 2, 6-7:30 p.m. – Watershed Restoration Specialist JenniferDindingerwill discuss yard waste and lawn fertilization
- April 20, 6-7:30 p.m. – Watershed Restoration Specialist JenniferDindingerwill host a hands-on seminar on how to make a rain barrel and rain garden
- May 12, 5:30-7 p.m. – Kevin Wagner, who manages the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Community Assistance Program for Maryland, will host a seminar on FEMA activities and flooding issues. The event will also include local agencies and vendors that specialize in flooding
“Ocean Pines is obviously very large and we try to get to everything that we can,” Phillips said. “Please … reach out either to myself or Eddie Wells, the Public Works director, and we can come out and meet with you.”