Association President also provides updates on Mediacom, Comcast contracts
Ocean Pines Association President Doug Parks used his Annual Meeting presentation on Saturday to both reflect upon the previous fiscal year and look ahead to the future.
Parks started with the 50th anniversary celebration, which concluded last year with a gala at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club. The yearlong celebration of Ocean Pines’ golden anniversary also included a parade and community day, golf tournament, and a sock hop.
“Apparently that was a big success [and] a lot of people had a lot of fun,” Parks said of the latter event. “I just wanted to point out a special thanks to the 50th Anniversary Committee … and specifically [committee Chairwoman] Jenny Cropper Rines for her involvement in organizing all these activities. It was a wonderful celebration that we should be proud of.”
Parks also highlighted a series of town hall meetings, which he hopes the new Board of Directors will continue.
“I think it was something that was very relevant to the organization [and] relevant to the membership, and it provided an opportunity to get the back-and-forth dialog that we don’t normally get at a Board meeting … I think it’s really important that we continue that.”
Parks piggybacked off General Manager John Viola’s comments about the recent economic turnaround, adding he also wanted to credit Ocean Pines membership for doing their part.
The Association closed out fiscal 2019 with a total net operating fund that was $130,584 better than what was budgeted. By comparison, the fiscal 2018 audited financial statement showed the operating fund more than $1.2 million below budget.
“Without the participation of the membership and the belief in these amenities and the things we have here in Ocean Pines, this wouldn’t have happened,” Parks said. “You can’t put it down on paper. It’s gotta be something that people want to do … and are willing to spend their time on.
“As a community, we should congratulate ourselves because we, collectively, helped with the economic turnaround,” he added.
Parks noted a forensic audit was completed and that copies are available to Association members, by request. To request a copy, email Executive Secretary Michelle Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org and include name, address and phone number.
He also thanked former Assistant Treasurer Gene Ringsdorf and the Budget and Finance Committee for their help in updating a reserve study.
“I can’t stress the level of importance in having that reserve study accurate and up to date,” Parks said.
He said it was unfortunate the Association had to change general managers, as John Bailey departed in February and was later replaced by Viola. Parks said it initially was a challenge for the Board, but the transition ultimately became a positive.
“I think the results, now, are speaking for themselves,” he said. “I think the staff needs to be commended on their involvement in helping turn Ocean Pines around as well.”
Parks said the Board authorized improvements to an underused portion of the Beach Club, which further helped the Matt Ortt Companies to turn around Ocean Pines’ food and beverage operations. He added the Association and Matt Ortt Companies had reached an agreement on principal for them to continue in that role, with a final contract expected to be signed soon.
The Board during the last session also approved renovations of the Police Station and rebuilding of the Golf clubhouse and cart barn.
Going forward, Parks highlight implementation of the new Northstar financial software, which he said would help improve efficiencies and economy of scale for Association operations
Parks said a new contract was signed to allow Mediacom to provide services in Ocean Pines. He acknowledged it was a sore subject for some, but underscored the contract was “not a retail agreement.”
“The contract is to grant them the right to use the easement” to provide service, Parks said. “Can we push them to try to better their service? I think we should have that discussion.”
He suggested a Town Hall meeting with Mediacom executives, with Ocean Pines officials publicly saying, “the level of service has to get a little bit better.”
“I think we can develop that as one of the tenants of the new Board,” Parks said.
He also brought up rumors of contract with Comcast. Parks confirmed the Association is in discussions with the company.
“We’re in final negotiations for a contract to allow Comcast to access those very same rights of way and easements to provide their services,” Parks said.
According to Parks, about 18 months ago Comcast offered to provide services in exchange for a guarantee that all 8,452 homeowners sign up for basic cable through the company, “which would’ve increased your assessment by $360.”
“I, respectfully, said ‘no thank you,'” Parks said.
Now, it appears the Association is nearing a deal with Comcast that’s similar to the agreement with Mediacom.
“We’re in lengthy discussions with them right now and hopefully we’ll be able to bring that in,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll get that done real soon.”
Finally, Parks acknowledged Jeff Knepper and Tom Piatti. Both men were appointed this year after two other Board members resigned.
“Jeff Knepper and Tom Piatti were asked to help the community … to help us get through the business of Ocean Pines,” Parks said. “Their contributions over the past several months have been many and I just wanted to publicly thank Jeff and Tom for stepping in.”
To view Parks’ full presentation, visit https://youtu.be/bG33ugso4eo?t=3074.
Ocean Pines’ Annual Meeting of membership was scheduled on Saturday, Aug. 10. However, because no quorum was established, no official business was conducted.