Argument for fiber thin
Posted On: 3/23/17
A push coming from ThinkBig Networks is encouraging the community to pressure the Ocean Pines Board of Directors to make a quick decision to allow an easement for fiber optic cable to be run in the community. Initially, the proposal looks like a no-brainer with no up-front cost to OPA to have the lines run, but there is much about this proposal that should make the board take pause. The original proposal to grant an easement came from FTS, the company that wishes to lay the infrastructure. FTS is owned by board member and acting GM, Brett Hill. FTS will make its money by leasing those lines to end-use providers, such as ThinkBig Networks. The proposal presented offered a several-year deal to provide free fiber optics to the OPA Police Department, which on the surface looks appealing. What is concerning is there was no information regarding future costs to the police department along with initial and on-going costs for service to other Ocean Pines facilities. Those costs could be sub...» Click here for the full story.
Pines gamble worthwhile
Posted On: 3/16/17
The Ocean Pines Association search for a general manager to take over from interim operational chief Brett Hill is akin to the “Forrest Gump” box of chocolates observation: “You never know what you’re going to get.” Or, as Director Dave Stevens put it, “You pays your money and takes your chances.” That’s about the size of it, as no matter how good a search firm is, or how much its services cost, its recommendations are exactly that, rather than guarantees. No one can know how well even the most highly touted recruit will do until he or she has spent a fair amount of time on the job. The circumstances, expectations, personalities and support staff — everything is different from one job to another, so there’s no way to be certain whether someone who performed miracles in one place can do the same elsewhere. As almost any manager in public or private employ knows, the ability to deliver a good result is just as dependent on...» Click here for the full story.
Addressing gulf on golf
Posted On: 3/2/17
Returning the Ocean Pines golf course to local control by ending the contract with Landscapes Unlimited was the right move for the Ocean Pines Board of Directors, who ascertained correctly that saving money in this instance is as good as making it. Even though Landscapes did make improvements in the operation, the course looks to be close to $100,000 off budget this year, thereby activating the $50,000 opt-out trigger in the original contract. Also per that agreement, which took effect in May 2015, the board was paying Landscapes close to $80,000 a year to run the course. By lopping off that bill, the board has taken a big step toward making up some budgetary ground. But even though this management change makes sense, it isn’t going to solve all the golf club’s problems, as some of them are tied to an industry that isn’t growing as it once did. As of 2016, the number of rounds played had been flat for five years, as Baby Boomers age out of the market and Millennia...» Click here for the full story.
Third time’s the charm?
Posted On: 2/23/17
Don’t be too hasty in making judgments on the quality of the food and service at the yacht club, now rebranded as Mumford’s Landing, since the Ocean Pines restaurant and club is going through the same thing all new restaurants do. As veteran diners know — and Ocean Pines has plenty of them — the first few weeks of any food service operation are tough, and it’s even more difficult for Mumford’s Landing as a community-owned facility. It’s going to get more scrutiny than most other restaurants would, with a clientele drawn initially from a base that largely consists of stakeholders in the operation. No restaurant likes unhappy guests, but the one advantage private operations have is that the disappointed few can’t go to a board of directors to complain about it. No matter how much association members might want Mumford’s Landing to produce revenue quickly, the kitchen, the wait staff, the procurement people, the bus staff — ...» Click here for the full story.
Shoes off to Jesse Turner
Posted On: 2/16/17
Now that Jesse Turner is moving on at the age of 86, thousands of people in the area will no doubt will be wondering, “Now what will we do?” Turner, who’s owned the Berlin Shoe Box for decades and seems to have worked there since the beginning of time, is one of those people out-of-towners might not have seen on a regular basis, but they knew where he was when you needed him. By “out-of-towners,” we mean Ocean Pines, Ocean City, West Ocean City and the surrounding area, because everyone who ever had a favorite pair of shoes or boots that were too good to give up, but too worn to wear knew exactly what to do — take them to the Shoe Box, where this exceptionally nice gentleman would bring them back to life. Berliners, of course, know Mr. Turner best. Besides his seemingly eternal business presence, he has involved himself in the community for decades. But alas, time passes and businesses like the Shoe Box are fading into history. We’re more i...» Click here for the full story.
Er on side of inclusion
Posted On: 2/9/17
If local governments and community associations were marching bands, they would be moving to the beat of conundrums. A bad pun that may be, but it is a good way to describe how small government operations find themselves in an endless struggle to keep assessments at a politically acceptable level, while also ensuring that services and amenities are available to as many people as possible. In Ocean Pines this week, the discussion addressed a fundamental issue of this budget-balancing act: should amenities such as the gym aim to make a profit or strive only to break even? Reasonable arguments can be made to support either approach. Making a profit could, depending on the budgetary bent of the leadership, be applied against assessments, thus benefitting all property owners whether or not they use the facility. Conversely, a break-even approach would help to ensure that user fees for that amenity are within the financial reach of as many people as possible. It’s more of a philos...» Click here for the full story.
Walking the Pine plank
Posted On: 2/2/17
A take it or leave it approach usually results in no one walking away truly satisfied, and this could end up being the case with Saturday’s decision by the Ocean Pines Board of Directors to proceed with installing a pirate ship playground at the yacht club. Like many things these days, discussion focused on pitting groups against one another. Either you are a family with young children who should be allowed to enjoy dining and entertainment at the facility, or an older retiree who would rather they not. This was not the issue, as both young and old in the community want to see the venue attract more families, which will go a long way in ensuring its success. While there was discussion of how to avoid disturbing those who wish to enjoy a peaceful day at the adult pool, little thought was given to the safety and convenience of locating the play area so close to the parking lot. For good reason, other venues having similar structures have both a fenced play area along with compl...» Click here for the full story.
America is already great
Posted On: 1/26/17
The infuriatingly wrong thing about the slogan “Make America Great Again” is that it declares that the United States has become an also-ran in the global lineup. It also begs the question, if America is no longer great, who among the other nations has moved into that top spot? Some would argue that the country’s decline into mediocrity or worse began in 2009, when Obama took office, while others would suggest that our national distress started with the financial crisis of 2007-2008 under Bush, or maybe even in 2001 when terrorists exploited a vulnerability we didn’t know existed. Or maybe it’s just a campaign rallying cry that seems to address whatever grievance or belief an individual voter might have, but does not mean the country has become a shadow of its former self. Yes, we have lost jobs to cheaper labor overseas — as well as to automation — as U.S. companies seek to improve their bottom lines for the benefit of other Americans who in...» Click here for the full story.
Heroin problem in Pines
Posted On: 1/19/17
The last thing anyone would have expected 49 years ago, when Ocean Pines came into existence, was that the community would find itself with a heroin problem. But that’s what’s happening, according to Police Chief Dave Massey, who said that this, one of the safest population centers in the state, saw 70 overdose cases in the last two years. If that many overdoses don’t qualify as a “problem” nothing does. Even more worrisome is that Ocean Pines is not the typical Eastern Shore community. It has no deep pockets of poverty, derelict neighborhoods or other areas that foster the growth of criminal elements, and that suggests the tragedy of heroin addiction, as a percentage of the population, is worse in other Worcester County towns. As has been said numerous times in the past few years, opiate addiction is no longer the secretive habit of murky city dwellers who exist on the fringes of society. Neither is this affliction limited to the type of person you try ...» Click here for the full story.
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Posted On: 1/5/17
The year 2016 was a mess: rough weather, flooding, bomb threats, lawsuits, ugly politics, the loss of good citizens, and business that was OK, but not so wonderful that it overshadowed the year’s difficulties. It was, in many respects, like the year before and the year before that. With the arrival of each new year, the downsides of the previous ones remain painfully fresh, while the good, as Shakespeare observed in “Julius Caesar, “is oft interred with their bones.” But the “good,” as it were, is the foundation on which the new year is constructed, while the negative tends to diminish as other circumstances redirect the community’s attention elsewhere. In Berlin, for instance, a fairly rough election by that town’s standards left no permanent scars and the town again appears ready to embrace an ambitious agenda. It won’t accomplish it all, as the town likes to think big, but that is surely better than doing little and expecting ...» Click here for the full story.