Ocean Pines to take on water management in ‘14
OCEAN PINES—Water management will likely be the first issue Ocean Pines leaders attempt to tackle as the new year begins. At the same time, the public part of the budget process will begin, followed by the opening of the new Yacht Club, environmental eradications that are bound to stir discussion and the possible installation of new natural gas lines in 2014.
A town meeting at Stephen Decatur Middle School on Jan. 16 will allow property owners to meet with state and federal officials and view up close proposed changes to the official floodplains maps released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in December. Worcester County Commissioner Jim Bunting along with other county officials, noting the proposals would remove a significant number of properties off the list for mandated flood insurance coverage, are strongly urging homeowners to attend the meeting.
A key concern for local government officials is once no longer being subjected to a mandate for coverage many homeowners who are still at risk for flood damage could choose to drop it as a cost-saving measure, only to be left financially vulnerable should a major storm strike the area in the future.
General Manager Bob Thompson also reported to the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors on Dec. 18 that a drainage task force to examine the floodwater management system was expected to be named and meet in January. The task force will review what has already been done and what steps are still needed to mitigate stormwater problems that have plagued certain areas o Ocean Pines for years.
The OPA budget proposal will be presented to the board and the Budget and Finance Committee on Jan. 6, thus officially beginning the discussion portion of the process, which is expected to culminate with a presentation to the membership mid-February, followed by a scheduled board vote on Feb. 22. While the schedule of the procedures may be clinical and orderly the actual process, barring a miracle, is not likely to be.
Much of the first half of the year will likely be consumed by the lead up to and actual opening of the new Yacht Club, which is scheduled for May 1, according to Thompson. While most of the drama over materials, costs and unforeseen added expenses are hopefully in the past that is no guarantee there will not be a hiccup or two when the doors are actually opened and the facility is subjected to closer scrutiny.
The first events have been booked for May, Thompson has told the board.
A survey of the U.S. Route 90 pond in Ocean Pines, conduct by the Department of Natural Resources at the request of the Environment and Natural Assets Advisory Committee, concluded droppings from the ever-growing year round goose and duck population was choking off vital nutrients from game fish in OP ponds. Another problem detected was invasive phragmites plants.
Neither the geese nor the plants can be easily eradicated, but discussions will likely continue as the most ideal solution is pursued. A key time to address the proliferating goose population would likely be in June, after the migratory geese have left the area. Once the administration can be more assured they have winnowed the population down to the core domestic goose community, decisions may need to be made, or as OPA President Tom Terry termed it the OPA will be “pursuing an opportunity for an adjustment in the goose population.”
The matter of possible euthanizing part of the resident goose population could get emotional, but so could the counter argument that the flock has gotten so large and the birds have gotten so used to the area that they are putting humans at risk by also causing traffic problems on Racetrack Road.
Terry updated the board of directors and membership that negotiations with Sandpiper Energy over updating rights of way had reached the level where discussions between the parties’ respective legal counsels were taking place last month and draft language of the agreement was in progress. Those negotiations, which should conclude around March will allow Sandpiper to continue service in the Ocean Pines community.