By Greg Ellison
(Nov. 7, 2019) The possibility of charging nonresidents more to use the indoor and outdoor pool facilities was examined during the Ocean Pines Aquatics Committee meeting on Monday.
Ocean Pines Operations Director Colby Phillips broached the topic as part of an early review of upcoming fiscal year 2020/2021 budget figures.
After delving into aquatics usage metrics, Phillips said two swim facilities were most visited by nonresidents.
“The Sports Core and Beach Club are the two pools that are utilized the most by nonresidents,” she said.
The data considered were limited to nonresidents paying the daily drop-in fee, while excluding those attending swim classes.
Phillips proposed raising nonresident daily use rates, currently set at $10 for adults and $8 for children, by two dollars each. The current daily use rate for residents would remain at $8 for adults and $6 for children.
“So it would be a $4 difference,” she said. “It used to only be a dollar, then it was $2, now I’m suggesting two more dollars.”
Phillips said sentiment exists to raise daily use fees at the beach club pool even more.
“I was going to suggest $15 for adults and leave the kids at $10,” she said.
Since the beach club also offers access to restaurant and restroom facilities, Phillips said the extra cost would be justified by the additional perks.
Committee member John Ensor Jr. inquired about the relative crowd sizes at the beach club pool in the summer months.
Phillips said the nonresident usage at the beach club pool outpaces other swim facilities.
“It’s the highest nonresident use out of the outdoor pools,” she said.
Committee Chairwoman Kathy Grimes backed the proposed price hike.
“I think with everything going up, I support it,” she said.
Philips also said costs skew higher at the beach club due to its Ocean City locale.
“Everything over at the beach club is more expensive than here,” she said.
Despite the perception voiced by some community members that nonresidents are crowding pool facilities, Phillips said the incidences are not as significant as many believe.
“The nonresident on the daily cost is not utilized as much as people think, but it’s utilized enough that it adds in $50,000 during that time frame,” she said.
Restricting nonresident access would be most difficult when swim classes and instructional courses are involved, since they usually comprise about a third of the participants, Phillips said.
Ensor noted the instructional classes are vital to residents in the vicinity.
“You’re basically one of the few places around this area that teaches lessons,” he said.
Ensor also suggested the price increase would have minimal impact on attracting nonresidents to the beach club pool.
“When people come down for vacation, they’re not going to think about it,” he said. “We’re protecting the people that live here [because] we raised fees, but it was only for nonresidents.”
Newly appointed committee board liaison Frank Daly asked if the nonresident rate applied to all non-homeowners.
Phillips said anyone that has an Ocean Pines address would qualify for resident rates.
“If your family comes down and stays with you, they get the resident rate,” she said.
Committee member John Noonan agreed that the rate hike is justified and would likely have little impact on attendance at the beach club pool.
“You have to balance the planned demand,” he said. “There’s just such a higher demand over there [that] I don’t think the number of attendees will go down.”
Phillips said the considerations bandied about would be discussed with General Manager
before going to the board of directors for consideration during fiscal 2020/2021 budget deliberations.