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Clarke, Bailey quarrel over country club renovation plan

According to the latest set of plans for renovation of the second floor of the Ocean Pines Golf & Country Club, costs could top $1 million — or more.

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Aug. 9, 2018) Updated renovation plans for the second floor of the Ocean Pines Golf and Country Club last Friday nearly derailed an otherwise routine board of directors meeting on reserve accounts.

Included in the more than three hours of deliberation were updates on three significant capital items that needed to be plugged into the reserve study: country club and administration building renovations, and the purchase of new financial software.

General Manager John Bailey said $400,000 was budgeted for software, while the reserve study identified $496,000 for the purchase and implementation of new systems.

Continuing costs would then become part of the operating budget, rather than expensed as capital or new capital funds, Bailey said. He said a decision on the purchase would likely occur in September or October.

More difficult to nail down were costs to renovate the second floor of the country club, Bailey said, with a request for proposals scheduled for release this Friday and due by Sept. 7.

Plans include new meeting rooms for community groups, as well as banquet space for the golf operation.

However, several optional additions are also going out to bid, including an elevator and new roof, which could significantly drive up the total cost, Bailey said.

Bailey said architectural firm Davis, Bowen & Friedel Inc. estimated the current renovation plans would cost just under $1 million, but additional items and contingency costs could drive that closer to $1.2 million – or higher.

Director Ted Moroney said additional complications arose after a roofing contractor, hired last year, was apparently let go before he could finish the job. He said the contractor was paid about $35,000 out of a $70,000 agreement, and a second contractor was paid about $43,000.

“In fact, there is about 1,000 square feet of roof that was never fixed at all,” Moroney said. “The second contractor notified OPA of a whole lot of … errors and problems with the roof that had been done by the contractor that we terminated.”

He said a consultant was then hired to determine the extent of the issues.

“That report was provided by public works to the [acting general manager] at that time. I don’t know whether it ever got to the board or not,” Moroney said.

“Basically, we have no warrantee on the roof … the contractor was not licensed to be able to do that,” he added. “Part of the fix-up there is to fix any of these issues.”

Moroney went on to say some of the walls associated with “a half-million dollar” renovation of the country club’s first floor, done last year, “are bowing in due to water inflation” because of the leaky roof.

“There’s a great video they’ve got at the back door of Tern’s Grill … of the water pouring inside the building,” Moroney said. “We’ve got an envelope problem that needs to be addressed.

“It makes no sense to pour [more money] into the building and then end up having the thing leaking continually,” he added.

Also an issue is whether the project had drifted into “mission creep,” a military term used to describe a gradual shift in objectives resulting in a longer and more costly commitment than originally planned.

Bylaws and Resolutions Committee Chairman Marty Clarke said the second-floor renovations were originally budgeted at $500,000 and didn’t include an elevator or a roof, although Bailey and others disputed the validity of that estimate.

“What I’m hearing is a classic example of mission creep,” Clarke said. “The mission should be to maintain the existing country club – to take care of the deferred maintenance. And what we’re doing is doing our very best to drive the cost right off the Richter scale.”

Clarke pressed Bailey on whether there were secret plans to drive up the renovation costs to instead gather support for an entirely new building.

Bailey said it was his understanding those discussions were had several years ago and, with the hundreds of thousands already spent on renovations, “I don’t know that many people in the community will want to say, ‘flush that.’”

“I think that train left the station a couple of years ago,” Bailey added.

“You’re not answering the question,” Clarke said.

“No, you don’t like the answer, Marty,” Bailey said.

When Bailey flat out said that was not the plan, Clarke replied, “That’s just not true.”

Clarke went on to say there were plans for a new building and Bailey had asked if he would support it.

“If you had asked me to two years ago and I’d been here, I’d say, ‘tear the damn thing down and start new.’ But we already made that decision. We’ve gotta move on now,” Bailey said.

“Your question to me was, would I support tearing it down after we’d spent the money on the first floor and building a new building,” Clarke said.

“And your answer was?” Bailey asked.

“Absolutely not, I’ll sue you!” Clarke said.

Association member Pete Gomsak said he previously supported building a new country club but, “I think the train has left the station, as J.B. has said.”

“I maintained then and I still maintain today that we will end up spending more money for the decision to try and retain that old building over time than we would have spent had we knocked it down and built a new one,” Gomsak said. “That having been said, that argument is over.

“However, the board of directors and the community can ultimately make a decision,” he continued. “The board, for example, or even a group within the community, could decide to put something up for referendum. And, in that unlikely event, the community, by voting for the referendum, could make such a decision. Is that going to happen? I don’t think so, but it’s certainly within the realm of our governing system.”

Also discussed were renovation plans for the Ocean Pines Administration Building that includes the police station.

Bailey said original plans were to expand police quarters into the existing footprint of the building and move some of the administrative operations to the country club.

“That’s no longer in the plans for the country club. All that’s going to stay in the admin building,” Bailey said.

He said plans were modified to instead extend the building into the police parking area.

“The police department would actually end up with a little more square footage than what was planned for them just by renovating the existing footprint,” Bailey said. “The estimate from 2016 … was $360,000.”

He said the new estimate was $600,000, including $50,000 budgeted this fiscal year for architectural and engineering drawings.