By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(June 28, 2018) Potentially hazardous construction materials have returned to the waterfront area behind the Ocean Pines Swim and Racquet Club on Seabreeze Road. Technically part of a park, the site has also been used as a staging ground for bulkhead repairs.
Two years ago residents complained of potential safety issues – the area is highly trafficked by both children and adults – and the equipment was removed, but apparently has since returned.
Homeowner Lewis Frey in a Gazette interview two years ago said from 1999 until 2006 the area was used as a transfer station to haul dirt and other materials by barge, a disruption that only occurred a few hours each month.
Then, workers from Fisher Marine began leaving construction materials at the site overnight and for “nine months out of the year.”
Frey last week sent an email to the Ocean Pines Board of Directors saying the issue had resurfaced. He said on June 21, 2016 he made a presentation before the board on behalf of residents and about “the hazardous condition at the Swim and Racquet Club.”
The site “was [an] eyesore and a dangerous situation for the adults and children walking and playing there,” he said, adding the land is designated as a park in the association declaration of restrictions, a key governing document.
“At that time, I found at least 10 items where the Board of Directors were in violation of those restrictions,” Frey said. “The Board of Directors had all the equipment and bulkhead supplies removed within three days of that presentation. We were told that his would never happen again and that, if that area had to be used for transferring equipment or supplies, that everything would be removed by the end of the day.
“It is now June 20, 2018 and we are back to the same situation that we were at two years ago,” he continued. “I guess someone forgot to notify [General Manager] Mr. John Bailey and the new board members.”
Last Wednesday, materials and equipment from Hi-Tide Marine Construction were left unattended at the site, including two backhoes, a front-end loader, several trailers and stacks of construction materials.
Frey said materials apparently used for bulkhead construction and repairs had “been there for close to a month.”
“Two pieces of equipment, two long trailers, a closed trailer, and two barges, have been added in the past week,” he said. “The barge with the pile driver on it that is anchored in the canal is illegal. It was illegal in the state of Maryland to anchor a barge in a canal without a permit two years ago. I understand that permits are expensive. I will be contacting them to investigate this situation.”
Frey went on to say residents in the area were concerned because of “the safety issue and the eyesore that it creates.”
“This past Monday, there was a swim meet and the kids were climbing and playing on the pile of bulkhead material,” he said. “There are enough issues in the Pines that we do not need a lawsuit because a child received an injury. It is also a disgrace to the Ocean Pines community for residents and visitors who go the Swim and Racquet Pool to see such a mess.”
Resident Bill Hoshal agreed the problem had been ongoing, but said, “This is the worst it’s been.”
“There’s more equipment there now than has ever been there, and it’s been going on for I’d say the last four-to-six weeks at least there’s been something back there,” he said. “There’s been barges back there, then they started unloading the metal for the docks. Just recently they brought in more equipment and a dumpster.”
Hoshal added two large, rusty backhoe attachments had been onsite for about three months.
“[Residents] were told after Memorial Day nothing is to be back there. Now it’s just an ongoing thing,” he said. “Our deck overlooks that area, and basically with that park there’s a constant dog-walking situation. Everybody walks their dog along that path and then across where that material is. There’s always somebody walking along in the morning, afternoon and evening.”
He added residents were “just now starting to complain about it, because they’ve got so much material in there now.”
Ocean Pines Board members and General Manager John Bailey did not respond to requests for comment.