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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


For some swimmers, an Oasis gone

(July 13, 2017) When about 200 angry Ocean Pines homeowners stormed a special board meeting in April, the directors voted 5-2 to do away with a “Family Fun Night” that would allow people of ages into the Oasis pool.
Formerly called the yacht club pool, the swimming facility had long been an “oasis” from children, as it functioned as the only adults-only pool in Ocean Pines. Many were not happy with the temporary policy change and the board, at the time, voted to side with popular opinion.  
Then, on Monday, the board announced in a press release that the Oasis pool would now be open to all ages, all the time. The vote was held during a closed session, following an open session on Sunday.
The text of the release read, “The Board of Directors of the Ocean Pines Association unanimously approved the following motion, introduced by Acting General Manager Brett Hill, after consultation with legal counsel in closed session, on Sunday, July 9:
“I move that, after reviewing concerns raised by residents and legal counsel about whether the prohibiting children from using the adults only Yacht Club pool complies with State and Federal law and Ocean Pines’ tax exempt purposes, the prohibition on children using the Yacht Club pool is temporarily suspended to allow time for further review, effective immediately.”
Hill elaborated on the announcement in a statement emailed to the Gazette on Monday.
“The pool has been restricted from those under the age of 18 for over 30 years,” Hill wrote. “The decision was made after exhaustive research by our legal firm, Lerch, Early, and Brewer, who have extensive HOA experience. They searched for every reasonable alternative, but at this time, have been unable to find any.  
“There was not a strong demand for change, but there has been significant dialogue regarding the legality of the operation, which prompted OPA attorney involvement. The decision agreed to yesterday was the recommendation of counsel, which was approved unanimously by the board.
“As far as a timeframe, the board took prompt action upon receiving the legal opinion, but is still exploring other avenues to accommodate a facility of similar operations if legally permissible in some manner for the association. There has been some initial resistance from regular users of the adult pool, however this was a matter of complying with the laws of the state of Maryland, and the Fair Housing Act, which supersede the authority of a Board.”
A small group of homeowners apparently held a protest at the pool on Monday to oppose the policy change.
As of about 5 p.m. only a few dozen swimmers remained, but those who stayed did not have favorable opinions.
“Everybody’s pissed,” LizAnne Inscore, a part-time resident and homeowner, said. “There’s five pools in the neighborhood and four allow children. This is the only adult-only [pool] and it’s nice to come and relax and have some peace and quiet and not have to worry about little ones.”
Inscore said children can be heard playing in the Mumford’s Landing Pool, which is roughly 100 yards away and is open to families.
“I have a hurt foot and I don’t want to have to worry about kids jumping around or jumping in,” she said. “When we came in, there was one child here and [they] were screaming. It was just kind of a turnoff. We like to come here and relax.
“We’ve raised our kids. We’ve been there, done that. It’s just nice to have a place to ourselves,” she added.
Her husband, John, said they bought their pool membership because of its status as an adults-only pool. He also noted the Oasis is the only pool in Ocean Pines that serves alcohol.
“I think they should put alcohol at the other four pools – then they won’t want to come over here,” he said.
Homeowner Don Tomb called the policy change “the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“They’re cutting their own throats, because, as a consequence, there’s a lot of people who aren’t going to join – I’m not going to join. If I want to go swim with kids, I’d go to any of those other pools,” he said. “I like nice peace and quiet. There’s plenty other places for kids to go to swim.”
He added allowing children to swim in a pool that was formerly restricted to adults, and often used by the elderly, was a safety issue.
“I’m not sure where [the decision] is coming from,” he said. “I don’t understand why kids want to come to this pool anyway. They can’t dive, they can’t jump in. There’s no deep end. It makes no sense to me.”