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Hill, Moroney have different recollection on bulkheads

Brett Hill

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Aug. 2, 2018) Former Ocean Pines Director and interim General Manager Brett Hill took credit on Friday for attempting to move the bulkhead staging area away from the association swim and racquet club, although Director Ted Moroney in an email exchange said that was not the whole story.

Hill, speaking during the public comment portion of a regular board meeting, said, “I was one of the people that vowed the equipment would not come back there, to the swim and racquet club.”

He said a previous request for proposals required the staging area be moved to the Wood Duck section of Ocean Pines.

“That equipment should never be there [the swim and racquet club] and I don’t know under whose watch that was changed, but the board I was on made that agreement, and that’s the bid we put out and that’s the bid we voted on,” Hill said.

In an email to the board on Friday, Hill attached pre-bid minutes and drawings “identifying staging for the current bulkhead work adjacent to Wood Duck.”

“At the time, use of the staging area was identified as ‘day use’, for basically [bringing] materials in and out,” Hill said in the email. “I am not sure who changed this after the bid, but nowhere was S&R even suggested. Given the work area, one would think using that as a staging area would have added extra costs to the project, as now equipment and materials have to traverse under the 90 bridge and are quite a distance away.”

However, Moroney, in an email reply to Hill on Monday that was forwarded to local media said, “I truly wish it were as simple as the documents you provided indicated.” He instead offered a timeline of “what transpired regarding the bulkhead situation.”

According to Moroney, the board explored the subject last September and October as it was “cleaning up a number of matters dealing with contracts.” Hill resigned from the board last September.

Moroney said Ocean Pines had entered into an agreement with Hi-Tide Marine Construction Oct. 5, 2016 and that Hill, rather than Association President Tom Herrick, had signed off on the deal. Moroney said that was “approximately four months before the documents [Hill] referenced existed.”

“It does not appear the board approved that contract nor any indication the contract had been subject to legal review,” Moroney said. “The contract was for a 5-year term and provided that Ocean Pines would pay for work that it directed Hi-Tide to perform. Further, the contract also provided that Hi-Tide would be the preferred contractor for Ocean Pines, and that Hi-Tide would perform ‘all work for OPA during the contract period.’

“There was no definition of ‘preferred contractor’ or ‘all work,’ and there was no specific termination provision. The contract did contemplate a possible future cancellation, however the language was so vague that it could be interpreted in multiple ways. So OPA at the time of issuance of the documents you provided was already under contract to Hi-Tide for a term of five years.”

According to Moroney, on July 28, 2017 the board awarded a one-year contract to Hi-Tide with “with a potential two-year extension.”

“Obviously, one would wonder if we have a five-year contract with Hi-Tide, why would we enter a new contract with the same company? It does not appear the board was aware of the terms and conditions or, from what I am led to believe, even the existence of the 10/5/16 contract and as such considered this motion the agreement going forward,” Moroney said. “As you may be aware, no contract based on that motion was ever entered into, nor were negotiations conducted, with Hi-Tide while you were AGM or after you resigned.”

Around September or October of last year, Moroney said, Ocean Pines approached Hi-Tide and negotiated an agreement to terminate the five-year contract. That was replaced with a project agreement that would be extended on a case-by-case basis until a formal process could be established.

“That new project agreement provided sound terms and conditions which protected OPA and that were absent, vague or weak from the previous agreement,” Moroney added.

He said the association was preparing to release a new request for bids to include pricing options for continued use of the swim and racquet club, use only from October through April, and for not using the area at all.

“We will also be inquiring about possible other non-intrusive staging areas,” Moroney said. “Hopefully, we can get pricing for multiple options regarding staging and a decision can be made that works for all.”