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


Letters to the Editor

Families, speak up
Eight months ago, when I was elected to the Board of Directors for the Ocean Pines Association OPA, I answered the call to the largest number of voters who were looking for something different on the board, someone who was part of an unrepresented portion of the population, and someone who would bring change.
Since that election, I have faced challenges on an almost weekly basis that I have handled to the best of my abilities, while trying to balance my own business and my family life. Those challenges had been very manageable largely in part to a board that had been extremely supportive of me, and had worked with me through most of these challenges.
Over the last few weeks, however, that support has vanished, and it seems the politics of an election is becoming more important than working together as a group for the betterment of the association.
This week, I now have four directors revolting against me, and bringing me into a special meeting. Somehow, they feel that it is extremely urgent to redirect policies for events starting in June, and have even implied that I have acted outside of guidelines for the GM, despite the fact that M-02 clearly gives the GM the ability to set rules for the amenities.
While the Oasis pool (former “Yacht Club” pool) has been predominately an adult pool, it has for decades hosted a weekly family event where children and their parents and grandparents could come to swim, eat, and drink. In trying to address the poor decisions of previous management and boards, who built a structure that took away evening hours of adjacent amenities, I was left with trying to find a plan that would allow us to legally host family time at the Oasis pool.
With hours after 6 p.m. off the table, so we could be in compliance with Worcester County zoning, I took the input of staff and actual data from the membership system to best reallocate this family event to the least impactful time of the week, and even offered alternative adult only time in another pool, which was not the case on previous family fun nights. Even though previous management felt it was better to disregard the county code, I was not going to operate that way.
Certain directors, however, seem to feel that families don’t carry a voice, or priority in the amenities. Rather than compromise on a time so that families have a chance to enjoy a pool their assessments contributed to, they want to completely eliminate the family activities from the Oasis pool.
Director Parks states, “I am a firm believer that the pool should remain ‘adults only’ at all times.” Director Jacobs states, “[I] believe the pool should remain adults only.”
Director Stevens wants it made clear that the “use of the of the pool as ‘adults-only.’” Director Trendic was the first Director to call for a special meeting to discuss this topic. This all despite the fact that this pool has for years hosted family events, and was not exclusively “adult only.”
Seeing this exchange this week, I am really left to wonder how I am supposed to represent the families of the association on this board, when the majority of the board seems to be against a compromise solution to maintain a balance of use for amenities, but would instead further restrict use so families lose a very popular family friendly program every week this summer.
Their answer is go to another pool, and they say that Swim and Racquet is an acceptable alternative. As a parent, I don’t see how it can be. They want to send families to a pool that is not family friendly. The S&R pool starts at four feet deep, and goes to approximately 10 feet. The Oasis pool, on the other hand, is three feet to almost six feet. For young swimmers, being able to stand is extremely important, because they can’t swim or tread water for long periods of time.
At S&R, this is very difficult for our young swimmers. That is why the nights at the Oasis pool were so popular, because kids of all ages were able to use the pool. That is also why Mumford’s Pool is the most popular pool in Ocean Pines every day of the week in the summer, because it’s 2 1⁄2 to five-feet depth works well for swimmers of all ages.
If families want to see these family friendly activities continue in this neighborhood, they need to start reaching out to the board and making sure their other elected representatives hear their voice. By the census, only 1/3 of our residents are of retirement age, which means 2/3 are families.
I have worked very hard for the last eight months to represent the entire population of Ocean Pines, and seek compromise to provide services and opportunities for that entire base. However, if the families don’t speak out, you have a board that let the minority take control and put families second.
I hope I can continue to serve the people of Ocean Pines, and bring greater value to the amenities this neighborhood overs all of us.
Brett Hill
Acting GM and Director
Ocean Pines Association

Transparency not clear
Parting is such sweet sorrow
Or so the pundits say
But sometimes it’s the best option
The winningest card to play
The time has come for Jean and Pat Renaud to leave Ocean Pines. We are traveling north to be closer to our son.
Before we go, I would like to comment on the current state of affairs with the governance of the Ocean Pines Association. When I left the Presidency of the Board of Directors of OPA, I felt that the prior board had done a good job in keeping the association solvent with some tasks that still needed to be addressed by the next board. What I am seeing, however, is an association in a state of rampant flux.
There have been ten resignations and firings of key personnel since last August, a definite sign that things aren’t going well. In reading the local papers there doesn’t seem to be a clear direction or consensus among remaining board members about where and how they should proceed. It appears that they think that the budget is not something to be followed, but viewed as a nuisance. When one board member wants a costly project to be completed, they simply raise the issue and await compliance.
Transparency has gone by the wayside as we are told that the Legacy Fund is gone, but where did it go? Swimming Pool/Beach Club changes are being made without member input. More often than not changes are instituted and we find out they are done after the fact. The Yacht Club is bleeding money and the attempt to make the sows ear Country Club into a silk purse entity is throwing good money away.
Our General Manager/Director Brett Hill has introduced his companies, FTS and ThinkBig, on two occasions to the Board for their consideration to allow them to place their fiber-optic cable next to the Mediacom cable, so that the homeowners will have a choice in the future. It may be a good idea, but for three reasons: Brett Hill owns FTS and ThinkBig, which presents a direct conflict of interest; any large, expensive project like that would have to be competitively bid before any work could proceed, and it is estimated the cost to the average homeowner would double.
Issues like the member survey, the reserve fund study, and the roads and bridges repairs appear to have been abandoned.
Many of our friends and neighbors ask me what they can do about these situations and I tell them to call their favorite Director and attend the board meetings held once a month to make your voices heard. Or as one board member told me: “If you don’t like Brett Hill and his cockamamie ideas, just leave.” And we plan to do just that.
Pat Renaud, Ocean Pines

Keep pool adults only
According to the new OP Aquatics Guide, it seems that the newly branded YC pool, now called the “Oasis” pool, is going to have a Family Fun Day on Sundays from 2-6 p.m. with a DJ on the deck outside of the pool from 3-8 p.m. The event is open to all ages.
There will also be an Adults Only Swim on Sundays at the Swim & Racquet pool from 1-8 p.m. That means that the adult only YC pool is now open to families on Sunday (The busiest day of the week) starting at 2 p.m. I guess to accommodate the adults that do not want to be around kids, families with kids will be forced to leave the S&R so that it can be adults only. You might think that this change is taking the place of “Family Fun Night,” but that is still going to be held on Wednesdays at S&R.
At a recent BOD meeting, a group of us voiced our opposition to the pirate ship playground being placed next to the only adult pool. One of our concerns at the time was that it was a first step toward opening the adult pool to kids. Our voices fell on mostly deaf ears and the playground has been installed. Now as the second step, the “Adult Oasis” pool will be open to kids on the busiest day of the week.
Since parents can’t drink at S&R, like they have done in the past at Family Fun Nights, OP is now offering a similar event at the YC pool where they can. Since there is no bar at the other “family friendly” pools, this is their only option.
So it seems that in order to accommodate adults who want to take their kids to the only pool with a bar (so they can drink and then drive the kids home) OP is opening its only adult pool to families on Sunday’s. If drinking is the issue, maybe a better option is to open a bar at S&R or allow adults to take in their favorite beverage.
Another issue may be that the Family Fun Night events previously held on Wednesday evenings at the Oasis (YC) Pool were a big money maker for the tiki bar and Cove Restaurant. That pool now has to close at 6 p.m., causing Family Fun night to be moved to S&R, which may cause a drop in the tiki bar and Cove revenue.
I guess having adults only use the Oasis pool on Sunday’s does not generate the same revenue? Apparently one way to bring that money back is to create a new event to replace the Family Fun Night revenue. Unfortunately that means opening the adult pool to kids.
My experience has been that by 2 p.m. on Sunday, the pool is packed and there are literally no chairs/tables/umbrella’s available. What is going to happen when families with kids show up and there is no room? Will the aquatics department be forced to close and then reopen the pool to allow families access?
I originally thought that some members of the BOD were trying to make the YC pool into a family pool, but that does not seem to be the case. Several of the Directors have assured me that they had no prior knowledge of this change and are just as surprised as the rest of us.
Like a lot of changes in OP recently, this major change to one of OP’s most popular amenities was not put up for discussion or made public until the new aquatics schedule was posted on the OP website. Without a doubt, the day-to-day operational aspects of OPA are the responsibility of the GM, and not the board.
I would argue, however, that when an operational change is introduced that has a profound impact on association members, especially a change this dramatic, a public discussion should have been a priority. Apparently the acting GM did not want to hear anyone else’s opinion.
One of the factors that Mr. Hill does not seem to understand is that the OP population is still primarily adults who do not have small children living at home. A lot of these people are older, some in their upper 80s and 90s, with health issues and many are unsteady on their feet.
Having access to an adult only pool where you can easily get in and out without fear there will be kids jumping on, or bumping into you and possibly causing you to fall is important and reassuring. Being able to leave a cane or walker by the steps without fear that kids will play with it is also comforting.
Many other residents like that pool because they can get in and do water exercises, sit on the seat and just enjoy being in a peaceful environment. Not something that is possible when a lot of young children are running around.
Ocean Pines has always been kid friendly with lots of amenities tailored specifically for them. For a very long time we have also had an adults only pool, catering to the older population. This is not about denying kids and their families access to the pools.
They have Beach Club, Mumford, Swim & Racquet and Sports Core. This is about keeping just one pool reserved for adults only. Why can’t we have one pool dedicated for those who need to be able to get in and out without fear of being bumped or pushed over? Or just want to relax in a peaceful atmosphere?
I hope that the OP Board will investigate this issue and if appropriate, hold an open and public discussion.
Gary Miller, Ocean Pines

Concerned about Oasis
I am writing to express my concern about the processes by which changes were made to the established attendance policies governing the “Oasis” pool at the yacht club and the Swim and Racquet pool. These changes have been made without regard for the limits on the powers and responsibilities of the general manager, and without regard for the roles and responsibilities of the Board of Directors. I reviewed the minutes of the BOD meetings for the past six months and saw no discussion of these policy changes and no motion to make these changes. I object to the changes and demand that they cease and desist until such time as the BOD reviews, discusses and holds a vote on a properly submitted and seconded motion to make them.
The BOD is formed and its members are voted into office in order to manage the affairs and business of the OP Association on behalf of its members (By-Laws of OPA Article V, Section 5.01). The BOD is charged with the duty to “adopt and publish rules and regulations and fees governing the use and enjoyment of waterways, parks, pedestrian easements, recreational facilities and other amenities that are owned by or under the control of the Association” (Article V, Section 5.14(c)). The BOD is also charged with the duty to employ … and supervise a General Manager … to administer, manage, and conduct the operations of the Association” (Article V, Section 5.14(b)). The By-Laws further stipulate that “Subject only to the direction of the Board of Directors … the General Manager shall be responsible for the proper administration and management of the day-to-day operations of the Association” (Article IX, Section 9.02). Furthermore, the “General Manager shall enforce all rules and regulations of the Association …” (Article IX, 9.02(f)). I see no language in the by-laws that gives the General Manager the authority to make or change existing policies, regulations or rules. The responsibility and power to do this is explicitly given to the BOD (Article V.5.01). The changes in attendance policy for these two pools were conducted without proper authority. They also were made without proper parliamentary procedure as specified in Article V Section 5.15, which stipulates the manner in which meetings during which the BOD conducts business, such as making and changing rules and procedures, are governed.
I am aware that the changes to these policies were made (without consultation with the BOD and without consent or direction from the BOD) by a Board member who is serving as Acting General Manager until such time as a General Manager can be hired. I am requesting that the Acting General Manager be disciplined for overstepping his authority. I am also requesting a vote of no confidence in this Board member and initiation of a referendum for his removal from the BOD in accordance with Article V Section 5.12 of the By-Laws based on a gross violation of the articles of the By-Laws that govern the procedures and processes by which business is conducted on behalf of the OP Association members. I contend that the actions of this Board member in this matter indicate that the integrity with which he represents the interests of the OP Association and conducts our business cannot be trusted by the members to adhere to the By-Laws of the OPA
The following issues need to be considered in any discussion and decision made about changing the attendance policies of the “Oasis” pool:
1. OP Association Liability. Facilitation of access to alcohol consumption by parents of minor children swimming in an OPA pool opens the Association up to liability related to injuries to the minor children swimming in the pools. It is not reasonable to expect that our lifeguards will assume responsibility for the conduct of children beyond the swimming safety issues, which they are trained to address. Parents are expected to be present when minor children are swimming in order to maintain their authority and responsibility for the conduct of the children while on the premises. Potential alcohol impairment undermines this important safety net for the swimmers and for the lifeguards who are charged with ensuring a safe swimming experience. Thus, the OPA not only bears liability for injury to swimmers, but also liability for any emotional injury to lifeguards due to such injuries that occur as a result of inadequate parental supervision. I object to OPA being put in the position of having to bear these sorts of liability without proper discussion and decision-making by the BOD elected to represent my interests in matters such as this.
2. Safety of Adult Swimmers. The swimmers who use the adults-only pools have a right to access to a swimming experience free from hazards associated with the presence of groups of children. Many older residents have strength, balance and vision issues that make them particularly vulnerable to falls and injuries in an environment such as a swimming pool. Older residents who are not used to anticipating unexpected movement and actions of children are particularly vulnerable. Older swimmers also are more likely to have immune system issues that make them particularly vulnerable to viruses and illness-bearing microbes that put them at risk. For older swimmers who are accustomed to the layout and staffing at the YC pool, requiring them to seek a childfree swimming experience in an unfamiliar pool poses additional safety risk. Risks to older swimmers are another area of financial liability that the OPA will bear, and I demand proper consideration of them by the BOD prior to voting to implement the proposed attendance policy change.
3. Quality of Life. The median resident age of Ocean Pines is 59 ( and 34.5 percent of the population is 65 and older ( 4/7/17). There is a need for swimming options for the older swimmer whose safety is easily compromised by fast-moving children. Taking this option away from adult swimmers during the weekend, which is the most popular and busy time for the YC pool to be used, is unnecessary and unfair. There are many other swimming options for children. There are no other established adult-only options. Facilitating a swimming experience that affords parents access to alcohol does not justify reducing the quality of swimming options for our older residents.
4. Property Value. Decision-making that disregards the needs, preferences and safety of older residents creates a climate of unfriendliness to our older citizens. More than 60 percent of our residents are over 45 and nearly 35 percent are over 65 ( 4/7/17). Our property values depend on the attractiveness of this community to potential buyers who comprise the largest market for this community. Population data suggests that an important segment of the market is the older adult. I object to the creation of a decision-making climate that flagrantly fails to consider outcomes that will drive this market away from Ocean Pines.
I request that these factors be included with others brought to your attention by concerned members when discussing and voting on the proposed change in admission policy for the YC pool.
Dr. Colette C. Horn, Ocean Pines

No board consideration
An “executive decision” has been made by the “acting GM” that will greatly affect the use of the Ocean Pines Yacht Club Pool on Sundays. Brett Hill has made the decision, it appears without board consideration or discussion, to open the pool to families, with the presumption that the kids will come and play in the pool and the parents will eat and drink at the tiki bar, thus becoming an added revenue source for the Yacht Club.
As a year-round resident who is a swimmer, I frequently use the Yacht Club pool, especially on the weekends. One learns quickly that if you are not there by 11 a.m., there might not be a seat for you. Those at the pool tend to stay for most of the day, many eating lunch and enjoying beverages of some sort. In fact, it is not uncommon to see several people in line at the tiki bar to purchase their refreshments.  
I don’t understand the logic to opening the pool to families, with the presumption that the parents will abandon their kids to the lifeguards and go and eat and drink at the tiki bar. I have raised my two children in Ocean Pines and now have a grandchild that I bring to the family pools, and there is absolutely no way, that I would ignore my child. I know the dangers involved around water, even if the child is older. I venture to say that most responsible parents would feel the same way.
To add insult to injury, the “acting GM” wants to close the family pool with the splash pad, the Swim and Racquet pool, to families on Sunday and open it totally for adults.  If you have been at this pool, you will quickly see that it is not senior friendly. There are ladders, which are very difficult to use as an older person, and only a small temporary step to help people enter and exit the pool. Many seniors in this community are in need of soft exercise, and swimming in the Yacht Club pool is one of the benefits they enjoy. In my opinion, this decision makes absolutely no sense at all.
This is not against children …  it is for keeping the one place in Ocean Pines that is for the adults and their relaxation. This pool has been an adult pool since it opened in 1975. Every piece of the OP literature states it is an adult pool. And remember, the Mumford’s Landing is a very nice family pool, and is located approximately 100 yards away.
There is a special board meeting on Thursday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at the Assateague Room in Ocean Pines. I am asking that if you are an Ocean Pines property owner or resident, that you please try to attend. You can also send an email to It is my hope that the BOD will come to their senses and not have this decision made by one person. I hope that there is an open vote on this issue as soon as possible. The summer season will soon be upon us!
Sharyn O’Hare, Ocean Pines

Let your voice be heard
According to the newspapers and other sources interim General Manager of Ocean Pines, Brett Hill, has proposed that the only adults only pool in Ocean Pines, which is at the Ocean Pines Yacht (YC), will be used every Sunday during the summer for Family Fun Day events. He is proposing that the YC pool be open on Sundays to people of all ages. He suggests that adults who do not wish to share the YC pool with children may use the Swim and Racquet Pool, which will be designated as an adults only pool on Sundays from 1-8 p.m.
Unfortunately, Mr. Hill has not considered that these two venues are not inter-changeable. The Yacht Club pool has many added features designed specifically to accommodate the older and/or physically challenged adult population in the Pines. The Swim and Racquet Club Pool does not. This is not a viable choice for those who need the accommodations available at the Yacht Club pool.
I truly believe that this mixture of older people and children at the YC pool is a safety issue. Consider that The Yacht Club pool has been designated as "adults only" for almost 50 years. Its “over age 18” designation assures those adults who have balance issues or need assistive devices the chance to ambulate in a safer environment than one which includes the busy activity of children.
The Yacht Club pool has a seating area in the shallow end of the pool, and easy access features for entering and exiting the pool.
I became aware of the importance of this easy access feature when I was recuperating from surgery. I had always enjoyed using the Swim and Racquet (S&R) pool because of the beautiful view and the chance to watch the lively family activity there. However, I found that after my surgery I had to be very careful to find a safe spot in the very crowded, shallow end to enter the S&R pool. When I needed to exit the pool from the less crowded deep end, I did not have the upper body strength to pull myself up the pool ladder to exit the pool easily. I began to go to the Yacht Club pool, where I could safely and easily enter and leave the pool without embarrassment and with minimum difficulty.
These are among my concerns. I certainly do not wish to pit one demographic against the other. I believe Ocean Pines has something for everyone. I simply wish to bring another perspective to the discussion table.
A special meeting of the Ocean Pines Board of Directors has been scheduled for Thursday, May 13 at 7 p.m. to discuss this issue. Please consider attending
Audrey V. Wahl, Ocean Pines
Reverse decision on pool
I am writing to you today asking you to reverse the unilateral decision by the Acting General Manager to allow children at the Yacht Club Pool on Sundays.
Quite simply, the presence of children significantly changes the atmosphere of any social event, including a day spent poolside in the summer. The Yacht Club has always been a refuge away from the distractions created by children at a swimming pool. By example, the Wednesday evening Family Night at the Yacht Club is a noisy affair that can be heard from my back porch on Pintail Drive approximately 500 yards away.
The Ocean Pines Association provides multiple alternatives for children and their parents to spend Sundays at a swimming pool. There is absolutely no need to disrupt the Yacht Club pool scene.
My husband and I are frequent users of the Yacht Club for a variety of activities, including football games, live music performances, trivia contests, and casual lunches and happy hours, and special events upstairs. We’ve been supporting the Yacht Club as year-round residents for over 18 years.
Sundays, in many cases such as my husbands and my case, is the only day we have open to enjoy a day at the pool.
Now is not the time to reverse a 40-plus year tradition of the Yacht Club pool restricting the presence of children, particularly on Sundays.
Pam Wadler, Ocean Pines
Dumb, but consistent
In reference to the recent change made by Mr. Hill to the Yacht Club pool, it is a dumb idea, but consistent with several that he has made as we pay for his learners permit.
Dennis Hudson, Ocean Pines

Bridge repairs welcome
Congratulations to the board of Ocean Pines that contracted the company to do the repair work on the bridge located on Clubhouse Drive. Those of us driving or walking over the bridge daily have been privileged to see the workmanship and communicate with the workers. In addition to doing an outstanding job, the workers have always been friendly, courteous and helpful. Drive by and see the results for yourself!  
Mary Stephanos, Ocean Pines
Vet Russian involvement
It is imperative that Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election be investigated thoroughly by the FBI, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.
The reason is not to discredit the results of the 2016 election, but rather to ensure that all future elections are accurate, fair and free from any tampering or influence by a foreign power. These investigations also should not be obfuscated by deflection or diversionary tactics.  
No other presidential candidate has ever mentioned a Russian president so many times in any campaign as Donald Trump. What were his reasons for doing so? Why was/is he so enamored with Putin? Answers to these questions are important.
Aside from the concerns above, these investigations must ensure that all future elections are free from any foreign influence. Although it probably didn’t happen in the 2016 election, the next time, it could involve hacking into the voting machines. The integrity of the electoral process cannot be compromised.
Jean L. Fry, Ocean Pines