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Ocean Pines advisory group addresses critics

Ralph DeAngelus of the Matt Ortt Companies, right, sits in during an Ocean Pines Clubs Committee meeting last Thursday. Also pictured, from left, are committee members Herb Roe, Gary Miller and Chairman Les Purcell.

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(July 26, 1018) Ralph DeAngelus of the Matt Ortt Companies last Thursday said there were no hard feelings following several news reports and commentary elsewhere regarding the Ocean Pines Clubs Committee and the Ortt Company’s handling of the association’s yacht and beach clubs.

A July 5 article in the Gazette said the clubs committee perception of Ortt Companies was “mostly upbeat,” although a few committee members reported having bad experiences.

The following week, DeAngelus in an email exchange disputed some of the contents of committee meeting minutes, saying information “put forth about the Beach Club couldn’t be more inaccurate.” The exchange was reported in this paper on July 12.

That led to a Joe Reynolds commentary on the Ocean Pines Forum suggesting that the committee “perhaps it has outlived its usefulness.”

Committee member Gary Miller, last Thursday, said “98 percent of what we discussed at the last meeting was extremely positive.”

“Everybody is ecstatic with what’s going on,” Miller said. “But, because we did hear a few little things, those were the types of things [the committee wanted] to tell you about, just so little things don’t go into big things.”

Miller added, “Everything has been very, very positive, regardless of how it came across in the paper and on Joe Reynolds’ Forum.”

“It is kind of the purpose of the clubs committee to not only tell you all the good things, [but] if there is something that you could do a little different or there are some questions … to bring it to your intention,” Miller said. “What you do with it is completely up to you. We do not enforce or tell you [what to do], or try to have anything other than just giving you comments we hear.”

Miller said he sent a copy of the June meeting minutes to DeAngelus because he didn’t know some of the answers to questions that came up.

When DeAngelus replied, Miller said he forwarded that to the Gazette “Just so you can do a follow up in the paper, so that there isn’t any miscommunication.”

“And I understand [the Gazette] called to talk to you to make sure that was OK,” Miller said. “If there was any negativity that came out of that, it was not our intention.”

DeAngelus said he and his business partner, Matt Ortt, were not thin skinned.

“The truth of the matter is, I hear enough good things. I’ve got enough people blowing smoke up my ass,” he said. “I’d like to hear what the problems are. I don’t even want to hear how great you thought it was — I want to hear what you thought was wrong.”

DeAngelus went on to say his email to the committee was intended to “set the record straight.”

He did, however, take issue that emails were forwarded to the media and asked that not happen again.

“That set me aback a little bit,” he said. “That was just a misunderstanding and I don’t think we’re going to forward each other’s emails any longer to the press.”

DeAngelus went on to say his comments about inaccuracies in the meeting minutes were not in response to committee member Gerald Horn’s story about a negative experience at the beach club.

In the July 5 article, Horn said he and his wife, Ocean Pines Director Colette Horn, had subpar food and some confusion over a drink order, and were treated poorly by staff.

“I didn’t even know about it, but it looked like that’s what I was responding to,” DeAngelus said. “I thought, oh my God, I don’t want this woman thinking that I’m bashing her over the head.”

Clubs committee member Donna Hickey said she thought DeAngelus’ response was “very explicit, very detailed and very accurate.”

“I did too,” Miller said.

Committee members during the meeting offered their thoughts on recent experiences at the clubs. Larry Bohanan said his impression was largely positive, although once he was waiting outside at a table with slats and noticed “a lot of food down in the cracks.”

“See, that’s what I want to hear,” DeAngelus said, adding he would address the issue. “Friendliness and cleanliness are the keys to the restaurant business.”

“I’m going to say it again, forget about throwing your shoulder up and patting us on the back. Tell us what we need to fix,” DeAngelus continued. “We understand we’re only eight weeks old … and so do the people who come here from Ocean Pines. They’ve been so gracious and friendly to us, and they’ve been relaxed with our mistakes. And we try to correct those as fast as possible.”

Miller said although the committee was “bashed” online as a result of the recent articles, “everybody that responded was talking about how great you’re doing.”

“In some weird sense, that was a very positive thing,” Miller said.

“The committee, over the last three or four years, was really pushing for a lot of the stuff you’re finally doing — including getting a company like you in here. So, we’re happy about that,” he added.