By Greg Ellison
(May 7, 2020) Although a brief glimpse of customary activities was on exhibit Friday in Ocean Pines when boat owners were cleared to re-inhabit slips at the Yacht Club and Swim and Racquet Club marinas, timelines to reopen amenities and facilities remain in limbo pending state directives.
Recreation and Parks Manager Debbie Donahue said permitting boat owners to tie up this weekend and prep for summer proved feasible within social distancing mandates.
“Normally when we open the marinas it is on May 1,” she said. “Being able to open then was kind of giving people a little bit of normalcy.”
Donahue said with a careful eye on crowd sizes, numerous boat owners were able to fuel vessels ahead of state boating restrictions being lifted.
“We had a lot of traffic going in and out for the weekend,” she said. “It was a very active, kind of normal day, and normal weekend.”
Speaking on Monday, Donahue said the, sort of, soft opening this weekend at the marinas went off without a hitch.
“We’re glad that we did go ahead and allow people to put their boats in their slips,” she said. “A lot of people cleaned them and wrapped them right back up.”
Donahue said appropriate precautions, including wearing face masks, ample use of hand sanitizer and recurring cleaning of surfaces were followed by marina staff and boat owners.
“It gave them an opportunity to get out and have a little bit of normal life and to see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
In terms of a larger return to recreation programs, the picture remains cloudy until Gov. Larry Hogan offers further clarity regarding the proposed three-phase plan for reopening Maryland.
“Right now, it looks as though for me to get back to normal it’s probably going to be step two because everything is still more than 10 people,” she said.
Donahue said with phase one restrictions likely to limit public gatherings to crowds of 10 people reopening facilities would be severely restricted.
“It’s all within what [Hogan] finally tells us we can do stage-by-stage,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it to figure out where we’re going.”
OPA General Manager of Golf Operations John Malinowski said although final inspections are being completed for the new Clubhouse building this week, it remains a guess when the facility could be put to use.
“It still depends on what the restrictions are that Gov. Hogan puts out there,” he said. “Everybody’s waiting to see what’s going to happen and what he’s going to say.”
The pending easing of crowd size limitations and food service restrictions will dictate when the golf clubhouse is open for community gatherings.
“It’s up in the air as far as what we can and can’t do,” he said. “We’re playing the waiting game.”
While answers are still forthcoming from the state, Donahue said preliminary steps to hold Camp Ocean Pines, scheduled from June 22-Aug. 21 have begun.
“Over the weekend we got things rolling in terms of packets to get registration started,” she said. “Then we realized we may need some clarification on numbers as far as how many we can actually register in June.”
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regulate Camp Ocean Pines.
“We usually have approximately 130 kids everyday Monday to Friday for nine weeks,” she said.
“I’m waiting for some more confirmations from our state as far as our summer camp is concerned.”
Whenever the state guidelines for reopening facilities and resuming activities are issued, Donahue said creative solutions would likely be required to operate summer camp within a restricted framework.
“It’s going to be a little bit tough with camp because there’s no way to social distance,” she said.
Turning to other events, Donahue said the Ocean Pines Bay Day scheduled for May 17, which is produced by the
the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, has been postponed until the fall.
“We will have a confirmation on a new date in September soon,” she said.