By Greg Ellison
(July 30, 2020) A Department of Natural Resources grant to help pay to complete drainage repairs in Ocean Pines has been approved, giving the Ocean Pines Association more than a half-million dollars to spend on the project.
Altogether, $549,000 was awarded to the community by DNR, which worked through the Chesapeake & Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund to help cover the cost of reducing flooding in Bainbridge Park by retrofitting Bainbridge Pond.
Ocean Pines Director of Amenities and Operational Logistics Colby Phillips said the goal is to address Bainbridge Park and pond where severe flooding and groundwater overflow occur.
“The grant money will assist in the project we’ve been working on putting together for the last year at Bainbridge Pond down to Beauchamp Road,” she said.
Last fall, Phillips and Public Works Director Eddie Wells began working with Vista Engineering consultants and went on to establish a drainage workgroup with support from General Manager John Viola and the board.
Phillips said the focus would be on neighborhood sections two and three, which comprise roughly 10 percent of landmass in Ocean Pines.
“This is just deemed the worst, because it affects 761 lots and three parks,” she said.
The results of a 1997 drainage study also deemed these areas, which drain through Bainbridge Pond down to Beauchamp Road, as the highest priority.
Drainage solutions could include expanding the adjacent retention pond and installing one or more culverts under Beauchamp Road.
Phillips said in addition to Worcester County Commissioners Jim Bunting and Chip Bertino backing the project, Worcester Environmental Programs Director Bob Mitchell was instrumental in securing the state funds.
“Worcester County Commissioners Bunting and Bertino were heavily involved because this is their area and they care about the community and what happens with drainage,” she said. “Commissioner Bunting is a huge part of this because he started the project in that area decades ago by getting the culvert pipe run under Beauchamp Road.”
Bunting headed a task force that championed drainage upgrades in the early 2000s that was subsequently dissolved.
Bunting said the current work proposed has been under consideration for an extended period.
“Ocean Pines has a lot of low spots,” he said. “That was one of the first projects we were trying to get the drainage working a lot better in that area.”
Phillips said to piggyback on earlier efforts, a second, or possibly third, culvert could be installed to address storm water runoff in the section, in addition to retrofitting the retention pond to include outfall upgrades.
“We’re looking to increase the water quality and outfall capacity with the retrofitting,” she said.
Increased downstream flow through swales and ditches could alleviate pond overflows, which drift towards homes west of the park.
Bunting said finding solutions to excessive water runoff in Ocean Pines is a daunting task.
“You have to watch it after heavy rains and then go look at it and make decisions on what to do,” he said.
Phillips said the grant application was facilitated through Worcester County since Ocean Pines is a homeowner’s association and not a municipality.
“It’s going through the county so the funds are specific to this project,” she said.
Phillips said in addition to county officials, Kevin Smith and Steve Farr with Maryland Coastal Bays would continue consulting on the upcoming project, along with engineers Rich Polk and Eric Jones from Vista Design.
“We’ll be working closely with the county, Maryland Coastal Bays, DNR and Vista Engineering throughout this project,” she said.
Phillips said the infrastructure work, which is initially slated to commence this winter, would not be the last drainage related undertaking.
“People may think we’re just focusing on one area,” she said. “We’re looking at all the areas [but] obviously we need to start somewhere.”
Phillips said the Bainbridge Pond project provides an ideal starting point.
“There’s a lot of focus on drainage and water quality,” she said. “Obviously we want to keep our bays clean and a huge piece of the project is the water quality.”
Phillips said the grant proposal received unanimous support from the Worcester County Commissioners
“There were a lot of pieces to this puzzle to put it together,” she said. “Having everybody on board and supportive made it achievable.”