By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Aug. 30, 2018) All seven members of the Ocean Pines Board of Directors last Friday took part in a nearly 10-hour orientation meeting that included legal and financial presentations, a meet-and-greet with department heads, tours of three facilities, and an extended brainstorming session on goals and priorities.
The directors met at 7 a.m. in the Assateague Room of the community center and – not counting lunch – did not break until about 4:30 p.m.
Board members heard from attorney Jeremy Tucker, Treasurer John Viola and Finance Director Steve Phillips, and then had meetings with additional department leaders from aquatics, marketing, public works and police.
Facilities Manager Kevin Layfield led a tour of the sanctuary crab pier, the swim and racquet club park currently being used as a bulkhead repair staging ground, and a waterfront home in the Wood Duck neighborhood in the process a bulkhead replacement.
Afternoon agenda topics included “OPA Mission and Vision Focus,” “Director-to-Director Communication,” “Financial Stewardship,” Engagement with Strategic Planning Needs” and “Effective Board/Management Relations.”
Association President Doug Parks, in a phone interview Monday, said the afternoon session in particular included some “very, very good conversation.”
“We learned a lot about one another and there was a lot of constructive suggestions going back and forth,” he said.
Parks said the overall effort would likely benefit upcoming meetings, starting with a board work session scheduled Saturday morning at 7 a.m. in the community center.
“We kind of said, hey, ‘let’s continue gathering all that information so that, when the work session comes around, at least we have our preliminary communication styles and we’ve got a level of effort in understanding what [General Manager John Bailey] is looking for, from his perspective, this year,” Parks said.
Parks said a key priority that emerged during the orientation was finishing the second-floor renovation of the golf and country club to create more meeting space. As evidence of the need, he said the directors had already discovered several scheduled board meetings had to be moved because the community center and yacht club were already booked.
“Here’s a tangible example of the demand for meeting room space,” Parks said. “That second floor of the country club will help provide, at the very least, two and even three more meeting rooms that can handle fairly reasonably sized attendance.
“I think everybody has got an understanding of where it needs to be, we’ve just got to dot a couple of ‘I’s’ and cross a couple more ‘T’s’ for the new guys,” he added.
Another reoccurring theme, he said, was shifting the board focus away from day-to-day operations.
“Frank [Daly] echoed my position, that we need to re-establish the fact that we’re the oversight,” Parks said. “I think that’s the general consensus of everybody … let’s start to put some of the operational things at arm’s length and bring the policy issues that need some attention closer to the board so we can focus on that.
“We’re not in operations,” he continued. “The idea of, not really worrying about how things are done – spend more time thinking about the big-picture items and the policy – things that could help the association and help the general manager and, I think, it’s a two-way conversation.”
Assessing the new board, Parks said, “there’s a lot of business and engineering folks” and “I think that’s going to be a pretty good combination.”
Parks said the group would still need to develop as a team and did not yet have all the answers, adding, “I think we’ve got the basis of a good group … People are bringing a lot to the table and, with that, comes a higher level of expectation from the membership.
“Generally, it was a really good discussion,” Parks said. “Now, we have a fairly decent idea of where each of us stands on things, and we can just work on that and develop as we go forward.”