By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(March 14, 2019) The Ocean Pines Board of Directors on Saturday approved a design concept and location for a new craft building to be used by the Pine’eer Craft Club.
Plans call for the new building to be north of the bathrooms across from the administration building and adjacent to the Ocean Pines Farmer’s Market held at White Horse Park.
The existing building will be demolished to provide additional parking for the community center.
According to a motion by Association Vice President Steve Tuttle, the Pine’eer Artisan and Gift Shop was established in 1974. To date, the organization has donated more than $151,000 to Ocean Pines organizations.
“The club sponsors craft fairs that brings hundreds of people into the Pines to highlight our community and what we have to offer,” Tuttle said, adding that the beneficiaries of the club’s efforts have been the Ocean Pines Police and EMS, the library, public works and parks and recreation. He said the club also has provided “considerable equipment for our parks and items used within our buildings.”
The club also paid Ocean Pines an annual rent of $675.
Several local people spoke on behalf of the group during the public comments portion of the meeting, including Club President Sharon Puser, who said the club has 72 members. She said they were men and women, and both residents and nonresidents.
“Our club is open to the public. We meet once a month and after our general meeting we do a craft,” she said. “You do not have to be a crafter to join our club. We have members that are not crafters …one in particular she says, ‘Well, I don’t craft, but I just love this club.’
“Some people come just for the friendship,” Puser continued. “They come because they like what we do [and] the fact that what we do goes back to the community that we live in.”
Along with monetary contributions, she said club members made crafts for both children and seniors, and the group participated in the “Family Fun Day” last year during Ocean Pines’ 50th anniversary celebration.
Resident Carol Fritz said there are many clubs in Ocean Pines, but not all had their own building.
“If they want a building, I’m for that. But also, pay the money to come back to the community to offset the building that you’re putting up,” she said.
“We have a lot of wonderful groups. They might also want a space, so are we opening up a Pandora’s box here?” Fritz continued. “They’re a lovely group [and] they seem like wonderful people, but you’re hitting us in the pocket.”
Resident Phil Quinto countered there are many other clubs who use association facilities for free, while the craft club has donated more than $151,000.
“That’s money that Ocean Pines does not have to pay or distribute to anybody. They provide a community service – they’ve proven that over a 40-year period,” he said.
Quinto said money for a new building was already allocated and would not affect future assessments, and the group provided “positive publicity to Ocean Pines.”
“It’s a valuable organization, contributes to the community, and offsets expenses that Ocean Pines would have if they were not in existence,” he said.
In discussing the motion, Director Frank Daly said board members had a fiduciary responsibility to ensure funds were managed properly, but they also had other vital duties.
“As much as we try to hide from it, disguise it, deny that it exists, we are a community,” Daly said. “In fact, we are the largest community on the Eastern Shore and … we also have an equal fiduciary responsibility to do things to improve the fabric of that community and the community life, and those two things are pointing at each other with this issue.”
He proposed a friendly amendment to the original motion, to enter into a 10-year rental agreement with the club “to ensure OPA a rate of return on capital of 3.0 percent.” Based on cost estimates of $75,000 to $100,000 for the building, Daly said the club would pay an annual rent between $3,792 and $5,064, depending on final construction costs.
He said club donations each year would be subtracted from the rental amount, adding average donations over the last five years were $4,890 annually.
“We’re going to take care of the money,” Daly said. “We’re also in doing this recognizing the contributions that the club makes to the community.”
Daly cited as an example the club’s donation of a defibrillator for the community center.
“When a club donates something that is used in this community and something identified and need in this community, that, in effect, reduced your assessment,” he said. “In my mind, that kind of justifies proceeding with this type of investment.”
The friendly amendment and the original motion as amended each passed 4-2, with directors Slobodan Trendic and Esther Diller not in favor. One director, Ted Moroney, was not present during the meeting.
For more information on the Pine’eer Artisan and Gift Shop, visit www.oceanpines.org/amenities/pineneer-craft-shop.