By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(July 26, 2018) Ocean Pines Association General Manager John Bailey addressed goose control, buying new financial software and rebuilding the crab pier, in an interview Monday. He also talked about reports of unsafe conditions outside the swim and racquet club.
On the removal of about 300 Canada geese last month, Bailey said the administration was not operating in “a vacuum of not listening and not hearing people’s concerns.”
“And, we are looking at a variety of methodologies to keep the goose population from exploding again,” he said.
On Wednesday, for example, Bailey was to meet an expert on the use of border collies trained to chase geese offsite without harming them.
He said flashing lights, monofilament lines, “no-mow” zones around the ponds and spreading nontoxic pellets, among many other ideas, were also being explored.
“We’ve even talked about spraying grape juice on the grass. Ottawa, a few years ago, used a drone on their public beaches,” he said. “There’s a variety of methodologies that we can pursue and it’s fascinating to read about them and read the reviews about things that will work for a day or two — they’ll work for a week, they’ll work for a month — and then all of the sudden the geese go to school at night and figure out how to beat it, and then you’re back to square one. They’re smart!”
Bailey said he wasn’t surprised at the public outcry over the geese.
“The big thing for me is, I don’t sit in the office and make decisions in a vacuum, by myself,” he said. “This came up through the [environment and natural assets committee] of fellow residents and members of the community, and the goose issue has been a problem and talked about and worked on for years. So, that’s nothing new and we’re not the only entity that has this problem.”
Asked if there was anything he would have done differently, Bailey paused and then replied, “I don’t know.”
In the future, he said education would be an important part of finding a solution, “beginning with don’t feed the geese!”
In seeking to upgrade reportedly outdated financial software, Bailey said a meeting with Advanced Technology Group Inc. could be the next part of the process.
The group, a division of the Legum & Norman parent company Associa, was scheduled to meet with Ocean Pines officials last Monday, but abruptly canceled. Bailey said he received an email from Advanced Technology Group this Monday.
“We haven’t scheduled a different date for them to come and do a demo, but I assume that’s probably the next step,” he said. “I don’t have direction [from the board] either way, at the moment.”
Bailey said a group of residents recently met with association leadership to discuss the sanctuary crab pier. The pier was closed earlier this year after an independent inspection showed parts of the structure were failing.
“On that issue, you’ve got a lot of folks who don’t want the crabbing pier, but want the wetland pier where it is,” Bailey said. “You’ve got other residents who want the crabbing pier right where it is, so that’s a difficult balance on policy that the board’s gotta figure out.“
He said a new pier would require new permits and could run into new obstacles.
“We may choose another location, but we’ve gotta talk to the county and see if we can even do it,” Bailey said. “We’re ready to issue an RFP [request for proposals], but what are we issuing it for?”
Bailey also said he is aware of resident concerns that staging equipment used by bulkhead repair contractors is creating unsafe conditions behind the swim and racquet club.
He said he read about a similar issue in that area two years ago and had a meeting scheduled on the subject Tuesday morning.
Moving the equipment somewhere else in Ocean Pines is not feasible, Bailey said, because that would just mean moving the problem to another neighborhood. Instead, he said he was working to determine what the cost would be to move everything offsite.
“If it’s minimal, OK that’s easy. If it’s not minimal — which I don’t think it will be — that would be coming from the bulkhead reserve and add substantial cost,” he said. “That’s one of the things that we’re trying to get more information about, is, what would that additional cost be?”
Bailey added a new bid request for bulkhead repairs would likely be released within 60 days.
“If that’s what we want to do — say that storage needs to be offsite — then that’s one of the pieces we need to include in that RFP,” he said.
“I totally understand the complaints, but at the same time it’s not as simple as saying, ‘Well, just move it.’ Well, where are you going to move it to and at what cost?” Bailey continued. “That’s what we’re trying to find out now.”
A regular public meeting with Bailey and the board of directors is scheduled on Friday at 10 a.m. in the Assateague Room of the community center on 235 Ocean Parkway. The session will likely be the final one before the Aug. 11 annual meeting, when election results are certified and up to four new board members take office.
As of Monday, the meeting agenda included motions to adopt a new employee handbook and new ethics policy, and a discussion on the crab pier.