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Planning data analysis will be offered to OPA

OCEAN PINES— Salisbury University’s Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network  (BEACON) program could provide high-tech help to the Ocean Pines Association as it prepares to create its 10-year comprehensive plan by compiling and analyzing computer data to determine the cost benefits of planned facilities.
During the Dec. 4 work session, members of the Ocean Pines Board of Directors were scheduled to hear a presentation from the Comprehensive Planning Advisory Committee featuring Dr. Memo Diriker, founding director of the university’s BEACON program.
According to the program’s website, the program provides public and private sector decision makers business, economic, workforce and community development consulting and assistance services. It said the program uses “targeted outreach programs, applied research, trend and scenario analyses, demand forecasting, strategic planning, feasibility studies, and modeling for resource allocation, process improvement, and economic impact studies.”
Committee member Gail Blazer noted that Diriker has experience helping communities and organizations match planned projects with grants for which they could be eligible to apply.
Blazer said Diriker’s software program could be a way to use economics, projected growth and demographic data to scientifically help the OPA set its future goals based on projected trends.
For example, during the November board meeting General Manager Bob Thompson suggested that one long-range goal the OPA might consider was a plan to reconfigure the Community Center’s Assateague Room into a fitness center. The suggestion drew a question over whether the trend for fitness center memberships nationally was growing or waning.
According to Acting Committee Chairman Steve Cohen, Diriker’s BEACON program could provide the data and analysis to determine whether the trend for fitness center usage in the Ocean Pines community would likely to increase or decrease over a period of time, based on the demographics and activities of the residents. It could help the community project what types of facilities, such as swimming pools, golf or fitness, would be needed over the next 10 years.
Cohen said Diriker’s presentation was the first phase of the comprehensive planning process and that it would be up to the board to decide whether to incorporate any of the BEACON analysis and proposals into that process. If the board voted to use the BEACON program when it meets during regular session on Dec. 18, Cohen said, Diriker could produce an analytical report with data specific to the OPA in four weeks.
During the work session the board was also scheduled to discuss historical artifacts, storm water drainage, environmental and natural assets and the possible development of a code of conduct.