By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(April 25, 2019) Former Ocean Pines Board of Directors member Slobodan Trendic continued his pitch for a referendum on certain capital projects Monday night, as he told a packed room of like-minded residents that at least two major undertakings would not survive if submitted for membership approval.
About 100 residents joined Trendic for a town meeting at the Ocean Pines Library to discuss the board’s $3.185 million plan to expand the police and administration building, rebuild the country club and build a new golf cart barn.
The board had voted in favor of the motions, while Trendic abstained from police station vote, and opposed awarding contracts to rebuild the country club and golf cart barn, and then resigned in protest on April 11 when he couldn’t get a second on his motion to consider the referendum approach.
According to Trendic’s presentation Monday, the renovation of the administration building was originally expected to cost $800,000, but had climbed to $1.276 million by the first week of April.
“That’s about 50 percent over the approved budget,” Trendic said.
The clubhouse amount remained the same at $1.6 million, but the golf cart barn, which started at $120,000, according to Trendic, had climbed to $430,000 by the time the bid was awarded.
Trendic asked whether homeowners should be asked to approve a $2 million capital expenditure to replace the golf club house and the cart barn, and whether there should be a strategic long-term sustainable plan for the golf course amenities to be developed and shared with the homeowners?
“My answer is yes, and I think that’s why we’re all here tonight … we’re ready to talk about that,” Trendic said.
Trendic also presented a survey taken of homeowners in 2008 and 2018 to show the disparity between the years and residents’ discontent with the clubhouse.
According to Trendic’s data, in 2008, a survey produced 3,601 responses, or 40 percent of the population, many of whom didn’t play golf because of the price, while 36 percent of Ocean Pines residents did play golf outside the association.
In 2018, the numbers drastically changed: around 80 percent of homeowners did not return their surveys and of those who did, only 10 percent were in their 40s or younger.
Trendic told the audience that 70 percent of the respondents said golf was not or was only somewhat important. When asked if they would agree to an increase in assessment to improve amenities and services, more than three fourths of the responders said they would not.
Trendic also pointed out that 77 percent of respondents rated the board as poor, fair, or no opinion.
“If you are running, you better be prepared for some critiquing,” Trendic said. “Believe me, I was on the board … it’s not easy. I have some former colleagues here,” he said of directors Steve Tuttle and Frank Daly, who were in the audience. “And I know they would say the same. It’s a tough job to be on the board.”
Trendic then revealed his proposed petition seeking a referendum on whether the membership supports the board’s plans to build a new golf clubhouse and golf cart barn, and whether property owners want a referendum-based approval for any single capital expenditure worth $1 million or more.
The petition needs 10 percent of the association membership, or 845 signatures to be recognized by the board.
“What the board passed on April 6, two of those would not have been possible without the membership approval,” Trendic said, referring to the country club and police expansion projects. “The second [question] is here because of the cart barn building … I don’t know about you, but $430,000 on a cart barn … I just don’t see how that would cost so much money.”
Trendic then opened the forum for questions.
“I live near the golf course and I went in there this evening, and I don’t golf,” one resident began. “Why would we need to build a new one? It doesn’t make sense. It just needs some new carpeting and paint. Why would we shut it down to the people that do like to golf and then go even more in the hole, and why spend all this money when it doesn’t generate a lot of revenue?”
“What the board and the association tried to do years ago is to renovate,” Trendic responded. “The mindset was that it can be renovated to the point where it will meet the needs of the association and that’s why we spent $520,000.
Joe Reynolds, another association member, asked about the legitimacy of the referendum.
“Without suggesting your referendum questions or petition questions are right, wrong or indifferent … I think you need to go back to the drawing board on these three issues,” he said. “Primarily based on the bylaws. If you ask a question and it goes to referendum, do you approve the board spending the money and the answer comes back no, what’s going to prevent the board from ignoring it?”
Reynolds also recommended the use of an attorney to read over the bylaws and make sure the language complies with the bylaws.
Trendic agreed with the idea of soliciting advice from an attorney.