OP Fencing Sparks Concern

SNOW HILL – The wooden fences concealing the pumping stations in Ocean Pines are not aesthetically pleasing and are in poor repair, according to a local citizen.

R. Grant Helvey Sr. of Ocean Pines wrote to the County Commissioners to express his concern over the fences in April.

“I contend that the Worcester County Water Department is failing to maintain the aesthetics of their pumping stations in Ocean Pines in accordance with the standards required of other property owners in the community. It appears as if they do not hold themselves to the standards and regulations that the Ocean Pines Property Owners Association hold the citizenry too [sic] and that some county organizations have turned a blind eye to what would be egregious infractions by other citizens,” wrote Helvey.

Public Works Deputy Director John Ross told the commissioners Tuesday, “We’ve typically used the wood stockade fence.”

Public Works has set aside funding for the last two years to gradually replace the fences around the pumping stations with new stockade fencing. Four fences have been replaced with about 20 remaining to be updated.

“We’ve been systematically doing that,” Ross said.

Ross suggested referring the matter to the Ocean Pines Water and Wastewater Advisory Committee.

Commissioner Judy Boggs agreed, saying, “We need to refer this back to the water and wastewater committee. Those are people who live there.”

The cost of the fences is part of operating the service area and is paid by the enterprise fund for that service area.

Stockade fencing is reasonably priced and easy to repair, according to Public Works Director John Tustin. When repairing a station, crews sometimes need to remove a section of fence, which can be done in house instead of relying on a contractor with this type of fencing. The fences themselves can be repaired by Public Works as well.

Helvey feels that the fences are “unsightly” and the look is detrimental to public perception.

Tustin pointed out in a memo that many landscaping features are made from weathered wood in Ocean Pines, similar to the look of the stockade fencing.

“I am certain there are locations where the aesthetics could be improved by changing fencing materials,” Tustin wrote. “Our operators tend to look at ease of operations ahead of other considerations which is why the advisory board could be helpful in this.”