Ocean Pines Boat Ramp Project In Limbo

BERLIN – Plans to replace the White Horse Park boat ramp are on hold as Ocean Pines Association officials investigate the lack of contractor interest in the project.

The majority of the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors voted not to award the $255,000 contract for the boat ramp to the lone company submitting a bid for the project.

“It behooves us to find out if the RFP [Request For Proposals] was reasonable,” said Dave Stevens, president of the board of directors. “I’m a little bit troubled by this.”

According to Bob Thompson, general manager of the association, five contractors attended a pre-bid meeting for the project. Only one, Fisher Marine, submitted a proposal.

Several board members were concerned with the fact that the association only received one bid.

“It’s not a bid. It’s a sole source contract,” director Marty Clarke said.

Director Jack Collins agreed.

“We have a fiduciary responsibility to the folks out there in that audience,” he said at the Oct. 23 board meeting. “It may be the best bid but I don’t understand why only one came forward.”

Stevens said the board needed to find out if the RFP was “slanted to one contractor.”

Director Sharyn O’Hare said calling the process, which was handled by Thompson, “slanted” was completely inappropriate.

“If four people chose not to bid, that was their business decision,” she said.

Stevens responded that a RFP could be written with the best of intentions and still favor one contractor.

Clarke said that with one just bid board members had no way of comparing costs.

“We do have an oversight duty,” he said.

Director Tom Terry said he didn’t think contacting other contractors was fair to the one that had submitted a bid. He said if this bid wasn’t selected the association would have to redo the RFP.

The motion to approve the contract with Fisher Marine failed by a 3-4 vote, and Stevens directed staff to contact the other contractors who’d attended the pre-bid meeting to find out why they hadn’t pursued the project. He said if it seemed a change in schedule would produce more bids a new RFP would be issued. Otherwise, the board would reconsider the bid it had.

The decision drew criticism from Cirector Bill Cordwell.

“If you keep putting projects off we’ll never get anything done,” he said. “Are we supposed to ride people for bids?”

Resident Dennis Hudson, a member of the budget advisory committee, also spoke against the decision.

“You do not do what you’re about to do,” he said. “You destroy your credibility with vendors.”