OPA Awards Boat Ramp Contract After More Talks; RFP Process Questions Remain

BERLIN – After putting off a decision last week, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors agreed Monday to award the White Horse Park boat ramp contract to Fisher Marine.

The board voted 4-1 to have Fisher Marine replace the White Horse Park boat ramp for $255,000. The board delayed the decision last week in an effort to find out why Fisher Marine was the only company to submit a bid for the project when five companies attended the pre-bid meeting.

Director Marty Clarke, the lone director to vote against moving forward with the project, said he had no issue with the boat ramp bid but rather management’s habit of failing to get multiple bids for major projects.

“I think it’s a good bid,” he said. “What smells to high heaven is the process. It stinks.”

Dave Stevens, president of the board of directors, said he and director Pat Renaud had contacted three of the companies that had attended the pre-bid meeting but did not pursue the project. He said they indicated that there was nothing the association could have done differently to get them to bid. He added that the association should reexamine its Request For Proposals (RFP) process in the future though.

“There was no question they felt they did not have time to respond to the RFP,” Stevens said.

Bob Thompson, general manager of the association, interjected that one of the potential bidders thought the job was too small, one couldn’t get the necessary bond and one was busy until the end of 2015.

“There was nothing wrong with the process,” he said.

In light of the board’s concern at receiving only one bid, Thompson said in the future he would notify the board as soon as he realized that was the case.

Clarke asked why Thompson waited until the fall to put out the RFP. Thompson replied that it had taken nearly a year to get the required permits for the project.

Clarke went on to say he thought recent criticism from residents, who said the board would lose credibility with vendors if they contacted companies to ask why they hadn’t bid, was unfounded.

“I’ve been bidding 40 years,” Clarke said. “If you get one bid out of five, you’ve already lost credibility.”

Clarke said Thompson continually approached the board with single bids for pressing projects.

“We’re never going to get multiple bids if we don’t put our foot down and demand it,” Clarke said.

Stevens agreed.

“It’s definitely an issue,” he said.

Director Tom Terry said nothing could have been done differently on the boat ramp project.

“It wouldn’t have made a doggone bit of difference if we bid this in August or June,” he said.

Terry pointed out that none of the potential bidders had appealed to the association for more time.

“I don’t think anything egregious happened here at all,” Terry said.

Stevens urged the board to vote on the issue at hand even if changes needed to be made for future projects.

“If there’s a fault in the process, we’re not going to fix it at this table now,” he said.

Director Jack Collins abstained from voting. Director Sharyn O’Hare was not present.