OCEAN PINES — The Ocean Pines racket players turned out last week to voice their concerns about a renovation project at Manklin Meadows.
The two-hour meeting was occupied mostly by General Manager Bob Thompson’s presentation about the community’s proposed plans and the impassioned public comments that followed it.
Jim Freeman, president of the Ocean Pines Platform Tennis Association and his wife June, addressed Thompson directly.
“With all three of the last platform tennis presidents you have discussed and budgeted for new courts,” said June Freeman. “We do not have enough courts. We play 12 months a year. We shovel and dry the courts in the winter. Currently, we do not have enough courts and we wait in long lines, we are asking you Mr. Thompson that you follow through on your word and your commitment to the community.”
Jim Freeman followed her adding suggestions for the project.
“No one’s ever talked to me or the office about this proposal which I think is a disgrace,” he said.
The Manklin Meadows project consists of a series of renovations and additions to the community’s playground, gardens, new parking as well as the racket sport courts.
Thompson explained that the project had gone out to bid, but that the only bid that had come back came in much higher than Ocean Pines had budgeted for. Questions arose from the board as to how the project had become a bit of a quagmire in such significant budget issues.
“I’m just not clear as to how we got from $365,000 to $750,000,” said Director Jack Collins. “I think we have to understand as a board what we’re committing our membership to in terms of expense.”
Recognizing the obvious problems with a cost increase of that size, Thompson has proposed splitting the plan into two phases to allow for progress to be made despite the setback.
“We’ve had to regroup and take a look at how we might still accomplish goals for the area.” said Thompson, “We’re trying to reduce costs and get it moving.”
Thompson explained that the storm water drainage systems in the original outline of the plan were inadequate and that various soil tests had to be performed before a firm number for the work could be provided but the board’s continued to express their doubts in the plans current form.
Director Tom Herrick proposed adjustments to scheduling of the work and scaling the plans back across the board.
“I don’t think that when the board originally approved the plan they realized it would be over $700,000,” he said.
Collins also continued questioning the project fundamentally.
“I think this whole situation should be deferred till the committee meeting in April,” said Collins. “Let’s do what is not only in the best interest of the people who represent the racket sports players but the community as a whole.”