Ocean Pines Playground Replacement Options Weighed

BERLIN – Barbara Kissel spearheaded the community-wide fundraising effort that brought in thousands of dollars to help build a playground at Manklin Meadows.

In 2003 she and fellow volunteers raised the money, researched playground options and even helped build the structure. Kissel was shocked to see last weekend that the playground had been abruptly torn down.

“It was her group that raised close to $80,000 in donations to build the playground we just tore down,” said resident and former board member Marty Clarke. “I talked to her two days ago in tears.”

The issue of the playground came up at Monday’s Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors work session, as staff had submitted recommendations on replacement structures. Clarke urged the board to consult with the community during the replacement process, as residents had played such a big role in constructing the original playground. Community donations funded more than half the cost of the structure.

“That money came out of people’s pockets,” he said. “These people, they have dirt under their nails from that playground and don’t even know it’s gone.”

The Manklin Meadows playground was closed to the public in November after management was made aware of safety concerns identified in 2014 that had never been addressed. At the time, Brett Hill, the association’s interim general manager, said it was closed strictly out of caution. It was then he instructed Ocean Pines Public Works to fence off the playground and begin tearing it down.

At this week’s work session, Hill presented the board with playground prices from various companies and recommended purchasing a new structure from Play World for $188,100.

“It provided many options as far as use for the kids,” he said.

Hill said he was looking for guidance from the board on whether to move forward with the project now or to wait until the new budget year, which begins May 1. The installation of the new equipment is expected to take 90 days.

Director Dave Stevens pointed out there was no cost savings to waiting to do the project in the new fiscal year.

“I don’t see the benefit to waiting,” he said, adding that if the board waited the playground would not be open during the busy summer season.

Director Slobodan Trendic agreed.

“There’s no reason to wait,” he said.
“The children should really have it available for the season.”

Tom Herrick, president of the board, said he wasn’t against moving ahead with the new playground but wanted more information.

“I have some concerns on the recommendation,” he said.

Herrick suggested the board send the information on the potential play structures and their prices to the recreation and parks advisory committee for input.

“I think your recommendation is wise,” Hill replied. “If we pull the trigger in January we have February, March and April. Knowing our rough timelines we’ll probably be up for Memorial Day which is the start of summer.”

The board agreed to reconsider the matter in January after the advisory committee had offered its input.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.