OCEAN PINES – Officials in Ocean Pines have decided to remove a proposed family night function from the community’s adults-only swimming pool this summer after actions taken by the acting general manager to change pool operations without the knowledge of the board created uproar among some residents.
In a special meeting last week to hear and address residents’ concerns, the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) Board of Directors voted to remove Sunday Family Funday from the Oasis pool, an event which was scheduled from 2-6 p.m. Sunday evenings throughout the summer season.
Realization about changes in the pool schedule came after the association released its spring and summer Activity Guide earlier this month. Not only would the association be opening its adults-only pool to families once a week, but it would also offer an adults-only swim those same evenings at the Swim and Racquet Club pool.
For many residents who vocalized their objections to the board in last week’s meeting, the source of contention revolved around the accessibility and appeal of the Oasis pool and the actions Acting General Manager Brett Hill took in establishing Sunday Family Funday.
Resident Kathy Brennan said Sundays were often busy operational days at Oasis, and explained that opening the pool to families would make it more crowded. She said the Oasis pool is the only amenity that offers adults a place that is all their own.
“I’m upset about this because I think we have a lot of amenities for families,” she said. “I suspect that the adults with small children that want to come to the Oasis pool would also like to drink while their kids are in the pool. I don’t think we are asking a lot of you all. We are asking to maintain the Oasis pool for adults for the entire summer.”
Resident Barbara Mann said alcohol was a reason why families wanted a weekly event at the Oasis pool.
“I understand this is about the young families wanting a bar,” she said. “I don’t ever remember hiring a babysitter and saying, ‘Make sure they have enough beer.’ I never took my child to the pool or beach and made sure I had alcohol with me.”
Board member Cheryl Jacobs, however, said Family Fun Night, another event which was held on Wednesdays at the Oasis pool in years past, has always centered on family, not drinking.
“It was truly a family affair with hot dogs, hamburgers, Cokes and chips,” she said. “It wasn’t all about having the adults being able to drink.”
Hill explained the decision to move Family Fun Night from the Oasis pool to the Swim and Racquet Club came after speaking with county officials about a parking variance on the Yacht Club premises. From contingencies in that variance, Hill discovered that the association was keeping the pool open past its operational hours. The family night, which ran from 6-8 p.m., went beyond the Oasis pool’s 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. operation.
“When I approached them about that agreement is when I found out about everything else behind here,” he said.
“There was no documentation as to what this variance was and how we could overcome it.”
Resident Ted Moroney, however, told the board that Hill could have simply asked for a one-hour variance, which would have kept Family Fun Night on Wednesday evenings at the Oasis pool.
“A one hour variance and we wouldn’t be sitting here tonight,” he said.
Jacobs explained she was never informed that the association could ask for another variance and was led to believe there was no other alternative than to move family events, such as Family Fun Night, to either another time or location.
“All it turns out we had to do was ask for a variance and we could have the Family Fun Nights back on Wednesday evenings the way we’ve always had them,” she said.
In a public comment portion of the meeting, resident Emmet McGovern said he was in favor of bringing another family related activity back to the Oasis pool, and explained that by having Sunday Family Funday his family would be able to relive the past.
“It was a very special time and the kids really enjoyed those three hours at the Oasis,” he said.
After Hill introduced another family oriented function that would meet the Oasis’s 7 p.m. closing, conversations brought forth by the board revealed that he had not consulted his colleagues before making the decision to add Sunday Family Funday to the schedule.
Board Secretary Slobodan Trendic said the oversight, as well as what actions should be taken, would be discussed in the future.
“The fact remains that the process was not followed,” he said. “The discussions should have happened at the board level and at the community level. Let the lesson be learned from this, this should never happen again.”
The board ultimately voted to remove Sunday Family Funday from the Oasis pool during the aforementioned time and agreed to discuss alternatives in a later meeting. The board also agreed to look into a portion of the association’s legislation, which outline the duties of the general manager.
Hill told the board and attendees he did his best with the information that was provided to him.
“I tried to make the best use of circumstances I walked in to,” he said. “If I upset anyone, I’m sorry. That was not the intention.”