Pines Eyes Capital Campaign Study

OCEAN PINES – Officials say a feasibility study will allow Ocean Pines to better gauge community support for a fire station capital campaign.

Last Saturday, General Manager John Viola presented the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) Board of Directors with an update on the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department (OPVFD) workgroup, which will assist the association in kickstarting a capital campaign for the construction of a new South Station.

While the group will seek a fundraising professional, Viola noted the association must first hire a consultant to create a feasibility study.

“We’ve taken an extra step on this that we’ve been told is really needed when we go through a fundraising company, and that is you really need a consultant,” he said. “You really need a feasibility study.”

To that end, Viola said the association has released a request for proposals (RFP) for a consulting firm to lead a feasibility study effort.

“This is for the feasibility study and a consultant that will help us with the next stage, which is to do an RFP for the fundraising company,” Viola explained.

The association reports the goal of the feasibility study is to understand the association’s potential for a fundraising campaign and to gauge the level of community support. Questions from potential consultants will be accepted through Oct. 14, with proposals due by Oct. 31.

“I will update the board with a recommendation from the team, probably in November,” Viola said.

In June, OPVFD leaders held a town hall meeting to discuss proposed South Station renovations, and the funding needed to make the project a reality. As officials look to bring the decades-old facility into compliance with standards set by the National Fire Protection Association, Americans with Disabilities Act and local building codes, they told community members they are proposing an extensive renovation that calls for a demolition of its living and administrative quarters and the addition of a two-story building, as well as a new bay.

“This is not the Taj Mahal,” OPVFD President Dave VanGasbeck said at the time. “We’ve worked very hard to get this down to what we believe to be the bare minimum that complies with all the requirements at this given point in time.”

Preparations for a renovation project at the South Station began last year when the department contracted with Manns Woodward Studios to complete a feasibility study. Of the options presented to the department, officials opted for an $8.6 million renovation.

OPVFD officials say state contributions totaling $1.6 million and department reserve funding in the amount of $1 million will go toward South Station improvements. The department is also seeking the community’s support to fund the remaining $6 million.

In July, however, Director Frank Daly noted the association and fire department would first have to define the information and activities required before the board could consider a referendum motion on the funding. He said an existing memorandum of understanding between OPA and the fire department excluded funding for South Station improvements.

“It basically said that to address any construction and renovation at the south fire station, there would be a joint capital campaign between the fire department and association to raise funds for such construction,” he explained.

To that end, the board voted unanimously in July to direct the general manager to form a workgroup to evaluate and select a fundraising professional for a capital fundraising effort.

In an update last week, Viola said the workgroup had not only prepared an RFP to hire a consultant but had met with several regional consultants. The workgroup had also produced an online FAQ page for the project.

“Some of the answers may change over time,” Viola said, “but I think the team has done an excellent job.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.