OCEAN PINES – Discussions on the purchase of an electronic sign for the north gate entrance highlighted a list of new business items at last week’s Ocean Pines board meeting.
Last Saturday, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors agreed to consider a proposal to retrofit the north gate sign and make it electronic. The project, expected to cost the association roughly $21,000, could now advance to a town hall meeting for a formal presentation and further discussion.
“At this point, all the committee is seeking is an opportunity to make a suitable presentation, with the appropriate expertise, to the board,” said Director Steve Jacobs, board liaison for the Ocean Pines Communications Committee.
For a number of years, the communications committee has been actively working on plans to upgrade the association’s information boards with electronic signs. The group has even gone so far as to seek a county text amendment to permit on-premises electronic signs within an established residential community.
Back on the agenda for discussion this week, Jacobs told board members the committee was seeking a retrofit of the north gate sign.
“I am told this issue has come up before the board in the past and the primary issue was relating to county zoning and county regulations …,” he said. “From what I’ve been told those issues with the county have all been resolved with the help of Commissioner [Chip] Bertino, among others.”
While the communications committee has received two bids from electric sign companies, Jacobs said the group was simply seeking an opportunity to present their plans to the board.
“This is one sign that would be installed with the approval of the board,” he said. “The committee does have an interest in getting this on the radar for the upcoming budget, which is why we have the charging document today.”
Director Frank Daly said while he understood the desire to replace the informational boards with electronic signage, he did not support the expenditure request.
“These electronic signs are like an expenditure in search of a mission …,” he said. “It looks like nothing more than ‘we don’t like the old and we want something new,’ which I perfectly understand.”
Daly noted, however, that the money could be spent to support other projects, including an effort to rename the Ocean Pines skate park in honor of Gavin Knupp, a local 14-year-old killed in a hit-and-run accident in July.
“Someone is talking about renaming the skate park. Put the $21,000 into renaming the skate park. Because I can see people use it and I can see more benefit to it …,” he said. “The sign, I don’t see any of that.”
Director Colette Horn argued that the use of an electronic sign could not only provide community members with timely information, but address safety issues.
“The most important thing to me is staff safety …,” she said. “I don’t like seeing our staff members out there with traffic going back and forth.”
She encouraged a town hall meeting to present the committee’s plans to the public.
“I think we have 13 signs,” she said. “I think the idea here was to eliminate some of those signs and have timely messaging in key areas in a medium that doesn’t pose safety hazards to our staff.”
For his part, Director Stuart Lakernick disagreed with the purchase.
“I think we’re looking at a want versus a need …,” he said. “I don’t personally see the need.”
Daly and Association President Doug Parks said they supported having further discussions regarding the proposed signage.
“The notion of a town hall meeting is intriguing,” he said. “We had committed to having town hall meetings this year, hopefully at least two. Perhaps that’s one of the items we can have as a potential topic.”