Improvement Projects Advance With Board Support

OCEAN PINES – Requests to fund an irrigation system upgrade, racquet sports building improvements and a tiki bar expansion highlighted a recent meeting of the Ocean Pines Board of Directors.

Last Saturday, General Manager John Viola came before the board with several capital requests. The first request, he said, was to contract with Irrigation Services Inc. for the first phase of the association’s golf course irrigation project.

“The irrigation system at the golf course is probably over 50 years old, 30 to 50 years old,” he said. “There was information out there that we did put in a second system years ago that was some adding of sprinklers … But the system was basically antiquated. We are coming forward today looking for approval to start replacing it.”

Proposed capital items for the fiscal year 2024-2025 budget include funding for a new irrigation system at the golf course. Viola told board members last week the first phase would include the replacement of pump stations at fairways one and nine and the range.

“Apparently the driving range was done years ago,” Viola said. “It certainly didn’t meet the standards we expected.”

Viola said the project would total $934,000. Officials noted Irrigation Services was the lowest bidder for the project, with two other bids coming in at $995,000 and $1.07 million respectively.

“We’ll be signing a contract in the next couple of months, assuming that we get approval today,” he said.

When asked about the project’s timeline, Viola said the association must first complete the contract. Once that is done, he said work would start in the fall.

“In January or February, I hope to have the contract, which will go through legal,” he explained. “We’re looking at the bulk of the work to be done between November 2024 and March 2025, which would have minimal disruption to the golf course. If we can do work before that, we will.”

After further discussion, the board voted unanimously to approve the capital request.

Viola also came to the board last week with a request to proceed with improvements at the racquet sports building. He said the project would focus on renovations of the restrooms, interior storage and director’s office.

“Each month this year we will be doing renovations there, assuming I get approval to go forward today,” he said. “The biggest requests we have received from the advisory committee are bathrooms, increasing the restrooms.”

Viola said he was requesting the board authorize the association to use the Whayland Company to complete the project, in partnership with Ocean Pines Association staff. He said the cost of the project would total $140,000.

“I’m excited to have a team in place to do it,” he said. “It’s a hybrid between our team, as well as two outside contractors who I look at as part of the team. Hopefully this will start sometime in January or February.”

With no discussion, the board voted unanimously to approve the capital request.

The third request Viola presented to the board last Saturday was the expansion of the tiki bar, located at the association’s Yacht Club. He said the expansion would allow the tiki bar to better serve patrons.

“We have a tiki bar at the yacht club. It’s a very popular place. With that said, it needs enhancing,” he said. “It needs replacement to fully be able to reach out to the customers, so that we can fulfill the customer requirements. Right now, it doesn’t.”

Viola said the association was working with Matt Ortt Companies and an outside contractor, the Whayland Company, to complete the project. He said the project totaled $197,500 and would be completed by Memorial Day.

“Again, the work would be done with a combination of the public works team as well as the outside contractor we’ve been utilizing over the years …,” he said. “The Whayland Company has done this building, as well as many other projects with us. They will be doing the outside work.”

The board once again voted unanimously to approve the capital request.

Lastly, Viola presented the board with a request to construct a new pavilion at the Worcester County Veterans Memorial. He said the pavilion would replace an existing gazebo and would be funded in a 50/50 split with the Veterans Memorial Foundation.

“It will be something similar to what we have at White Horse Park,” he explained. “The Veterans Memorial Foundation will be contributing half of it. So right now, the estimate is $100,000, with $50,000 I believe the board will approve as a match.”

Viola said the Veterans Memorial Foundation came forward with the contribution, and the board had directed staff to work with an outside contractor on the project. He said the Whayland Company would build the pavilion with a $50,000 contribution from the association.

Jacobs, however, questioned the foundation’s $50,000 donation.

“The cost is split 50/50,” he said. “Do we know the foundation has the money or has moved the money?”

Association President Rick Farr, a member of the foundation board, confirmed it did.

“They do have the money to do so,” he said.

With no further discussion, the board voted to approve the capital request for the pavilion project.

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.