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Wood Duck Park issues settled
By Bob Lassahn

When a group of kayak and canoe enthusiasts identified Wood Duck Park as a desirable launch area and approached the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) with a request to adequately mark the park access points it seemed a fairly innocuous request, but it set the stage for a series of debates and divided members of the community for several months. But the issue was not especially new to the community and in fact last reared its head more than a decade ago.

In April 2005 the lead item in a report from a park advisory committee to the OPA Board of Directors suggested that all access easements into the Wood Duck Park should be opened, wet areas filled, a wooden walkway and a fishing/crabbing pier installed. The report also listed the need for parking spaces, a gazebo, benches and landscaping.

While various individuals and groups have requested the marking of public access points to the park none have advocated the kind of development suggested by the park committee report and residents living adjacent to the park oppose any such development. In May the Ocean Pines Board of Directors further delayed any decision on the future of the park, opting to come up with a plan and meet with the residents adjoining the parcel.

Following consultation with residents at the June 15 meeting, board member Mark Venit introduced a series of motions regarding the future of Wood Duck Park. The first motion established that OPA would mark all access points with appropriate signage and work with residents adjacent to the easements to keep them open for pedestrian traffic. Completion of the access marking is projected for July 1. The motion was passed unanimously.

A second motion, also by Venit, called for installation of a sign serving notice to visitors of park rules. These would include a notice that the park is closed at dusk and any necessary warnings against swimming, etc. It also specified that OPA would mark the boundaries of the park with shrubs. According to General Manager Dave Ferguson these items should be complete by about August 1. This motion also passed unanimously. 

The third and final motion from Venit called for installation of two benches near the shoreline of the park. When queried regarding feasibility Ferguson interjected a comment that the residents oppose benches and there was some discussion regarding whether there might be conflict with environmental regulations, but the issue pressed ahead and when the vote was called it passed by a five to three margin (Board President Dan Stachurski left the meeting shortly before the vote). Board Vice President Skip Carey provided the only dissenting vote.

After much debate and speculation about the future of Wood Duck Park the board settled on a minimalist approach. The inclusion of benches possibly carry it a step beyond what some adjacent residents would have liked, but apparently the threat of any massive development in the quiet park has passed.

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Check out the following stories in this week's print edition of The Courier:

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Uploaded: 6/23/2005