OP residents want center to move forward
By Bob Lassahn
In order to give Ocean Pines residents an input into the recent developments regarding the construction of a new community center, the board of directors of the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) held a special meeting on Tuesday March 14. Through a referendum held last summer, the board gained approval to construct a 29,000 square foot (sf) facility at the sports core area, adjacent to the Southgate Pond, for an approximate cost of $3.9 million to be financed by the sale of OPA properties.
The project hit a major snag when the board brought SPN, a construction management firm on board and checked the projected cost figures on the building. What the board had once believed could be built for something around $4 million had escalated to $6 million. The special meeting was called to obtain member comments and potentially glean some ideas that could move the project forward.
The country club meeting room used by the board went to overflow with more than 70 members present as the meeting was called to order. Board President Glenn Duffy greeted those in attendance and quickly surrendered the meeting to Director Dan Stachurski, the board’s designated “point man” on the project. Stachurski announced that in contrast to normal board procedure comments from the members were not limited to five minutes and the board would answer questions. Also present to address questions were Finith Jernigan of Design Atlantic Ltd. (DAL), the architect, and Nelson Young of SPN.
Mr. Stachurski’s opening statement provided a summary of where the project stood, alternatives explored (including 16,000 sf and 21,000 sf buildings) and some background on how the size requirements were derived. He also dropped the news that a price to renovate the existing community hall had been received that morning and the estimated cost to meet codes was $1,552,209. He then commented that he was considering placing a motion before the board during their meeting on the following day to build what they could afford, a 16,000 sf structure.
As a microphone was carried through the audience about 20 separate exchanges took place with the board and the business representatives. Some individuals spoke more than once. There was frustration, confusion and anger obvious in some individuals, but the underlying theme seemed generally positive toward building a new community center. There were some who insisted the process should go back to square one and a new referendum must be held, but most wanted to try to do something and explore alternatives. There was a consistent thread that another referendum was necessary if any provisions of the existing referendum would be violated.
The board members, with the exception of Janet Kelley, all seemed inclined to explore any possible avenue before abandoning the project. Ms. Kelley, the sole candidate on the 2005 ticket opposing the community center referendum, remained adamant that the process needed to start over and incorporate the preferences of those in opposition to the current referendum. Mr. Stachurski summed up that the question would be put before the board for a decision on whether to proceed, develop detail construction plans, reduce costs wherever possible and explore what might be done to obtain the 29,000 sf and meet the parameters of the referendum.
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