Stimulus Package …. OPA-Style
commentary by Joe Reynolds
For some inexplicable reason several OPA Board members seem intent on turning over control of OPA’s bayside property in Ocean City to Leighton Moore. Sanity almost prevailed during a special board meeting to discuss the issue when Ray Unger introduced a motion to end negotiations. It failed on 4-3 vote with Unger, McLaughlin, and Rakow voting YES; Stevens, Clarke, Purcell, and Zawacki voting against.
Based on board member comments, the latest revised contract from Leighton Moore is less favorable than the lease received six months ago. Director Clarke says the deal will bring OPA $7 million over the term of the lease. As a practical matter the lease provides OPA will continue receiving about the same yearly lease amount Seacrets (Leighton Moore) now pays for only after 5 P.M. use of our parking areas in Ocean City. This would amount to $6 million or so over the 99-term of a new lease, sweetened by $1 million up front paid over four or five years.
That’s how Clarke arrives at his $7 million number. Of course, under the lease Moore would have the right, along with heirs and assigns, to act as owner of the property for 99 years. OPA’s property takes on special value for Leighton Moore probably because the parcel divides his holdings in the area. A 99-year lease would allow consolidation into a single parcel for development.
In other words, as director Bill Rakow pointed out during the meeting, once Moore obtains a signed contract from OPA he could, for example, turn over the lease as a part of a combined parcel that might be very valuable to some large corporation like Marriott.
Does the $7 million sound like a lot of money? Perhaps, until one divides the amount by 99 years and then by 8400 association members. Each association member's potential benefit amounts to about $8.50 per year over the 99-year term. Don't spend your stimulus money all in one place.
Incredibly, while negotiations are ongoing, some board members are publicly making statements denigrating the value of the property. If OPA continues negotiations long enough we could end up paying Leighton Moore to lease OPA property.
Every association member should view the video available on OceanPinesForum.com, then decide if you would want this board to negotiate a contract for the sale or lease of your home or anything of value on your behalf, much less any of OPA's valuable common property assets.
Of course the board would say it will send any deal to the membership via a referendum. Clarke says the board will work to obtain the best deal possible. When asked how he would determine the best deal possible, he replied, "Same as with any real estate negotiation, by the results of the referendum. Do they like it, or not?"
The "they," of course, are association members. Clarke appears ready to send almost any offer to referendum and decide afterwards if the deal is good or bad based on the referendum result. Sounds all very democratic.... until one realizes the vast majority of voting association members may only know what the board tells them in the ballot package. Does anyone think for one moment the board will, for example, explain the potential benefit as $8.50 per lot per year? Dave Stevens, inexplicably leading what amounts to a high intensity conga line supporting Seacrets owner Leighton Moore, went on ad nauseum about how this lease money is going to keep assessments from going up.
As I mentioned, don't spend your $8.50 stimulus per year all in one place if this nonsensical deal is approved by the board, sent to association members loaded with assessment lowering propaganda, and approved by an uninformed electorate.
Keep in mind OPA is in-perpetuity; OPA is financially strong; OPA has no need to essentially dispose of any amenity real estate holdings; OPA has no idea how the Ocean City property might benefit association members in the future; OPA would be effectively giving up control of a real estate asset representing one of the last Ocean City holdings that extend from the ocean to the bay.
Finally, ask yourself why some board members, especially Stevens and Clarke, seem so intent on turning over control of the bayside property to Leighton Moore for $8.50 per association member per year. Most of all, don’t just take my commentary as gospel…… view the video of the board discussion.
Adding insult to injury, it came to light at yesterday’s board meeting that Seacrets has built structures on the OPA property, apparently without OPA approval. Board reaction? I’d suggest a yawn, but a yawn would have been strong reaction compared to the actual reaction. You can’t make this stuff up.