OP Community Center Referendum Date Set
OCEAN PINES - The new Ocean Pines Community Center referendum question will be sent out April 18, the Ocean Pines Board of Directors decided Wednesday.
'It's in the hands of the populace,' said Ocean Pines Association President Glenn Duffy. 'Everyone I speak to is in favor. We'll have to wait and see.'
Ocean Pines property owners will vote on this ballot question: 'Do you approve the Ocean Pines Association continuing construction of the new Ocean Pines Community Center at a cost estimate of 5.4 million dollars?'
A public hearing will be held on the topic on April 14 at 9 a.m. at the Ocean Pines Country Club. Property owners should receive the ballot itself shortly thereafter. The ballot must be returned to the OPA by May 16. The votes will be counted that day at close of business.
A temporary restraining order issued earlier this month, halting work on the project, prompted the new vote. Ocean Pines resident Marty Clarke brought a lawsuit against the Ocean Pines Association (OPA) after a petition drive failed to force a new referendum over the increased costs for the construction of the new community center.
The first referendum approved spending $3.9 million on a 29,000-square-foot building, but rising construction costs have pushed the price tag to $5.4 million.
While a groundbreaking ceremony was held in December, no actual site work had begun by the time the restraining order was issued on March 9.
The cover letter for the ballot attempts to make the case for the continuation of the project, emphasizing expenditures already made and the costs of halting the project with nothing built.
'You should be aware that the Association has incurred more than $900,000 in out of pocket expenses to begin work•€¦Your Board of Directors asks that you vote to APPROVE the continuation of the project at an estimated cost of 5.4 million dollars. We believe this amount reasonably represents the actual cost to build this building if we can undertake it without further delay,' the letter reads.
Duffy said the Board would not campaign for a positive vote this time, unlike in 2005.
'I just hope the community passes the referendum for the second time,' he said. 'This whole thing is •€˜no progress at any cost' and I don't think that's the spirit of Ocean Pines.'A big majority voted against a $5 million community center in 2001, said Clarke. 'We'll see what happens at $5.4 million,' he said.