Voices From The Readers
Senator Ignore Local Constituents
Senator Lowell Stoltzfus, by his actions in lobbying other state senators to temporarily kill a bill banning hydraulic clam dredging in Maryland's coastal bays, has demonstrated that he is willing to ignore his Worcester county constituents.
Ocean City, Worcester County, the Assateague Coastal Trust, the Md. Saltwater Sports Fisherman's Association, the Ocean Pines Anglers and other groups have all condemned this dredging activity which damages bay bottom habitat and life that lives there, which damages sea grasses and fouls bays by generating large plumes of sediment that smother bay life and fills in channels.
In spite of local support to eliminate hydraulic clam dredging, representing tens of thousands of residents and millions of visitors, Stolzfus has been willing to use his political craftiness to undermine the Senate bill.
In the past, up to 30 hydraulic clamming boats, (only a couple local) have dredged our shallow bays continuously from October to May at the same time as we are spending millions in an attempt to improve our deteriorating water quality and shrinking sea grasses.
I urge residents to express your opinions and remember that when you vote for someone they are supposed to represent you.
No Orioles Coverage?
I eagerly opened this morning's paper, thinking that on Monday, April 2, all becomes right with the world again because it is Opening Day.
That was when I learned that there would be no Orioles TV for me this season, at least not much, because Mediacom does not carry the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, where most Orioles and Nationals games will be broadcast.
So every Orioles and Nats fan in Bishopville, Showell, much of Ocean Pines and all of southern Delaware will have to suffer through a season without their favorite team as a summer event. This season, perhaps the breakout year for pitcher Daniel Cabrera, Eric Bedard's first 20-win season and the first year for new Nationals' manager Manny Acta, and fans of local baseball who have the misfortune of being in Mediacom service areas are blind.
For me, it is as if spring and summer have been carved from the calendar.
I can only hope that enough disappointed baseball fans rise from their winter lethargy and demand that Mediacom add MASN to their lineup. There area a lot of transplanted Os and Nats fans down here on the lower shore. Mediacom can be reached at 1-866-755-2225. Please call and demand your rights as a fan.
It will be a long, hot, miserable baseball-free summer.
A press release from the Ocean Pines Association on Wednesday reported, 'Effective immediately, Mediacom is carrying MASN on channel 9 and MASN2 on digital channel 239 for its subscribers residing within its Delaware and Maryland markets. MASN2 will be carried on Mediacom's expanded basic cable in 2008.'
Pines Property Owner Could Save Tax Money
There is an opportunity for some Ocean Pines property owners to save on both real estate taxes and assessments.
Last year OPA adopted an assessment increase abatement policy, based on the Worcester County/State of Maryland real estate tax relief program. If you qualify for the County/State program, OPA will not charge you the $150 assessment increase for this year.
This assessment increase abatement was highlighted in red on last year's assessment invoice. This year it has not been advertised at all by OPA, even though the money to provide for it is in the 2007-2008 budget.
Call the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation at 410-632-1196, Ext 6 to learn how to apply and qualify for the County/State program, which will qualify you for the OPA assessment increase abatement.
From now until April 15, for assistance from an AARP Tax Aide in completing the Worcester County/State application call 1-800-944-7403 and request form HTC-60.
Recall Holiday's Meaning
The Easter Bunny comes this Sunday.
He'll bring us sweetness (candy), beauty (pastel and bright colors), life (eggs), innocence (through children) and simplicity (unquestioned belief/faith).
Hmm. Since he can't talk, I wonder if he's joyfully celebrating the victorious resurrection of God's Son, Jesus Christ.
As we follow his refreshing, renewing and hopeful lead, my prayer is that we (and especially I) consider this festive focus all year.
In our daily bombardment of civic concerns, I, for one, habitually struggle with faithfully "seek(ing) first" God and His Kingdom, which the Bible mentions no less than 32 times. Therefore, this is an open, standing and welcoming invitation to any and all who wish, to remind me, anytime, to do so.
If only we can/will, the bountiful blessings will be astounding. All comments always welcome 410-430-0535; email@example.com.
Who Is S.T.O.P.?
S.T.O.P. members have been called everything from being naysayers to nutcases. Actually we are your neighbors. We are members of the Ocean Pines Association, Inc. and represent every section; we are conservatives and liberals; we are Republican and Democrat. We have one trait in common however, we all love Ocean Pines, Berlin, Ocean City, Worcester County, our home, or home away from home. We are just like you.
In a month or so, we all will be faced with a decision on a new referendum question. The referendum is to authorize another $1.5 million that our Board of Directors tells us is needed for the construction of the proposed new Community Center. This vote is made more important by the fact that the membership was divided down the middle on the 2005 referendum, which only passed by 214 votes.
Over the next four weeks, your neighbors, fellow Association members, and friends who support S.T.O.P. would like to take the opportunity afforded to us by this local newspaper to articulate what S.T.O.P. and its supporters are all about and why we will vote 'no'.
S.T.O.P. is an acronym for 'Stop Taxing Ocean Pines,' a grass roots organization to counter uncontrolled spending sprees by our Board of Directors, including the $25,000 study to try to obtain a permit for a 90 slip commercial marina at the Swim & Racquet Club before they decided whether or not we needed it; the unbudgeted and ill conceived $930,000 pool enclosure at the Sports Core Swimming pool; and the new Community Center.
Let's talk about the Community Center. On the evening of Sept. 21, 2004, at a public board meeting, OPA's consulting firm, Design Atlantic, addressed our 'space needs'. It became apparent that the Community Center concept, which had been soundly defeated by referendum just three years earlier, was alive and well. Just who does our Board think they represent?
S.T.O.P.'s concerns were justified. In short order, the board was railroading through a 'do over' of the 2001 referendum. There was one major difference. This one was going to be 'free'.
Yes, a free new 28,000-square-foot brick Community Center. The 'anticipated cost' of $3.9 million would be funded by the sale of 19 building lots and the sale of 2.8 acres of commercial property owned by the Ocean Pines Association, Inc. This was too good to be true. Why did this referendum pass by only 214 votes? This endeavor started to fall apart within months after its approval. In no time the board was 38 percent over budget. To make matters even worse, after 20 months, the Board of Directors has yet to sell the first lot. Not one. It was indeed too good to be true.
The other side of the coin is that our Board of Directors now tells us that the cost to stop is going to be as high as $900,000. Wow, $900,000 and we do not even have a building permit? Of course, it is important to put this number into context. It comes from, for the most part, the same board that purposely and intentionally lowered the 'anticipated cost' to $3.9 million because 'it would sell better'. Where I come from that is called a low ball. Would this same board now dare to pitch us a high ball?
S.T.O.P. believes it is not a good idea to 'throw good money after bad'. The board was 38 percent over budget in less than a year and still doesn't even have a building permit. They have yet to sell a single lot, and want $1.5 million more of our hard earned assessment money. We believe that it is better to sell the 19 lots for a more realistic price of $1.4 million and use the first $900,000 to pay off this fiasco. The remaining $525,000 could be used to start the necessary renovation of our existing community center. Others in Ocean Pines will opt to pay the estimated $640 per member/lot ($5,400,000/8,415 lots) in capital cost as well as the increase in our assessments to fund the new operating costs for the proposed center.
Next week this column will be authored by Association member Edward Moran, a highly respected and well-known businessman whose opinion will be worth reading. I hope that David Honick, the attorney who successfully orchestrated S.T.O.P.'s lawsuit, will write our third column on Homeowner Association law. Till next week, thank you and God bless.
Martin Clarke(The writer is the vice president of S.T.O.P.)