Learn more about your OPA Board Candidates before you VOTE!
In order to help you make your decision in this upcoming Board of Directors, the OPA Elections Committee presents the biographies submitted by each of the FIVE candidates. They are presented here in the same order as listed on the ballot. Seeking voter’s support to fill one of TWO VACANT board positions for 3-year terms. The candidates are……….
33 Sundial Circle
Many of you have not met me. You would not recognize me at the gym or an area restaurant, but I want to be your representative on the Board. Why? Because I will be independent, somewhat of a centrist, and vote what I believe is in your best interest. I have heard the term “Crony Group” used for the Board. Count on the fact that I am not applying for that position. O.P. faces infrastructure problems which must be resolved. It is not a new community. It is a collection of eclectic homes, housing families, retired couples and single persons and most important, children. Assessment dues must be controlled and the amenities pay for themselves.
My past experience affords me a good background on managing budgets and working with people. I worked for eighteen years in the corporate world and founded and built two successful small businesses spanning 30 years. In my opinion, the main issues are infrastructure and the actual cost (audited) of the Yacht Club. Also important are making our golf course a profitable venture along with the country club and General Manager compensation package.
123 Sandyhook Road firstname.lastname@example.org
Professionally, my work experience includes human resource and financial management positions with large employers in both the private sector with Bethlehem Steel and the public sector with the State of Maryland. During those periods of employment, I was responsible for managing and directing benefit plans for over 100,000 employees with up to a $1 billion dollar budget. During the 14 years I have lived here I have seen great progress but at times I have asked at what cost. Using the above mentioned professional experience, I hope to help Ocean Pines move in the future in a more cost effective manner. At the same time I want the citizens of Ocean Pines including my family to continue to enjoy all of the wonderful amenities that originally attracted us to this Eastern Shore community.
Although we have made some progress in the past, I think we can do better. Provided I am elected, I will do everything in my power to put Ocean Pines on a more financially practical and responsible course. If you want to change the direction our current Board is following, then cast your vote for me. In any event, thank you for your kind consideration.
100 Bramblewood Drive
I have served on the OPA Board for the past three years and as liaison to the Aquatics, ENAAC, Budget & Finance, Rec & Parks,& Elections committee. Prior to relocating to Ocean Pines, I was a member of the Anne Arundel Community College Board, AACC Foundation Board and the West Anne Arundel County Rotary Club. My career as a medical practice manager has spanned over thirty years. Balancing a full-time career and responsibilities of the Board has been challenging, but I feel that with the changing demographics, I am able to bring a different perspective on the needs of our community. I have had excellent attendance at Board functions, demonstrating that I take this obligation very seriously. My platform is open with no hidden agendas. My experience on the Board has given me insight into our community. I continue to be passionate in my advocacy for our members. I look to the members and our mgmt to define the needs of OPA. The Board has accomplished many things over the last 3 years and I would like to see this progress continue. Communication remains key to the successful operations of such a large and diverse membership and I welcome the opportunity to again be your representative on the Ocean Pines Board.
1210 Carrollton Lane
My name is Jeff Knepper and I am running for a seat on the Ocean Pines Board of Directors. My wife and I have owned property here since 2000 and lived in Colonial Village full time since 2006. I have worked for major US corporations my entire adult life and will bring the knowledge and discipline learned there to my work here. I am a fiscal conservative, which means that I spend money wisely and believe that our assessments must be as low as is consistent with that principle. I am a member of the first Board of Directors to lower Association dues since OPA was founded and I was a leader in that effort. I am considered an expert in the application of technology to business operations and will use that expertise as we make needed upgrades to our information systems. I have already contributed to that effort by stopping planned RFPs that would have been ineffective. Golf issues need resolution (make it work, lease, or sell it), and the new Yacht Club must be managed well, to round out my top three. Drainage, Country Club Future, and OPA operating to its rules are the next three.
122 Central Parke East
Mary and I have owned property in Ocean Pines for over 40 years. We moved here full-time in 2001 and became actively involved in community affairs. My career was in defense systems engineering, performing planning, budgeting and operations management. I served on The Parke Board through a smooth developer/resident transition. I was elected to the OPA Board in 2007 serving as Treasurer and President. These three years were filled with many accomplishments, including a new Community Center, Fire Station, Skate Park and a renovated S&R Club pool and Tennis Facility. A Task Force was formed with open and inclusive meetings and we developed a specific plan for funding future facility needs. In 2010 I was reelected. By contrast, the next three years were marked by closed deliberations, presentations with more polish than substance, unbudgeted capital expenditures and reports that emphasized the “positive” rather than the truth. There was a singular lack of accomplishment and Board responsibility for governance was turned over to Management. Term limits prevented me from running last year and I moved into other volunteer pursuits. However, I was persuaded by many members that change is needed and I think they deserve the opportunity to see it happen.
Candidates were asked to submit answers to the following questions.
#1. What are the advantages & positive aspects of living in Ocean Pines?
Ocean Pines is not quite by the ocean, but close enough for residents to enjoy the ocean breezes, not blown over sand dunes but wafting through the pine trees abundant in our community. Ocean Pines is a community of eclectic houses built over the 40 plus years of growth. Today it is the largest community in Worcester County, double the population of our peninsula neighbor to the East, Ocean City. It’s Maryland’s playground in the summer and three miles from Berlin, the Coolest Small Town in America. We are a community of children, families and retired people all enjoying what the Indian word “Chesapeake” means – “the land of pleasant living”. That phrase encompasses what living in our community means to our year-round residents and specifically me.
At times it almost seems as if there are too many advantages and positive aspects of living here in Ocean Pines. When my wife, Jean, and I began planning for our eventual retirement in the early 1990’s, we had a “bucket list” of things we wanted to experience and accomplish in our later years. We knew that we wanted to move to the Eastern Shore so we isolated our search from Lewes, DE in the north through Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach onto Ocean City in the south. It didn’t take us long to find our ideal community, Ocean Pines. First of all, none of the other locations had as many quality amenities such as five swimming pools, a championship golf course and a beach club located on a block in Ocean City. Those features added the fact that Ocean Pines has its own governance with a fully staffed police and fire departments. Another and perhaps most important factor in our choosing Ocean Pines was the diversity of the homes and the people living in them. My wife and I have lived in five different communities in our married life and we have never seen homes ranging in value from $100,000 to over $1 million dollars in the same community. While keeping architectural integrity, Ocean Pines homeowners have a great deal of latitude on the size and style of their homes. When you ride up and down Ocean Parkway or duck in and out of the side streets you will be amazed as we were about the collective tastes of our population. The final factor is the citizens of Ocean Pines. We may disagree on how things should be run here in the Pines but I think that most if not all of us love living here. I am glad we came here in 2000 and we plan to stay.
All it takes is one look at the Ocean Pines Spring 2014 newsletter to see just how amazing this community is and how many advantages and positive aspects there are to living in Ocean Pines. Front page headlines include “Get Ready for the Season! Swim, Racquet Sports, Boating, Golf & Special Events! Beach Club and Pools Open May 24th.” News at a Glance gives a snapshot of the general manager’s update on the new Yacht Club, the Farmer’s Market and the return of the Festival of Boats in July. The new Recreation and Parks Activity Guide is also featured with as well as the announcement for the Grand Opening of the new Yacht Club and Restaurant. One peek inside this publication and you will find everything from the Association’s financial information to news from our many committees as well as information about all of our great amenities. Ocean Pines is a premier residential community with 9 miles of waterfront property on 3000 acres of wooded terrain where we can live, work and play. Who wouldn’t want to live here?
Ocean Pines is a great community located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It has a temperate climate, the Atlantic Ocean for a neighbor and really nice people. Unlike some other communities in the area, Ocean Pines has a number of amenities available to members (and the public) including a championship golf course, Pools, Boat Launching Ramps, the Yacht Club, Marinas, Racquet Sports Facilities, a Community Center and more. The Community’s low crime rate, excellent Police and Fire Department support and access to the highly-rated Worcester County Schools make it wonderful location for families of all types. Our proximity to the resort town of Ocean City and the city of Salisbury are major advantages, and even larger cities like Washington, DC and Philadelphia are nearby. The diversity of its population is amazing. There are folks here from
many different places and with diverse backgrounds. All of this makes life here very enjoyable and interesting.
When I was asked this same question four years ago, my visiting 13 year old Grandson said “Grandpa, tell them that it’s beautiful, and full of nature and near the beach with lots of things to do.” I still can’t improve much on that answer, but I would add “the people”. For a Community our size we are remarkably diverse in age, education and economic status and half of the members of our Association do not live here full time. Mary and I consider this diversity a strong positive, but we also realize that it is a challenge to govern when everyone does not have the same needs and priorities. Perhaps it is this diversity that helps foster the tremendous volunteer spirit within Ocean Pines and the boost that it gives to our community’s social, educational, and healthcare systems.
#2 What is your history of community involvement within Ocean Pines and in other communities?
Lawrence Lee – I assisted my wife in community involvement in both the Stone Gate area and at Manor Country Club. In the last years of my corporate life as Divisional Sales Manager, I was required to travel 2 weeks every month. Then later, I spent 10-12 hours daily building my own companies. Even with this schedule, I managed to coach my children’s sports teams for over 10 years.
Pat Renaud – My community involvement in Ocean Pines since we arrived in 2000 has been mainly with my church, Community Church at Ocean Pines. Since my arrival, I have been in the Chancel Choir and I have chaired several committees such as Worship and Stewardship. Most recently I became a Stephen Leader after being a Stephen Minister for over 20 years Currently, I am also serving as a Volunteer Docent for the Ward Museum in Salisbury MD. My one association with the OPA was as an unpaid consultant concerning their employee benefit programs in 2007. Outside of Ocean Pines, I was a member and Chairman of the Maryland Healthcare Coalition Board for 16 years. Additionally, I was the General Manager of Operations employed by the Local Government Insurance Trust Board for 4 years. The combination of these two different experiences gives me a unique perspective on the dynamic that occurs between the Board and our General Manager. Besides the above mentioned groups, I was on the Board of Directors for the State and Local Government Benefits Association; the Board of Directors for the Mid-Atlantic Business Group on Health and the Board of Trustees for the Maryland Boards of Education as well as the Governor’s Expert Panel on Drug Abuse.
Terri Mohr – My history of community involvement includes serving on the Board of Directors for the last 3 years. I have held the positions of Treasurer and Secretary of the organization and have been the liaison to the Aquatics, Environmental and Natural Assets, Budget and Finance, Parks and Recreation and Election committees. I have participated in many area volunteer activities including the Penguin Swim, Susan Komen Race for the Cure and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. I am a former director of two Chambers of Commerce in Anne Arundel County, MD as well as a former member of the Rotary Club.
Jeff Knepper – My wife and I have owned property in Ocean Pines since 2000, and lived here full time since 2006. For a short time (2008-2011) we resided in Florida so my daughter could complete her college education. Since 2006, I have attended virtually every meeting of the Board of Directors either in person or by means of the internet. I have made public comments to the Board on a number of occasions. In 2007 or so, I was a member of the committee examining the development of goal setting training for OPA staff. I have also served on the General Manager’s Contract Review Group. This group reviews major OPA contracts before they are concluded and makes recommendations for the protection of OPA’s interests to the GM. As a current member of the Board of Directors, I am the designated liaison to the Comprehensive Plan and Bylaws Committees. Both before and while on the Board, I have contributed significantly to the planning part of the project to replace and upgrade our information systems.
Dave Stevens – Prior to sitting out last year due to term limits, I served for six years on the Ocean Pines Board (2007-2013). I was appointed Treasurer in the first year and President in the second. Before that I served for four years on the Board of Directors of the Parke and was President for the last two, during a very successful developer to homeowner transition. (The Parke is a 503 home, over-55 community with a $1M+ annual budget.) At the end of my last Board term in 2013 Mary and I expanded our involvement with the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and I am currently serving as acting President.
#3 How would you recommend the Board of Directors and OPA Administration address our community’s aging infrastructure?
Lawrence Lee – Identify them, prioritize them and resolve these situations in specific time period. In the last four years, emphasis has been placed on amenities more than site improvement. Assessments and dues are paid by residents to care for the infrastructure of roads, bridges and buildings. The new Yacht Club, which cost has not been fully stated, is in my opinion a financial mistake. We were led to believe that the cost of this amenity would be 4.7 million. I believe the total cost of the Yacht Club, including new kitchen, pool and movement of gas tank will be in excess of $1 million over the initial price. Other communities in our area will be developed. Let the Board be responsible for our own residents and land owners, not to builders and developers.
Pat Renaud – Part of the aging infrastructure problem has been addressed with the building of our new Yacht Club. There was a lot of happiness and backslapping among the current Board members and General Manager for this accomplishment. Some would like to see us rush into solving the aging infrastructure problem of the Country Club the same way we solved the Yacht Club problem. My feeling is that we need to redirect our efforts elsewhere. Instead of focusing on highly visible projects like the Country Club, we should be spending most of our time and money on finding a solution to fixing our deteriorating roads and inadequate drainage systems. Last year in the fall the Board decided to form a blue-ribbon panel to assist the OPA in finding that solution. Such a panel of State, County and private sector experts finally met for the first time in March to review and comment on the problems. Although there was no recommendation out of this first meeting, it was agreed upon by all parties to meet again to continue the process. There has not been any further meeting scheduled at this date.
If I am elected, I will make this very important issue a priority and further meetings will be scheduled until a recommended resolution is made.
Terri Mohr – The Board and General Manager have gotten off to a good start. We are developing a comprehensive plan to address all of our aging amenities and infrastructure and have been able to successfully address two of our major amenities in the last three years – the Yacht Club and the golf greens. We are poised to continue our process of positive progress as we address issues such as drainage, aging facilities, and information technology needs.
Jeff Knepper – The best way to address our aging infrastructure is to understand what is required, understand the options available to us, understand the time frame when changes are needed, plan for doing appropriate maintenance or replacement, and then execute those plans effectively. Part of our issue with this stuff comes from the fact that over the years we have chosen to keep assessments low and have not, in my opinion, maintained our assets properly. We now have a listing of our major assets and a sense of when they need to be maintained or replaced. We must keep that document current and plan through our budgeting process to either execute or abandon those plans, as appropriate.
Dave Stevens – Certainly not in the way that it has been done (or not been done) over the last four years. I will start with a determination of how we will pay for capital improvements as we go forward. How long can we continue to “borrow from ourselves”, by depleting reserves intended for other purposes? After being told that the construction of the new Yacht Club would be paid for out of the funds collected through the 5-Plan we now know that collection for that purpose won’t be completed for another three years. At the same time major unplanned, unbudgeted capital expenditure (e.g., golf greens, swimming pool, Java Café) were also paid by “borrowing” from what has become a fund that apparently can be used for any purpose this current Board majority chooses.
The second important question is what do we really need? “In addition to facilities, infrastructure” encompasses roads, bridges, IT systems, drainage systems, recreational amenities etc., as well as the maintenance programs needed to sustain them. Jargon such as “rack and stack” and “holistic and campus approach” do not identify specific needs, relative priorities, and estimated implementation schedules and cost. Every major item included in the improvement and sustainment plan must have an accompanying requirements statement, reviewed and approved by the Board, along with whatever supporting capital and operational cost estimates, schedules and engineering studies are available.
I believe that a large amount of information is available to restart this process if it is assembled and used. There will still be a considerable amount of work to be done and it will be a challenge to find qualified volunteers to do it. Small teams, drawn from the Community, appointed by the Board and reporting to the Board will be most effective. I do not believe it can or should be done by the GM and his staff, although their active participation is essential. One thing that has happened in the past, and will happen again if we allow it, is to confuse an actual need for aging infrastructure upgrade with speculative business initiatives designed to lower continuing amenity losses. Our reserves are not a venture capital fund.
THE 2014 ELECTION IS UNDER WAY! CAST YOUR VOTE!
Ballots have been Mailed to all eligible Ocean Pines Property Owners as of July 3.
Please read your enclosed instructions and return ballot(s) by mail or in person by
BALLOT DEADLINE: Thursday, August 7.
BALLOT BOX LOCATED AT THE OPA ADMINISTRATION OFFICE
(please use ballot envelope for ballots and proxy envelope for proxies ONLY! )
Election Results will be announced at the Ocean Pines Association’s Annual Meeting
Saturday, August 9th @ 10:00 am at the OP Community Center.
For more information about your ballot or the elections,
please contact the elections committee hotline at 410-289-3989
Note: This post contains the correct answer for Pat Renaud and Jeff Knepper for Question #1. Their answers were inadvertently switched in the Ocean Pines Summer Report.