In order to help you make your decision in this upcoming Board of Directors election, the Ocean Pines Elections Committee presents the biographies, which were submitted by each of the FOUR candidates, and answers to three questions presented to the candidates by the Elections Committee. Three candidates, Paula Robertson Gray, Arie Klapholz and Brenda Wascak, have submitted a formal letter of withdrawal. Four candidates now vie for two vacant Board positions. They are presented here in the same order as listed on the ballot. The candidates are…
I grew up in small-town Wisconsin, earned my B.A. degree in philosophy and Master’s degree in Educational Psychology at Milwaukee’s Marquette University where I met my husband, Jerry, a Ph.D. student and native of Harford County, Maryland. We moved to California where I earned my Ph.D. degree in Psychology at University of Southern California. In 1985 Jerry and I first incorporated our private psychology practice for which I still provide clinical and administrative services. We moved to Jerry’s home town in Maryland in 1992 after our two daughters were born and have been Marylanders ever since. I am now semi-retired after 22 years as a school psychologist in Harford County where we now live part-time.
We moved to Ocean Pines in 2009. I love the beauty of the Eastern Shore’s cooler months; exploring the waterways of the local area in our kayaks and pontoon throughout boating season; and taking our Labradoodle, Jack, on long walks. A lover of books, I recently added book-shelving for the OP library to my volunteer activities, which have also included Board governance for a non-profit organization, directing the Religious Education Program for my church, and serving on inter-agency committees addressing needs of the mentally ill.
As a lifelong resident of the eastern shore and Ocean Pines community I have cultivated relationships and memories that are immeasurable to my family and I. The Ocean Pines community has given so much to me over the years from employment at its clubs to business opportunities and most notably my home. As a multiyear homeowner and local business owner. I am seeking to serve on a board that wants to promote a vision for our community and will encourage first time home buyers to want to live here, not be scared that their home and livelihood will be scrutinized. The amenities in the community need to be self-sustaining and consistent, not a financial burden on the community. Ocean Pines needs real leadership, not nepotism and back channels to guide and delegate the departments. My value as a board member will be my tireless work ethic, unwavering principles, and my ability to succeed at difficult tasks. All in all, my ultimate goal is to promote the community and its amenities as the quintessential standard for the eastern shore beach lifestyle that our western Maryland brethren are envious of.
My wife Stevie and I have lived in Ocean Pines since 2007. Currently serving as a director on the board for the past year, I have contributed to several significant accomplishments during that time. Among them are the renovation of the Beach Club, the renovation of the golf course clubhouse and the completion of bridge repairs on Ocean Parkway and Clubhouse Drive. I was a strong supporter of the approach to renovate rather than replace these amenities in order to prevent several million dollars in expenses and avoid an increased financial burden on the OPA membership.
I also created the Technology Work Group to assess and address the existing problematic issues with the systems used to conduct Association business. The nine volunteers from our membership have been actively working with OPA leadership and staff and are currently moving forward with proposed solutions for critical financial systems.
My desire is to continue the work I have started as a current board director and promote a level of continuity on the board for the upcoming year. I ask for your consideration to support me with your vote so I can continue to serve the Ocean Pines Association.
I have been a member of Ocean Pines Association, Inc. since 1977, and a full time resident since 1992. My wife and I raised our family and conducted our successful real estate and construction business in Ocean Pines for over thirty years.
I have served on the following O P Advisory committees: Clubs; Ocean Pines Demographic Study; Budget & Finance; By-Laws & Resolutions; Environmental & Natural Assets. I have also served on community based committees which include the Worcester County Waste Water Task Force; S. T. O. P. (Stop Taxing Ocean Pines); and the OPA Marina Group. I was elected to serve as a Director for our Association (2007-2010) and (2012-2015). I also served as President of the Pines Point Marina Condominium. I am a member of Saint John Neumann Church; the American Legion; a life member of the V. F. W. and the Worcester Veterans Memorial; and a Sponsor of Worcester County Ducks Unlimited.
If elected to the Board of Directors it will be my goal to promote a conservative zero based budget incorporating reasonable reserves and encourage sound, common sense business practices at our amenities.
1. Describe your thoughts about OPA finances. What do you think is going well and what needs to change?
Our most recent audited financial statements (fiscal year 2016) reflect strong cash flows covering operating expenses and capital expenditures. The unaudited financial statements for fiscal 2017, however, reflect an operating deficit of $273,000, almost entirely due to poor performance at the Yacht Club. Going forward, we must examine factors contributing to this and search for remedies.
Our threshold for Board spending without referendum at $1.7 million should be looked at in light of future asset repair and replacement needs to assure members that responsible spending will prevail. Our priorities must be to update the Reserve Study using current numbers and projected needs, taking into account inflation, and ensure fair allocation to members. The discovery of sink holes and worm-infested bulkheads points to the reality of unexpected and costly capital improvement needs.
The recent introduction of an unbudgeted 20% member discount for food and beverage venues seems questionable. This action substantially reduces our food and beverage margins. To make up this difference, we will need to dramatically increase our business to remain net revenue neutral. It would have been more prudent to allow the Board to consider potential impact to costs of sales and operations before finalizing the budget.
Nicole Schafer Crosariol
I am an amazing team player. During my 6 year employment at Powerhouse Gym and Beach Bounce, I collaborated and worked with over 200 employees, from 9 different departments and 4 physical locations. While collaborating from the head of each department, we were able to not only accomplish, but exceed what was expected across the board. Currently, I work with an amazing group of women who all own their own retail LuLaRoe businesses. We all use our strengths to execute creative ideas and strive to not only grow our businesses, but to branch out and support the whole small business community. In any great team, you need each member to bring their knowledge and expertise to the table to accomplish a common goal. I bring a unique background, and would make decisions based on what everyone needs. I listen, and will help bring innovative ideas that would help benefit us all.
While the annual assessment is very reasonable as compared to association fees in the surrounding areas, consideration should always be given to avoid increases, and if possible, reduce the annual fee for OPA property owners. This year’s budget is a good example of missing an opportunity to reduce the assessment, as the budget was based on the previous year’s assessment fee, rather than approaching it from a zero-based revenue/expense perspective. For the record, I voted against the adoption of the budget for this and several other reasons.
On a positive note, I do need to point out that over 98% of the assessment fees have been collected from the membership, which is above the national average for associations and similar organizations.
The Board and General Manager need to continue to work closely with the Budget and Finance advisory committee in preparing next fiscal year budget. Given the recent successful renovation of the Beach Club and golf course clubhouse, the demand for contributing to the “reserve” fund is greatly reduced and consideration should be given to passing the savings to OPA property owners by reducing the annual assessment.
Ocean Pines is in a sound financial position. We benefit from an excellent Fire and Police Department. Our Public works, administrative and recreational staff are dedicated professionals. We have a potent balance in our maintenance and replacement reserves which currently exceeds well over Seven Million Dollars.
Under the leadership of our current board much of our long neglected and deferred maintenance has been achieved. The renovation of our Country Club, new Manklin Meadows playground and pickle ball courts, new Beach Club bath rooms, as well as the mandatory repair of two major bridges has been accomplished. The long overdue renovations to the administration building and police department have been approved in the recently finalized budget for completion within the next twelve months. We owe this board our sincere thanks and appreciation.
With this in mind, when our new General Manager prepares next year’s budget he should only fund the required depreciation and decrease the additional amounts we have continually been adding to our reserves under the five year funding plan. This strategy is no longer necessary, and by its elimination, we can easily reduce our membership’s assessments by more than $75.00 a year.
2. Describe your thoughts on OPA amenities. What is going well and what needs to change?
Support of the amenities adds to the financial value of our homes. Acknowledging years of support by long-term residents, we should look at a “legacy member assessment discount” option.
The audited financial statements reflect a significant overall amenity operating profit for fiscal 2016. The unaudited financials for 2017 reflect a substantially lower profit (40%) than the prior year. The Yacht Club poor performance represented 70% of that decrease. It was the amenity with the largest variance from budget, with a loss of $229,000 vs. a budgeted profit of $34,000. One may expect that renovations of meeting and banquet space and enlargement of the Tern Grille at the Golf Club will position us for additional net revenue increases. Factors accounting for Food & Beverage operating losses this past year will need to be examined carefully and remedied going forward.
The Yacht Club is plagued by chronic complaints of poor food/beverage product and service quality. It is yet to be seen whether the 20% discount and recent personnel shake-up will exacerbate this or solve it. Increased stability in staffing and better management are critical to increased event bookings and greater overall customer satisfaction, which should boost revenues and improve financial performance.
Nicole Schafer Crosariol
My vision for Ocean Pines is to be an attractive and affordable place to live. This is a community we all call home, now we need to treat it as such. Updating rotting signs and making all amenities equality desirable for our full and part timers. Investing a little is essential if we want residents to support it. As we gather to these amenities that were built for us, we engage and meet so many residents/friends, and isn’t that what makes a great community anyway? As the amenities thrive, I would like to explore ways to take financial burden off of home owners, both in memberships and annual assessments.
Resolution M-02 specifically states that the amenities should be run in a business-like manner and fee-based amenities should be managed to cover, at a minimum, operating costs through fees and operating revenues. I am a proponent of making an honest attempt to operate our beautiful amenities in a sensible manner. For the most part, our amenities are run in reasonable compliance with M-02. The Beach Club and the 5 pools managed by the Association are prime examples of this compliance.
However, one obvious problem is the Cove at Mumford’s (formerly the Yacht Club). Over the years, despite the various changes in business strategy, the amenity continues to lose money, especially in the off-season months. Even with the quality, and quite frankly marvelous, effort the acting General Manager and his team put forth to reinvigorate the building and business management of the Cove, we still showed significant operating losses during these off-season months. In my opinion, if that level of effort and creativity, didn’t produce the desired results, its proof enough that we need to close down the operation during the off-season as a prudent business decision and am very interested in what OPA members think of that approach.
Ocean Pines has always enjoyed the finest amenities of any community on the eastern shore of Maryland. Every property owner pays for the cost of these amenities as part of their yearly assessment. The board of directors is charged to operate the business amenities in a “businesslike manner”. We should also operate them in the best interest of the majority of our fellow property owners.
We are clearly NOT operating the new Five Million Dollar Yacht Club in a “businesslike manner”. This is obvious to anyone who looks at the numbers, and I do. In the first three years the new facility lost over $880,000.00 in the off-season.
This loss addresses operational loss and does not include the very expensive depreciation costs also funded by our assessment dollars. Let me please ask you, if this was your personal business enterprise, would you stay open in the off season to lose $300,000.00 a year? I didn’t think so, and, neither should we. Next year’s board must make the only sensible business decision in the best interest of our membership and close this facility in the off season. This would result in a savings of $30.00 from our yearly assessment.
3. Describe what you feel you would bring to the OPA BOD.
I have a Ph.D. in psychology with expertise in data analysis and research as well as clinical practice. For 30 years I have been President and Chief Financial Officer for the psychology business I own with my husband. I have experience with board governance in the non-profit sector. I am a published researcher with university teaching experience.
I have the skills and knowledge to represent the financial interests of the membership and to collaborate with other Directors in steering the Board toward sensible decision-making and responsible spending based on faithful adherence to our governing documents and sound business practices. My skills also support the Board’s need for careful study of the priorities of the members and the characteristics of our community and its amenities, and to use this information to guide decision-making, I am semi-retired, and live part-time in Harford County MD, which will bring to the Board the perspective of a resident who maintains property value in two places. My training and experience prepared me to see problems and issues objectively from various points of view, which will allow me to represent the interests and needs of both full-time and part-time resident-owners.
Nicole Schafer Crosariol
I bring new perceptive to the board. Growing up here, this community has been my childhood and soon to be, my children’s home. I have many heartwarming memories of the beach club, recreation activities and pool days with my family. Making essential structural updates will ensure constant growth and please all demographics. Not just current residents, but for future generations to come. With my extensive marketing background and business management (including my own), I can assist in being fiscally responsible for budgeting.
Eager to hear of a new General Manger coming in the near future, I am confident the current board members will hire a great leader to fill some very big shoes. The opportunity to work and oversee the productivity with the current board members, will keep the Operation management accountable and amenities sustainable at the very least.
I bring over 30 years of executive leadership from a successful career in leading information technology for several prominent organizations, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Pew Charitable Trusts. More importantly, as a current member of the Board of Directors, I bring a valuable level of experience that can only be gained by serving the Association on its Board.
I also bring to the table a demonstrated commitment in building a collaborative relationship among the members of the board, so that varying opinions on important topics can be shared openly and candidly, with the intent of reaching consensus on a solution or course of action. Over this past year, we, as a board have shared a number of successes, while at the same time have faced several challenges. One of my focus areas is to continue to work with my fellow directors to address the challenges ahead and serve in the best interest of the OPA and its members, and I ask for your consideration as you cast your vote in the upcoming election.
As a successful local resort businessman operating in Ocean Pines for 30 plus years I try to look at every penny of every assessment like it was my money. Over the past twenty years my due diligence and commitment to Ocean Pines has saved the membership a great deal of money. I have served Ocean Pines as a director and as a committee member for longer than the combined tenure of the entire sitting board. I understand the financial reports and I am the only candidate with a long history of service that brings with it an understanding of our operations and finances.
I promise to work in your best interests and that of Ocean Pines. I would appreciate your vote.
Elections Committee Seeks Questions from Residents for Candidates’ Forum
The Elections Committee is seeking questions from members of the Association for the Candidates’ Forum. Residents are encouraged to submit questions, 75 words or less, by calling the Elections Committee Telephone Hotline at 410-208-3989, or sending questions by email to Elections Committee Chair Steve Tuttle at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also post your questions for the Candiates’ Forum to https://realopforum.com/
The deadline for submitting questions is Sunday, June 18.
The cutoff date for voter eligibility in Ocean Pines is July 1. Ballots will be mailed on July 11 and are due on Aug. 10. Votes will be counted on Aug. 11. The two winners, each serving a three-year term, will be announced during the annual meeting on Saturday, Aug. 12 at 10 a.m. at the Assateague Room in the Ocean Pines Community Center.
For more information, contact Elections Committee Chair Steve Tuttle at email@example.com or Denise Sawyer, director of marketing and public relations for the Ocean Pines Association, at (410) 641-7717 ext. 3006 or firstname.lastname@example.org .