A History of Ocean Resorts Park


By Al Benson

Transcribed 3/15/05


When I first arrived here at O.R. we had a travel trailer and the electric was not big enough to handle it so we had bottled gas--Gas stoves, water heaters, A/C, and all the rest that goes with it.  It was very primitive.  Most of the people in the park, at that time, were transient and they had pop up trailers etc.  The water was from wells that were so full of lime that no one could use it except to accommodate the sewage.  We therefore had to buy our water. 


It got to the point that there were many people wanting to stay here for at least 3 months.  Therefore, we approached Bryn Mawr to buy the park from them.  Their condition was that they would sell 400 lots and when all the lots were sold we should become a legal entity -- Ocean Resorts Co-op.  


Amazingly, this did not take long.  The average price for an improved lot was between 10 to 13 thousand dollars. Many people bought multiple lots for speculation.   The lot I am on was bought by twin brothers who bought 10 lots all at one time on this street.  Very shortly all the lots had been sold and Bryn Mawr turned the place over to us as a co-op.  Many problems existed and the electric was a major one.


The water also was a major problem and sewage was not much better.  This was owned by Bryn Mawr on the S.E. section of our land and the people who bought lots there were inundated constantly with bad odors.


We proceeded to make some kind of changes that would make O.R. what it is today.  Ted Blaser, K.A. Benson, Ruth Benson and 2 other electrical engineers spent much money and hard labor in order to accomplish these updates for the park.


The first thing was to get the electric up to date for each lot.  That was a tremendous undertaking to elevate the amps of each lot.  This would accommodate most trailers and park models, at that time.  We engaged several electrical engineers and worked with the power company and determined we had transformers in and around the park that were totally unused.  The biggest one was behind the tennis court.  We designed a system to distribute the available electricity from those units and others, laid wire and upgraded every unit in the park so it could handle additional amperage. 


Many other problems were prevalent -- For example the wash units for clothes washing.  We were renting machines, coin operated.  90% of the time they did not work or turned out stained clothes.  One of the park owners owned a series of Laundromats up north and he donated the first shipment of used coin-operated washers and dryers to replace the rental units.  So we installed these machines.  He shipped the equipment which was used and it turned out to be fantastic.  They were installed in 4 wash stations by park residents.  The park took in $8,000 the first month.


The next thing that was a major problem was tennis courts.  They were concrete which was cracked and heaved up.  We researched and found the present type of surface was for us.  We found a contractor that could come in and put a surface over the concrete and put a court down.  We all chipped in to fund it with no expense to the park and we were able to get the court down.  Afterwards we had tons and tons of sand that had to be raked in daily to be sure it had a solid foundation and that the imitation grass would not be cut off by the use of the court.  This was an arduous job and many many people worked day after day to rake the sand into the court.


Our next project was the marina.  There were only ½ doz. at best, slips.  More was needed.  So I took it upon myself with help from others to design the present docks.  Suddenly we found out we were involved with the State and Conservation people about putting down pilings etc.  So we drew up plans and sent it to Tallahassee for approval.  We had to make 3 attempts because they insisted the brook that ran down beside the docks, was an inland waterway.  We finally convinced them it was not. 


We hired a pile driving company to drive piling and based on that we were able to then go ahead ourselves.  We got a concrete mixer, sand and gravel and we all pitched in, mixing concrete.  We filled the pilings up, drilled holes through them, and installed steel bolts to hold rafters that support the deck.  We worked diligently for weeks on end with the mixer making concrete, drilling the pilings etc.  All work was done by park residents except for pile driving.  "Red" Cunningham provided the concrete mixer and a Ditch Witch for the electrical service wires -- A tremendous effort by more people than I can count.  So we now have our beautiful marina.


Our next project was the swimming pool.  Back then we had a diving board, but found our insurance rates were out of sight because of that.  We removed the boards.  We needed lighting at the pool and at the tennis courts.  We got together and set up a transformer to take care of the lighting.  We accomplished this with the help of the power company.  Some kind of a task was getting the poles and lights up.  Here again this was done with in house knowledge and ability. 


The next thing we did was decide that under the Rec Hall was a totally empty place, full of dirt and not being used.  We needed a shop for our maintenance people.   We went in there with hand tools, bucket loaders and anything we could get hold of and excavated an area for shop, storage.  At the same time we shored up the swimming pool which was leaking into this space.  This was all done by fantastic volunteers in the park, many of whom, including my dear wife, are now with the Lord.