Pool Deck Expansiongreenspun.com : LUSENET : Kentlands : One Thread
As many of you may know, the board approved earlier this month an expenditure for $340,000 for the expansion of the pool deck. Work is to begin this fall. Last spring, the project was tabled because the board decided the $285,000 bid was too high. I e-mailed Barbara Moidel asking about the board process that allowed the approved expenditure.
I think the expansion is necessary considering the amount of building still going on in the Kentlands. However, any time that much money is approved for a project, it seems more of an effort can be made to alert the entire community. In the meantime, I was wondering if anyone had actually been to the meetings over the summer where this project was discussed. I find it very helpful to have a broad perspective. Thanks.
-- Robin Caldwell (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 31, 2000
What has changed between the last spring and now is the composition of the board. A developer controlled board and citizen controlled board will have different priorities.
I submitted this question to the candidates at the candidates forum this summer, and both Richard and Clyde indicated their support at that time (Mike was not able to attend.) I have missed most board meetings this summer, but the use of the titleholder contribution money for construction was publicized in advance as a topic of conversation at the first meeting of the new board, and it was pretty clear at that time that the board intended to go ahead with the pool deck expansion.
-- Kate Hurson (email@example.com), August 31, 2000.
Thanks for that perspective Kate, I appreciate your response.
I agree that a citizen-controlled board will have different priorities than a bank-controlled board. I assume that means the citizens are willing to spend more money that the bank would recommend. No objection there if ALL of the citizens are informed. I just don't believe that is happening.
As for the use of titleholder contribution money for construction being publicized in advance, that is only true for part of the community. The distribution system shut down for many of us last May. I'm quite sure it was clear that the board made it known that they were going to move ahead with the project at that cost. But it's not possible to contribute to the community if you're not privy to the information. The KCA knew there was a break in the communication link. With the repeated resignations of the CMC staff as well as the editor of Town Crier, there was no primary means of communication from the KCA to the community. The third interim editor of the Crier was a decent band-aid but there really wasn't much news and there certainly was no summary of actions by the board in any issue. It was the KCA's and still is the KCA's responsibilty to make sure EVERYBODY is notified in advance of pending board decisions.
The pool deck expansion decision is only an example. The bigger picture is about the lack of concerted communication. I'm simply suggesting that major decisions be postponed until the distribution system, Town Crier, and KCA web site are up and running in a consistent manner.
-- Robin Caldwell (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 31, 2000.
I have used the pool only 3 times in the 7 years I have lived here and not even once over the past several years. So, I am not one to say whether the planned expansion of the deck is, or is not, needed. My concern is that this is just one more example of information's having been presented in such a way that broader input from the community has, effectively, been discouraged.
There was a front-page article in the March 2000 Town Crier about the pool deck expansion project being delayed, because the bid price was higher than the amount that had been budgeted for the project. That article has also been on the KCA website ALL SUMMER LONG (and, yes, I did submit a suggestion that it be replaced with something more current). ALL SUMMER LONG, a notice has been published in the "Community Bulletin Board" section of the Town Crier urging us to log onto the KCA website and check it out.
With such continued advertising, ALL SUMMER LONG, that the pool deck expansion project was delayed, because the one bid received exceeded the amount budgeted by some 34%, it is small wonder that some of us might be surprised to learn that the board has approved an amount so much higher than the bid rejected.
There was no indication in any KCA communication that came to my home, ALL SUMMER LONG, that the board, new or old, would even entertain the idea of going with a bid that was substantially higher than the one rejected. And the last I had heard at a board meeting (which I seldom attend) was that the Capital Improvements Committee was going to pare the pool project down some and resubmit it for a bid for construction in fall, which they expected would lower the cost even more (due to fall's being a less-busy season for contractors).
I agree with Robin that major decisions should be deferred, until the information distribution system in Kentlands is up and running in a consistent manner. The problem I have is that it is going to be a long, long time before I even begin to trust that the information being consistently distributed is accurate and complete.
-- Mary N. Macdonald (email@example.com), August 31, 2000.
In case you have not seen this month's Town Crier, there is a front page article on the process that lead to the approval of the pool deck expansion. It is concisely written and includes a breakdown of the final vote.
-- Robin Caldwell (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 16, 2000.
However, neither the latest article on the pool deck construction, nor any other part of the September 2000 Town Crier tells us WHERE THE FUNDS to pay for the pool deck expansion project ARE COMING FROM.
I guess I am just an ungrateful wretch. But the fact that the paper includes "recaps" for the May 24 and July 6 board meetings did not cut it for me. I wanted to see the summary for the August meeting, with an explanation of how the board is going to utilize our funds to pay for the pool deck project. Call me a worrywart, but, when I hear that we are dipping into our reserves to pay for some portion of the project, and that there are more projects to come (according to the article in this month's Town Crier, the pool deck expansion project is "the first project to move forward because of its high priority need"), I get a little anxious about where we are headed financially.
-- Mary N. Macdonald (email@example.com), September 16, 2000.
About 2 days after the latest Cryer arrived, we got our flyer distribution, which included an extensive recap of the pool deck decision process. I agree that in recent months communication downward from the board has been too sporadic because of the inconsistency of publication of the Cryer and the distribution of flyers. However, I have found that all it takes is an email or phone call to any of the board members to get an answer to any question I have. Maybe the minutes of each board meeting could be made available via email to those who want to follow specific issues. (Ultimately, I assume, the Minutes will be viewable on the website).
-- Joel Aronson (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 18, 2000.
Being able to get answers to our questions from board members one-on-one through private communications is fine, as long as all residents have the information they need to be able to ask any questions they might have. But we should not have to rely on private interactions with board members to get information that should be made readily available to the community at large. Without accurate, complete and timely information, citizen participation in community decisions is crippled.
Over the past several months, I have emailed a number of questions to board members and appreciate their willingness to respond on an individual basis. But I wonder, with a community our size, if a more efficient and less stressful way for busy board members to deal with our questions would be to have something like an "Ask the Board" forum on the KCA website, i.e., a forum where we could post questions, and the board would post the information we are looking for. This might also help to encourage broader community participation in the process.
-- Mary N. Macdonald (email@example.com), September 19, 2000.
I agree, Robin and Mary. A regular, continuing forum on the website would be an excellent channel for both up and down communication.
-- Joel Aronson (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 19, 2000.
I'm not sure I view the problem in the same way. I walk around the lake frequently. I usually stop to look at the bulletin board on Kent Oaks Way. There is usually an agenda posted about the upcoming meetings of the Board and a detailed list of what will be discussed. I also believe that there is still a "citizens forum" where the Board listens to comments from the rest of us.
Given the problems with an editor for the Crier, if residents of Kentlands have questions about items, they should hie themselves off to the Board meetings. I know of no town which does anything more than that, unless the town officials wish to raise taxes or float a bond issue.
It is incumbent on us to hold our governing body accountable for what happens or doesn't happen in our community. So folks, get to the next Board meeting and express your views on the web site update and discussion area.
-- Jim Hubbard (email@example.com), September 19, 2000.
Could someone please direct me to the web site's "update and discussion" area as pointed out by Jim Hubbard? Thanks very much.
-- Robin Caldwell (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 19, 2000.
Jim, maybe we're seeing things from different perspectives because I do not believe that we are a town. This goes back to that sticky question of what it means to be "like a small town," when we are basically a homeowners association. In an earlier Kentlands discussion forum on this site, Mike Janus said, "Unless I'm missing something however, we are not a small town, we are a community within a small city - and our efforts are those of a homeowners association" (Kentlands Community Dialogue, 9/16/99 posting).
I happen to agree with him. We are, for the most part, titleholders in a common interest development. This being the case, I think it is reasonable to expect the board to provide us with timely summaries of its actions and anticipated changes in its policies regarding such major community decisions as the example we are talking about. In fact, if this kind of information is not the core "information of interest to Kentlands Citizens" that belongs in a newsletter/newspaper published by the Board of Trustees (Administrative Resolution No. 5), then what is?
-- Mary N. Macdonald (email@example.com), September 19, 2000.
I agree, we are not a town. And we should expect the Board to provide timely notice on activities and decisions. You and I seem to disagree is whether or not they have been doing this. From my standpoint, if notices on meetings and agendas are posted (they are), and if notices on decions are posted (and they are), then the board is fulfilling its responsibility to communicate with us.
The issue has been complicated by the absence of the Crier. Hopefully that has been solved.
-- Jim Hubbard (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 26, 2000.
Jim, what do you mean by "the absence of the Crier"? I have an issue of the Town Crier for every month this year, so far--i.e., from January, 2000 through September, 2000.
-- Mary N. Macdonald (email@example.com), September 26, 2000.
My only question regarding the "pool deck expansion" and any other major additions to the Kentlands that is to be paid for out of our general and/or reserve funds is, how much more per month will this cost me? I do not believe we should be paying for additions out of our reserve funds when we still do not know how much it will cost us to MAINTAIN and PRESERVE our current community needs, i.e. repaving alleys, crumbling retaining walls, etc. In conclusion, I would like to hear from a representative of the Board regarding the ultimate price tag for this pool addition (direct out of pocket costs to the homeowners), other projects that are being considered over the next two to three years and how this will impact our reserves for future upkeep and potential repairs. Thanks
-- Lloyd Kaufman (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 28, 2000.
We can't count on the CRIER arriving at any set time. We get the G- Burg Gazette every Wednesday. I get my Post every morning. The CRIER arrives sometime between the first day and last day of the month. It's not that I don't appreciate the CRIER. I find it interesting for the most part. But if it isn't published on a regular schedule every month, it is difficult for the Board to use it for meeting notices and decision articles. That is why they rely on the bulletin boards. That seems a reasonable way to communicate with our citizenry.
-- Jim Hubbard (email@example.com), October 03, 2000.