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Thursday, November 1, 2007

GNWCIA Meeting Report: A Real Barn Burner...

This evening, I was otherwise detained until around 8:30PM and was not able to make it to the first hour of the meeting of Great Northwest Community Improvement Association Board of Directors. Based on my brief attendance and by all credible accounts from what I missed, this was quite the event.

Herewith my notes of the short time I was available to dictate. And by the way, if you were one of the many residents who attended the meeting, held at the Emerald Valley facility, or a member of the board, please don't hesitate to pipe in with a second opinion. This particular evening, I wrote as fast as I could, but honestly, couldn't keep up with much of the banter and bickering.

When I came in, the discussion was hot and heavy about the tennis courts. If you recall from my last report, a few residents had voiced concerns about the crappy state of the tennis courts, and some people opined that there was not enough interest in tennis to spend the money needed to repair them.

A counter to that argument has been that if the courts were in good shape, people would use them. I fall in the group of people who probably will never step foot on the courts, but want them maintained simply because in a deteriorated state, they do not provide any added value to my home, and possibly detract from same.

So apparently, before I arrived, Director Guy Pucci must have been talking about spending the needed capital on the courts to bring them back to serviceability. Director Richard Garcia brought a quickly assembled plan before the board to propose a 30-day feasibility study with at least some of the following points:
  • 30 days of free tennis lessons to interested kids and adults
  • Fixing up/cleaning/painting the courts enough to make them usable
  • Paying a tennis pro a reasonable fee to give the lessons
Director Garcia proposed that the board could do this study for $1,500 to $2,000. Director Pucci pointed out that this idea was less of a feasibility study and more of a new program. He countered with the idea that the Rec Director could poll the participants of existing sports programs to see what the interest was. Further, he would like to see a determination of how much other programs charge for participation. In other words, in the same way that the association charges a participation fee for soccer and other team sports, if we engaged in a program of tennis lessons or something like this, it would be for fee.

There was much "discussion". I had seen people in the audience yell out remarks in the past, maybe one or two people with brief comments such as, "Mr. Chair, Director Long is out of order.", but this was different. People through out the audience were making statements; hell, even I piped in with an unwarranted comment or two. One gentleman sitting behind me prefaced his remarks with, "I know I'm not allowed to say anything, but..."

Finally through all of the ruckus, Director SK Sharma, whom I had never heard speak before, gave quite an eloquent statement regarding the fact that he has lived in this association for over 22 years and when he finally retires and sells his house, he expects to turn a profit. Further, he pointed out that the facilities, including the tennis courts are intended to raise the value of the homes, not detract from that value. I don't have the verbatim quote but the gist of it was that even if a single person doesn't play tennis, we need to maintain the courts. At some point or another, he also used the word "Bloody". In the end, his remarks drew applause from the audience, though I must confess, I think I instigated it with my loud clapping.

Director Janet Doherty pointed out that the demograhics of the neighborhood has changed in the years since the original tennis courts were built and there is far less interest these days. Director Sigrid Long rebutted that if the courts were in proper shape, perhaps people would utilize them.

To this, Maintenance Director Fred Murphy made a suggestion that we could go from four tennis courts to two, relocate the basketball court onto the other tennis court, then turn the abandoned basketball court into a parking lot. This would relieve some of the parking issues at the pool. Brilliant!

In the end, Chairman Lee Besing had Director Garcia restate the motion about the feasibility study and it simply was not seconded by any other directors and thus died.

Up next, an issue near and dear to my heart: Grafitti. Turns out that this past weekend, the Lodge at Silver Creek got tagged. It was mentioned that Director Garcia has been going out and painting over the tagged areas on his own and sure could use some volunteers. Director Long brought up the fact that they should take advantage of the A-Team to help, but that drew lots of discussion from the crowd (myself included).

As a side note - and unrelated to the meeting, my wife and I along with several neighbors had signed up to volunteer for the A-Team a while back. Apparently, it has taken some time to get things going because none of us have been contacted by the coordinator. We'd still like to learn more about this program, so if you happen to be coordinating, please leave a comment or e-mail me.

In the end, I did volunteer to assist Director Garcia with his painting efforts and if you feel like you can help out, I'm sure he would love the company.

Given that the meeting was supposed to go to the discussion of the budget, Chairman Besing noted that a lot of time had already been spent on other business and that perhaps they should delay the budget discussion for a special meeting next week.

Director Pucci instead presented a motion to set the 2008 assessment to $222.00. This is a rollback from the current assessment of $235.00. His motion drew lots of quibbling amongst the crowd. Most residents were for the rollback but at least one person, former Chair Joe Martinez pointed out that it was senseless to make such a decision without having come up with a budget. Director Garcia quickly seconded the motion and Director Doherty immediately was in favor.

There was a very humorous exchange between Directors Long and Sharma during the confused discussions. From my seat, it was obvious that Director Long had been out of the room when the motion was made and seconded. It appeared that the other board members did not realize she had slipped out for a short potty break. So when Chairman Besing asked her if she had any comments, she was clearly confused, thinking the discussion was about a budget item. When Director Sharma started to restate the motion, Director Long interrupted him and Sharma quickly and bluntly stated that if she wanted an explanation she should be quiet and let him explain. This drew guffaws from the assembled crowd.

This time, when the vote was taken, Directors Long and Sharma voted against the motion and stating that it would not be prudent to set the assessment, Chairman Besing also voted against, killing the motion.

But this created a further discussion point and that is, that the GNWCIA has $926,000.00 in the bank. Yes, of course there are bills to be paid. But there are also assessments (whether they are $222.00 or $235.00 or more), the pot only gets bigger.

In the end, the board could not agree on a day to hold a special meeting next week to discuss the budget, so they will wait until the next scheduled meeting.

See you there!

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I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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