Board members present: Matt Gleason, Mary-Alice Lynch, Larry Schoen, Rick Sturm, Absent: Chris Arena
Additional homeowners present: Naushad Ahmad, Janet Amedio, Bob Bylancik, Julia Carosella, Jessica Dembo, Ginny and Charlie Ducar, John Goetz, Sandeep Gupta, Dan LaMarche, Jim Lynch, Wayne Mondelblatt, Paul Singh, Maimona Rasoully, Allen and Tiffany Van Cleef, and Khine Win.
President Rick Sturm welcomed all attendees. He extended apologies of Board member Chris Arena who was unable to attend. A particular welcome was issued to new neighbor Khine Win. He thanked Mary-Alice Lynch for agreeing to fill the Board vacancy until the next election.
Rick briefly reviewed the composition and terms of the Board; terms are 2 years, with terms staggered to allow for continuity. This year, 3 of the 5 positions will be up for election. Volunteers are needed to do the work of the Board. If enough people do not come forward, the Board will need to consider hiring a management company, which would require a significant dues increase in order to cover the additional costs. Even if a management company is hired, we would still need a Board to select and oversee the work of the company, plus do many of the required fiduciary roles of the Board. A notice will be sent out this summer explaining the election process and requesting nominations, for the election to be held at the fall meeting in October. All are urged to consider running for election.
Concern was expressed regarding low attendance at meeting. Rick noted that the spring meeting is not required, but was instituted at the request of the membership initially. It was suggested that interest would increase if an agenda is sent out well in advance. Rick said that would be done in the future. It was also suggested that the Board could potentially poll all the members with 3 or 4 possible dates to see which might be convenient for the most owners. Rick responded that we were restricted on dates depending on room availability and Board member schedules, so there was not much flexibility.
Rick thanked Hiren Pathak for work in setting up a Southwick Meadows website. Each owner will have their own login. The Board is in the process of deciding what documents to put up.
Vice President’s Report:
Matt Gleason thanked the Architectural Review Committee for their work: Janet Amedeo, Robin Cohn, Charlie Ducar, Brian Kelly, and Jodi Schoen. He noted that there had been 6requests approved so far this year including fences, patios, hot tubs and sheds. While the Declarations stipulate a 90 day turn around for requests, the Committee and Board have been turning them around in about 2 weeks.
Matt also has explored sealcoating the bike path to prolong the life of the path; the initial thought was to do 1/3 of the bike path each year for the next 3 years to spread the costs over different budget years. Bids were solicited and 4 replies were received. All responders suggested doing the whole path in one year, and there turned out to be significant cost savings by doing so. Cost will be approximately $2,500. The Board will make its decision on letting the contract at its next meeting, but we do plan to do the whole bike path this year. Thus, the path will be closed for a couple of days. Once work is scheduled, notices will go out and signs put up about the closure. Dan LeMarche (Revelations Lawn Service) asked to be notified of date in advance so that it would not impede common land maintenance.
Matt also noted that an owner had expressed concern about the danger of children playing on the rocks around the retention pond. After discussion, the Board concluded that this was a parental, not an HOA issue, and urged parents to warn children of the dangers.
Matt continued to provide an update for Chris Arena who is in charge of HOA compliance:
It was noted that some feedback had been received on the HOA fine policy; the Board is in the process of reviewing those comments and will update owners on any changes that might be made.
Letters re non-compliance mailboxes will be going out soon. It was noted that several mailboxes were damaged this year by plows. The Declarations do prescribe the specific kind needed to ensure conformity. It was suggested that the Town Highway Department may replace any with conforming posts, as they have for some other development. The Board will explore this and get back to the community.
Larry Schoen reviewed the previously distributed budget expenditures to date. He noted the following:
- The $778 charge to repair the sink hole came out of last year’s budget.
- Sign repair was also paid out of last year’s budget.
- There have been no legal fees this year, and none are anticipated at this time.
- If whole seal coating of bike path is done this year, it will go over what is budgeted, but costs will be made up by unexpended funds from other lines.
- Berm repair/costs have yet to be determined. It was noted that grass in common area looks much better this year and has filled out well due to fertilization. There are still a few remaining bare spots, however, that need to be addressed and may need to be reseeded in the fall.
- A constituent expressed concern about the unsightly lack of maintenance in the common area where shrubs and planting areas were initially installed but are not being maintained. The Board will consider how this might be addressed.
- Concern was expressed regarding the truck traffic, road dirt and truck parking hazards at the end of Kendra due to the construction of the new home there. It was noted that the roads do not belong to the HOA, but to the town, so issues concerning them should be directed there. It was also noted that the new house is not a part of Southwick Meadows HOA, so we have no jurisdiction on that property.
- Interest was expressed in being able to install newspaper tubes, as newspapers left on driveways are a hazard to snow blowers in the winter. It was pointed out that tubes are specifically prohibited by the Declarations, and the Board has asked that any that have been installed in the past be removed. However, several attendees pointed out that arrangements could often be made directly with delivery people to have them delivered to the porch in inclement weather.
- Interest was expressed in having the ability to have basketball hopes in front yards. This too is specifically prohibited. The question was raised about changing the Declarations. Several attendees pointed out that this was a costly and labor intensive process that would require a large percentage of homeowners to agree and it was doubtful there would be support of this.
- A question was raised regarding the white arrows that had just been painted on the roads. A knowledgeable attendee said these were done by the town to mark drainage grates; in that way, if there is any kind of a water back-up due to the drains being plugged in winter weather when the grates might be covered by snow, road crews can find them to be sure they are unplugged.
- A question was raised about the possibility of turning the common land over to the town so we did not have to maintain it. The Board did discuss that possibility with the town early on, but the town was not at all interested in taking it over. It should also be noted that developments that did that years ago pay an additional “parks” tax which is greater than our whole HOA dues.
- An attendee suggested social activities be planned by the HOA. The Board is focused on fulfilling the obligations required by the Declarations, but others in the neighborhood are encouraged to organize social events as they would like; the Board would be glad to help publicize events. It was explained that for the first several years of the development an all neighborhood summer picnic was planned in the common area by about 5 people in the neighborhood, led by Tiffany Van Cleef. When new organizers were solicited, none were found, so it has not occurred in the past couple of years. All agreed they would welcome such events in the future.
Being no other business, the meeting was adjourned.
Mary-Alice Lynch, Secretary