By Gordon Pelton
Since Gayle and I moved to Lake Wildwood three years ago, there seems to have been ongoing, spirited and often noisy discussions concerning the direction we should go with our parks and amenities. Some would describe these discussions as bickering, even arguing. At times, parts of these discussions crowd noisily in my mind, a clamor of disembodied voices. Here’s what that sounds like. Listen.
More boat storage at Meadow Park? Sorry, we like the grass. An elevator for the community center? Hey, nobody’s for that. Let’s build four pickle ball courts somewhere. Nope, $80,000 is too much and the golf course needs a million dollars in renovations. And the elevator’s gonna cost $120,000. Shouldn’t we have our own fitness center? Two hundred of us agreed to a monthly fee for an on-site exercise room. Tough, might bankrupt the one outside. Pickleball is noisy—it’d ruin any park. Besides, the pickleball interlopers stole the basketball court. Where’ll the kids skate now? Ooops! Waited too long, now the elevator’s $135,000. Pickleball on the Marina Tennis Courts afternoons when they’re empty? Oh no! Never! Not on our tennis courts!
And so it goes.
True, decisions like these are difficult. So, how to decide? How about trying to follow the will of the membership? But wait. That doesn’t work because no specific interest group at Lake Wildwood has enough members to influence our Board on their issues. Even golf, the largest group, cannot always carry a vote. Other clubs and amenity groups have even fewer members. The Art Club has only 100. The Tennis and Pickleball Clubs each have about 150.
And yet, every one of our activities and interests are important to at least some of us. And in the aggregate, each of these affects the overall well-being of our membership. On September 28, Alex Alexander, a former member of our association’s Board of Directors, published an article In The Wildwood Independent (TWI) under the title, Quality-of-Life in Lake Wildwood. In the article, Alex reminds us that, “even though each activity or amenity may serve only a small constituency, collectively the totality of all activities and amenities adds up to a strong sense of quality of life for Lake Wildwood…” In other words, the overall well-being of the community depends upon the successful pursuit of the interests of numerous small groups.
We all know that the existence, condition and appearance of our parks and amenities have a huge effect on property values and on quality of life. So, how do we answer the question: How much money should be spent on our parks and amenities? In August 2011, a survey of our membership included a question designed to elicit insights about our members’ desires for the future at Lake Wildwood. The statistically significant results showed that just less that 22% want minimum costs (they also want preservation of the past) – interpret that as “no progress.” The remainder, 78%, is at least okay with (or actually wants) either affordable or even aggressive progress. Citing the survey in his TWI article, Alex also reminds us that only 7% of our membership “are in the category we call low financial resources…” who resist any increases in costs.
Near the end of his TWI article, Alex poses a question which he characterizes as thorny. He asks, “Do we let compassion for the low-end of our financial spectrum constrict our spending, and thus limit the quality of life we might achieve for the vast majority of our membership?” I would add that restricting our spending on parks and amenities also has the potential to limit property values.
Where would the additional money for such expenditures come from? Our Board of Directors has taken decisions in the past that make the Association’s operations more efficient; I’m confident they will continue to do that. Also, the survey results say that 78% of our membership will be okay with reasonable dues and assessment increases. So, shouldn’t each of us ask our Board to make decisions accordingly — and shouldn’t we support them as they do? And as individuals, in supporting our Board, couldn’t we try to make room for each others’ needs? As members of a group, couldn’t we cooperate and try to accommodate other groups’ requirements?
Together we can create a better Lake Wildwood.
If you would like to participate directly in the conversation on this and other issues like it, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your email address will be used only to communicate with you on matters related to our interests as members of the Association.