By Gordon Pelton
“Lake Wildwood is Directionally Confused.” That’s what Bob Murray told us on January 8th in a presentation to the Planning Committee. Directionally confused? What did Bob mean? He was talking about where the Association is headed developmentally and he suggested we can’t get there because we aren’t sure where “there” is. To me, Bob was saying that we don’t have a common goal, a vision of what we want Lake Wildwood to become.
I know our individual visions differ. A number of us see a restaurant with a lake view, others a brand new clubhouse. A few envision a fitness room in the Community Center while still others want it elsewhere, perhaps in the old clubhouse next to a new one. Some want to open restaurant dining and golf to neighbors outside the gates, others do not. A few members are set on designing a new clubhouse before most of us have weighed in even on where it should be located. These differing views exemplify Bob Murray’s characterization of us being directionally confused: wherever we are going, unless we all get pointed toward the same “there,” we aren’t going to get anywhere. Without a shared goal the road will likely take us to the wrong place.
So how do we decide what we want Lake Wildwood to become, how do we define our common goal, a goal that can be expressed through the Association’s annual Master Plans? Bob Bumgarner, at the end of his December 21st article, Creating Our Future Together, has this to suggest: “Finally we must transform our view of dated amenities as problems to be solved and instead, envision a set of possibilities for the future that are consistent with the wishes of most members and which will garner the votes needed to approve necessary funding. In this way, we can create our future together.” Bob also tells us in the article that, “People commit to that which they have a hand in creating.”
The messages I get from these two passages are 1) to be successful, a goal must be shared by most of us, and 2) it’s crucial that member wishes and priorities be fully understood and fully considered in defining and achieving that goal. In past years, member input has been facilitated by the Planning Committee as it prepared its annual updates of the Master Plan for approval at the Boards’ October meetings. No such approval has been obtained since 2010. And this year the Planning Committee has been bypassed in one of the biggest projects that any conceivable future for Lake Wildwood would include: planning for upgrade or replacement of the clubhouse. In place of the Planning Committee, the Board has created several ad hoc committees to handle planning for the clubhouse.
Some of those ad hoc committees, in apparent haste, seem to have skipped several steps in what should be an orderly democratic process. For example, we are told that major decisions have already been made, decisions that clearly should not be made until all obtainable member input has been considered. An article in the January 11, 2013 TWI tells us that: “An… effort looked at desires of known users of the clubhouse. Findings were presented at a town hall meeting where Member support indicated that the present location was the desired choice.” This article raised a lot of questions for me: What other effort looked at member desires? Who are these known users? How many members attended the town hall meeting? Who made that present location decision? When I checked with the article’s author I found that the referenced effort occurred eight years ago. Well, then, didn’t that location decision expire about seven years ago? Almost 40% of our membership has turned over in the intervening years. Surely a new effort to consider current member desires and priorities is now imperative — especially as regards the location of any new clubhouse.
People’s ideas vary, priorities differ and the composition of our Board changes every year so it’s difficult to sustain a plan over a period of years. Hopefully we can all work together to arrive at a plan that can achieve membership approval, a plan that is not simply a set of guidelines that any newly constituted Board of Directors may ignore at its pleasure.
So, before too much money is spent on a new clubhouse project, a project we will all eventually have to vote on anyway, let’s see if together we can create a plan that incorporates intended improvements to all our amenities, a plan for the future, a plan that we can all believe in and vote into being, a Masterful Plan.