Get Involved On Clubhouse Planning

Guest Editorial 2-10-2013 – Wildwood Interactive

Marty Domagala – Hummingbird Drive

Mike Doscher – Camas Court

We are writing this to encourage Members to become actively involved in the Board’s current efforts at planning for a new or remodeled Clubhouse. From our experience in the planning and consensus-building that resulted in the Community Center, we can tell you that over two years and thousands of hours of volunteer work, and many town hall meetings, went into this effort. Key to this successful undertaking was the community becoming actively involved early and throughout the process. In the end all these efforts led to a strong majority vote for the project.

We are concerned that the Board’s current aggressive Clubhouse schedule and process has leapfrogged several steps that any large project anywhere must follow to be a success. First and foremost for our Clubhouse are its basic requirements. What Member needs should the design be focused on achieving? Second is the forging of a community consensus around these requirements so that the final design best meets those requirements. Given LWAs many and diverse interests, this is a very tough job that any Board must facilitate. In fact we contend that consensus-building is the hardest of all Board responsibilities, something that we must all help in shaping. It’s also a tough task for each of us too, for in the end many of us will have to “give up” on our individual ideas for solving our Clubhouse problem, deferring to and buying into a broader consensus for the betterment of the entire community.

If the Board continues to follow the course that it’s on, LWA funds will be spent on architects and engineers BEFORE the broad community has had input on the foregoing steps, including the fundamental planning assumptions around requirements. As one example, the current “conceptual” design being discussed with architects is founded on a very small group’s vision of what LWA needs. One of these requirements assumes the majority of us want to significantly enlarge our dining area and kitchen using the current service model.  That assumption seems to infer that we need more space and that demand is exceeding our facilities capacity. But from history and many town halls, one of the factors that led us to recommend building the Community Center before the Clubhouse was the Member-shared concerns about spending large sums of money on a heavily subsidized building and operation. Since the current draft budget undergoing Board review calls for a $200,000 Clubhouse subsidy, shouldn’t the Board enlist Member input now on whether their past subsidy concerns still exist, and solicit their ideas on how this issue could be addressed in any new or remodeled Clubhouse?

Hence we are recommending that the Board take a pause in its ongoing process and host a series of town halls or workshops for some serious discussions on the basic assumptions/requirements for any Clubhouse in LWW. Their current process would have us provide input AFTER the tens of thousands of Member dollars are spent on a Clubhouse conceptual design and a table top model. Is that the most timely and cost effective way of presenting the “answer”, only to have significant Member input at that stage on some basic fundamentals that will cost even more for the architects to address?

From the recent MWA structural review it appears that something has to be done with our Clubhouse. The three possible courses suggested by their analysis are fixing what we have, significantly remodeling it, or building a new Clubhouse on the hill.  The current conceptual design the Board is working on calls for a 15,000 square foot facility there with parking spaces for 60 cars. MWA, based on their recent experience at Lake of the Pines, claims a new building would cost some $225 per square foot—this would result in cost of about $3.4 million. Per MWA, over and beyond this amount would be the cost of demolishing the current structure as well as site and infrastructure upgrades. And with the Board conceptual design parameters also calling for additional features such as a new Admin building and golf pro shop, costs well above $4 million dollar range can be expected. So, if Members approve this and the resultant expenditure of their funds at the ballot box, this project will be the largest ever constructed at Lake Wildwood.

Please get involved. If you are unable to attend a Board meeting to present your views, please send your comments to them at If you want others to consider what you have to say, send letters to TWI. Further, if you want to enter into an online dialog with others on this and other Association matters log on to Wildwood Interactive at


7 thoughts on “Get Involved On Clubhouse Planning

  1. Submitted for By Maynard

    Perhaps many members share my feelings about our present clubhouse. I am attached to it and would not want it destroyed at a cost of millions of dollars when for less than one million all ails could be cured and it can serve the membership for decades into the future.

    I have attached photos for you since many members may not be familiar with the four lots owned by our Association, and thus may not want to walk over the lots to gain sufficient knowledge of these valuable properties..

    Expanding a clubhouse in the present location will not solve a growing parking lot shortfall and the ascent to the building. Putting in another expensive elevator seems only a partial solution as well.

    If we are to maintain a quality development, the answer is to improve the present clubhouse, and in addition, develop a clubhouse on the lake utilizing the four large lakefront lots owned be the Association near the dam. This location can provide adequate parking and enough room for a combination meeting room & theatre. Presently, our meeting room, the Cedar Room, is approved for less than 250 members, forcing repeated meetings to accommodate only a fraction of the membership.

    Lunch and evening meals could be served allowing both LWA members and those of the public to utilize the dining room which could help support our club. This can be accomplished from this location without allowing non-member vehicle access to Wildwood.

    The attraction of a lake view during meals will attract additional utilization of the dining room and likely bring the facility to a break-even status or perhaps even rise to a profitable business for the first time in our history.

    Look over the photos I have attached and draw your own conclusions. Your comments and or feedback, positive or negative will be appreciated. It is my hope that my efforts might be a contribution to LWW that we one day enjoy a first class lakefront dining facility.

    By Maynard
    Skipper Court

  2. A little background and perspective for Members, both new and old, on the Community Center…there’s a saying, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” — in so many words it means if you insist on doing something perfectly, often you won’t get any improvement at all. As Mike Doscher and I indicated in our post, it took lots of time and effort from a whole host of volunteers to move the Community Center from significant Member input on requirements to developing the consensus needed to bring this expensive project to a vote. Along the way tradeoffs were made in terms of building size, functionality and cost as we tried to accommodate the often varying views of our Members. We also communicated extensively with the community throughout the detailed planning process via townhalls, Board meetings, and in writing. In the end we were fortunate to obtain a very favorable vote from the Members, of the over 1700 ballots cast, more than 80% voted for the project.

    I too have been disappointed that the uitlization of the facility hasn’t been greater, but that may be changing—it was reported by a Recreation Committee member at last weeks’ Board budget session that tracking numbers show the building has seen a large increase in usage over the last quarter or so. Hopefully this is a trend that will continue into the spring and summer months, and well into the future.

  3. Mr. Towne,
    As one that was on the planning committee at the time the community was built, I can tell you that we never talked about a fitness center, a ballroom as such or a resturant. The old building was a recereation building where exercise classes were held and smaill groups met. The explansion of that building was to include a larger room for meetings and exercise programs.
    In the beginning no one wanted to spend the money for the lower level, which proved to be
    very inexpensive extra space. At that time it was determined that the clubhouse was the center of social life for Lake Wildwood and that has not changed. 80% of the revenue at the clubhouse comes from golfers because there are 100 plus golfers on the course everyday.
    And many if not most group meals are for golfing groups. For that reason a major kitchen
    was not part of the community center plan. There were mistakes made but basically it is
    serving the needs as intended. I think ‘community center’ sounds better than recreation center anyway.
    As far as building a new clubhouse, that project is way over due. Ask any realtor what a new clubhouse would do for our property values. Lake of the Pines has a new pro shop and a new clubhouse in the making but their golf course is a cow pasture. We have a great golf course and now we need a clubhouse restaurant to keep up with other communities.
    Many of us thought the clubhouse should come before the community center but it was determined that if we did a good job with the community center, the residents would be more receptive to a new clubhouse project. That of course did not happen and by trying to cut corners to please residents we got what we paid for.
    The present clubhouse planning group is trying of avoid that mistake.

    • Everyone in this community needs to remember (especially the golfers). Lake Wildwood is not a country club. I repeat. LAKE WILDWOOD IS NOT A COUNTRY CLUB!!! Country clubs are expected to have a clubhouse, restaurant and a bar to serve the club’s members. A person must join a country club, which means paying an initiation fee and monthly dues. We just moved back from AZ where we lived in the Anthem Country Club. The initiation fee was $40,000 and the monthly dues were over $360. This money was used to support and maintain the two golf courses, two clubhouses and two fitness centers. The monthly dues were not fixed and could be raised at the discretion of the management company.

      Lake Wildwood is an HOA that contains a golf course and a lake. Homeowners (now renters) may use the golf course at any time. There is no initiation fee, no monthly dues. Golfers pay by rounds played or buy a yearly pass. All residents of LWW pay to maintain and subsidize the golfing amenity, as well as all the other amenities in LWW. Currently all property owners in LWW are subsidizing the clubhouse restaurant to the tune of two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) a year! I remember when Amber was fired as the clubhouse manager because the clubhouse was running a fifty thousand dollar ($50,000) deficit for the year. It seems like every year the BOD appoints an ad hoc restaurant committee or does a survey to determine on how to improve the restaurant. I can’t tell you how many managers we have burned through since Amber left, but one thing is quite clear. The residents have voted with their pocket books. LWW does not support the restaurant, so it is time to stop the fiscal bleeding and CLOSE THE RESTURANT! Imagine the improvements that could be made to the communities’ amenities (including the golf course) with an extra $200,000 a year to work with. I propose we open a grill that would offer our golfing community/residents the ability to purchase simple breakfast and lunch items. The food should be delivered “fast food” style. All bar supplies should be moved from the dungeon to the main level. These changes would allow a reduction in clubhouse staff and the resulting savings.

      The current clubhouse needs to be safe and sound, but that’s it. The Cedar Room should be converted to office space and all administration employees, with the exception of the front desk staff, should be moved. This will open storage space, so all the records currently being stored in the “dirt room” can be moved. The old meeting room should be made an employee lounge. The bar and Pine Room can remain as is or modified to expand the bar area.

      This may sound a little silly, but we need to remodel the Community Center! The Oak Room and the level below it needs to be pushed out as far towards the parking area as possible. This will double the size of the Oak Room. The room would need to be reconfigured, but I believe it would have the capability to have a stage and be the main banquet/meeting room. All special events in both the Oak and Pine rooms could be catered. The expanded first floor would have an area for a fitness center and a game room (pool table, ping pong etc.). I believe the above proposals would fit the community’s needs at a far less cost than all previous suggestions.

      Since LWW opened its doors the clubhouse has been the community center, by default. As the community has grown, the clubhouse was expanded to meet those needs. The community has now grown to a point where the clubhouse can no longer satisfy those needs. Unfortunately when the Community Center was constructed, those needs were not addressed. It’s not too late. The Community Center can be modified and the Clubhouse refreshed to meet our needs for now and the future. This can be accomplished without spending the huge amount of money necessary to construct a new clubhouse. Frankly, I’ve studied the CCRs extensively and nowhere do I see a requirement that the clubhouse must be the community center. It is time for LWW to enter the 21st century. Transform the Community Center into a true center of the community and let the clubhouse serve as its original purpose. A place for the golfing community to eat, drink and play golf! As this community continues to age we will be faced with upgrading our infrastructure. What we don’t need is to saddle our community with millions of dollars of unnecessary debt!

    • Marty, I appreciate the concensus building that you did on the community center. It would be nice to see that happen with the clubhouse. In the Q&A period after the clubhouse tours, I asked why we were hiring architects to do models before we had community input from the survey,the tours, or meetings. I was told that neither the survey or the tour survey would be reported on at the upcoming Town Hall but only in TWI and that the survey of what folks would be willing to spend was not part of the clubhouse project but an independent effort. I was told that the model was the only way to get concensus…folks needed to see what could be done. That would suggest that we need to have models of several options, not just one. It does seem premature. Thank you for writing about this.

  4. “From our experience in the planning and consensus-building that resulted in the Community Center, we can tell you that over two years and thousands of hours of volunteer work, and many town hall meetings, went into this effort. Key to this successful undertaking was the community becoming actively involved early and throughout the process. In the end all these efforts led to a strong majority vote for the project.”

    I’m going to borrow a phrase from ESPN. Are you kidding me? The Community Center is like a Ferrari Daytona. It’s beautiful to look at, but hardly used. It is an albatross. It has no purpose other than to provide meeting space. The Oak Room is too small to be a proper banquet room. It does not have a bar and has a miniscule a dance floor! I remember when the concepts of building a community center were proposed about seven years ago. Plans were resurrected from a proposal that originated in the 80s. Those plans included a proper ballroom, larger than the Cedar Room. There was a fitness center, a stage and even a restaurant overlooking the lake. I believe there was space for a game room that could include a pool table, ping pong etc. I remember discussing the proposal with a member of the board. This is what he told me, “The Community Center will never be the center of the community. That will always be the clubhouse.” I looked at him and replied, “Then don’t call it a Community Center! Call it the big meeting room place!!!” So, even with thousands of hours of community input, you got exactly what the BOD intended from the beginning.

    Now these same people want to spend millions of dollars, 8 million was mentioned during the clubhouse tour, to demolish and rebuild the clubhouse. This plan also includes a new pro shop and an expanded restaurant. Get real! This community has many needs. Spending millions of dollars on a new clubhouse is not, in my opinion, the best use of our limited resources. My ideas are already posted in another thread, so I won’t repost it here. I encourage you to take a look.

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