Response to February 28, EBits Articles – Beyond This There Be Dragons

A response to a Lake Wildwood Assoc. Ebits article  From Mike Doscher

Asking Questions is the End of the World?

Don Streseman, in his capacity with the Board’s Clubhouse planning Group, used Ebits this past week to publish an article (content below) that might be considered by some to be inappropriate.  Singling out community members raising reasonable and well founded questions regarding the Board’s current approach to the Clubhouse renovation will not stop the growing awareness and discussion of this situation.  The community needs to understand that the Board has not yet voted on hiring an architect, but they are moving in that direction.  Several of us have voiced opposition to spending our money on an architect without having some basic functional requirements agreed by the community, or at least discussed.  We have voiced our opinions with the Board in private and in open Board Meetings before making our opposition public.


I applaud Don’s work on communicating with the community regarding the present issues with the Clubhouse.  His tours and discussions are helping the community to understand the challenges.  Where I take issue is when Don bends the facts to justify the Board’s current approach.  Don noted that the “Clubhouse Requirements Development – Working Draft” was very impressive and that it would be provided to the architect as a reflection of need.  As one of the authors of that document I have reminded Don and the Board that this was a “wish list.” The Planning Committee recommended that a professional with Clubhouse strategic development skills be hired to work with the community sorting out the “wants” from the “needs”, and more important understanding the willingness to pay.  As long as Don was quoting this document why didn’t he note that the last section addressed further work required on “Business Scenarios to Test The Requirements?” These included outside use, various food service business models, and anticipated shifts in demographics (if any).

Rather than following the recommendations, the Board decided in the last few months to use a list of design requirements, that are a summarization of all the “wants,” and provide that list to an architect to develop a “conceptual design and model.”  That little exercise will cost us, based on Board discussions, somewhere between $35K and $100K.  The community would then be able to comment on the architect’s plans.  Assuming not everyone would agree with the design we could then begin to pay the architect for changes.  Good planning does not work this way.


Since Don likes to use analogies in his writing let’s look at a hypothetical couple who just moved to Wildwood.  They need to remodel their home so the husband and wife make independent lists of what they want in the home and they have asked their kids and a few friends that visit what they would want.  They put all the ideas into one long list.  So as a next step should they turn the list over to an architect and sign a contract to do a design?  Or should they sit down and agree on what is most important before they make that step?


A Clubhouse remodel has already been studied from numerous perspectives.  This Board undertaking is to look at a totally new facility and location.  The architect material, beyond the wish list, is very dated and is dealing with the confined thinking of our existing building.  Greenfield planning starts with considerable strategic analysis and communication with the community.  What do the current and future residents of Wildwood need?  Wouldn’t you want to have that conversation before the architect goes to work?


reprint of EBITS Article, the above responses is referencing:

Beyond This There Be Dragons – Don Streseman, Liaison to the Clubhouse Planning Group

Early cartographers did not have a complete picture of the world and used that notation to mark the unknown and to illustrate their fear of the uncharted. One day Christopher Columbus set sail and crossed that uncharted unknown. He did not fall off the edge of the world, nor did he meet any dragons.

It sometimes feels like we have some early day cartographers dwelling among us who want to make sure that we understand that dragons lurk beyond our known. Statements such as OMG, (that’s just added for emphasis) the Board didn’t get consensus on requirements for a Clubhouse. OMG, they’re moving too fast and have leapfrogged several important steps. OMG, they’re spending some money before they got consensus. OMG, they’re going to enlarge the kitchen and dining area before getting rid of the subsidy. OMG, it’s going to cost money to fix the Clubhouse issue. I really believe these people have the best interests of Wildwood at heart and are just voicing what they feel are major concerns. I don’t disagree with those concerns, we actually have many more, but I feel they should be addressed at the proper time and in the proper context.

I believe that the diversity in our community is a very healthy asset. That diversity, expressed by Members, helps provide direction for projects and concepts such as a master plan. The problem is not one of various opinions it’s the reluctance of the “silent majority” to express those opinions in a way that they can be considered in such planning. Hence the efforts we have been undertaking to bring awareness to Members. We welcome any and all assistance in bringing factual information to the Community so that members are knowledgeable about the many issues. We realize that there are facts and there are opinions and both have value, some in a positive and some in a negative way.

It sometimes seems like there may be a misunderstanding of the process the Board has undertaken to evaluate possible options for what is arguably the Heart of Wildwood- our Clubhouse, Admin Office and the golf Pro Shop. We have several scenarios for possible re-models of the Clubhouse building. We do not have a scenario for a new building that might encompass the functions of those three operations under one roof, with possible efficiencies and utility, relief to the access problem and also provide expressed wants and needs of the Community. Present efforts to develop a concept of what a new building might be so that such a plan can be compared to re-model options and presented to the Board for their evaluation and selection of a course of action. The conceptual design that was put on the table at the November Board meeting mentioned an Admin Office on the lower level by the parking lot. It might be more functional and less costly to have Admin offices, the Clubhouse and the Pro Shop under one roof. This will be evaluated by the selected architectural firm. They will also determine if the proposed structure and parking, along with the putting green and golf cart barn, can be accommodated in the targeted area. Yes, there is a charge for this service but firms that have responded to the RFP’s (Request for Proposal) indicate they will absorb a portion of those charges, if they are the selected firm.

There seems to be some expressed concern that members of the community have not been polled for their insight as to room size and number, restaurant operations, inclusion of utilization of the Community Center and willingness to pay for the chosen course of action. I’ve spent several hours reviewing various documents which summarize input from clubs, committees and Member comments as well as document from the Planning Committee titled “Clubhouse Requirements Development – Working Draft”. I am impressed with the extent of effort that has gone into evaluation and planning of what is required in the design of a Clubhouse. This information will be presented to the architecture firm for their design work. We will provide architects a historical view of meals served at the Clubhouse along with hours of operation to assist them in developing the recommended size of a kitchen and dining area. There are many questions and just as many concerns and they all must be addressed.

In discussions, more than a few people want to jump to their main concern, “what’s it going to cost?” At this point there are too many unknowns to provide an answer to that question. Then people come back with asking, “can you give us any indication?” At the risk of being misquoted I’ll offer the following illustration. Please take these numbers as strictly illustrative, by no means are they meant to be accurate costs of any option under consideration. You can do the same calculation on your financial calculator or your computer. Taking the $4 million figure Marty Domagala and Mike Doscher used in the recent “Letter to the Editor” in TWI, using an interest rate of 3.5% and a loan period of 20 years, the annual payment per lot calculates to be just under $100. Again, please remember that is only a sample number for those people that want to have some idea. I don’t want somebody to come back months from now and say, “Streseman told me the assessment would be $100 per lot.”

I cannot speak for the Board but can offer my experience working on a communications plan designed to gain input from the Community and provide information to Members and to the Board. In my opinion, the Board is very concerned with doing what is best for the Community. That does not mean doing what is best for each individual, but what is best for the overall Community. They, the Board, are expecting a complete and detailed analysis of all options to assist them in this important decision.

Some offer the opinion that the Board is moving too fast (that almost sounds like an oxymoron -Wildwood moving and too fast) and should slow the process. After all, this has been a topic with dozens of drawings and plans for the past ten years. In my opinion, the Board is moving toward a conclusion after the many years of indecision and will have obtained input from Members and professional services for consideration in their decision.


4 thoughts on “Response to February 28, EBits Articles – Beyond This There Be Dragons

  1. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video
    to make your point. You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be
    giving us something enlightening to read?

  2. Paul, someone sent me an email today asking if I had seen your LTE. This was my response… “I think that this is the type of debate that we should be having before we start hiring architects. We have always known that the Clubhouse would be a major undertaking and issues that have been long kept in the closet must be brought out and addressed. Much of what Paul writes has some merit. The Clubhouse exists today, as well as it does, based on the golfers’ use. The Board couldn’t bring itself to change the model even after some of us provided data and analysis to support such a move. Maintaining a full service restaurant is very costly. The culture of Wildwood has changed and we don’t really totally understand it yet. Example….The Social Committee is having problems breaking even with their events. Three years ago they couldn’t keep up with the demand. My bottom line question is, “where does Paul voice his opinion and have an open debate with people that have other views and then how and when do we come to alignment on a single view of the strategic future of the food service model and the resulting clubhouse facility?”

  3. I like Don, as a person. He is a hard working volunteer who dedicates a lot of his time to Lake Wildwood. What I’d like to know is when was he appointed the propaganda minister of Lake Wildwood? His articles in TWI, E-bits and his clubhouse tours are all designed to manipulate the people of LWW into building a new clubhouse. I would love to discuss the merits of his ideas versus mine or anyone else’s. I dropped my proposal off at Administration today and asked it be published in E-bits. I will be interested to see if the new GM allows the free flow of ideas within the community. We have a pretty good estimate of repair costs. I would like to see a solid estimate on a rebuild, including the demolition costs and the specifics on what they want to build. Then let’s have an open forum and discuss all the options.

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