You Can Make A Difference
By Robert Bumgarner, Sun Forest Dr.
Why do you suppose it is that so few members attend Board meetings, Board-sponsored workshops, or even engage in the most basic of governance processes like voting? For example, more than 1,500 members (53%) failed to vote in the 2012 Board of Directors election.
As a result of such inaction, the majority of homeowners cede control of our common enterprise to the minority, which then elects seven volunteers to direct the multi-million dollar corporation that runs Lake Wildwood. Unfortunately, this corporation is subject to very little oversight and is free to spend – or not spend – money on our common elements in ways that many may not support.
In five previous articles, Gordon Pelton and I have sought to identify some of the shortcomings associated with our current governance model and suggest ways in which we might encourage broader participation by the membership. Each of those articles, which covered the following topics, are available on the Wildwood Interactive website at http://www.lwwa.net.
- We reviewed the Board’s long struggle with how best to maintain and improve amenities such as our tired old Clubhouse, the golf course, boating facilities at Meadow Park, and recreational facilities like tennis and pickleball. Recent member surveys have shown that nearly 80% of the membership may be willing to fund such renovation and improvements.
- We noted that there has been a lack of continuity in decision-making from Board to Board, primarily because of the elections that reconstitute the Board each year. We suggested that the Master Plan, which is intended to reflect the wants, needs, and priorities of the members, should become the catalyst for consistent Board development decisions.
- We reported that the Board has not approved a Master Plan update in three years, which has led at least one commentator to suggest that Lake Wildwood has become “directionally confused.” Based on the principle that “people support that which they’ve had a hand in creating,” we again suggested that a Master Plan, produced in response to member input gleaned from Planning Committee workshops, should point the way toward the highest and best use of Association resources.
- We described a simple process that other associations have used to generate member consensus regarding capital improvements and their priorities. The key to success: present members with questions that relate directly to important alternatives, incorporate their recommendations into the Master Plan, and then inform the members how their ideas have been applied. The form and function of the Clubhouse restaurant provides a case in point.
- Capital Improvement (C.I.) funding is limited to a paltry 1.5% ($110,000±) of the prior year’s gross expenses and funds appropriated must be spent by year’s end or they revert to the operating budget. This effectively blocks long-term planning and prevents C.I. funds from being used as a development fund. Moreover, year-end, use-it-or-lose-it pressures often lead to expenditures on low-priority projects that add little value. We suggested amending this 40-year-old rule to enable long term planning and investment.
- We observed that Association finance policies have prevented us from accumulating the replacement reserves needed to update failing components of our aging golf course and seriously deficient Clubhouse. Present rules exclude the golf course and Clubhouse structure from the replacement reserve fund.
As a result of these serious shortcomings, we have reached a critical point in the history of Lake Wildwood, one that challenges us all to decide whether we will continue to ignore the realities of our current situation, which will certainly diminish the value of our properties, or, instead, implement needed corrective actions. Those actions will, of course, be determined by our Board of Directors – with or without your input.
With the election of three new directors less than two months away, now is the time for YOU to become informed on the issues facing our association. You will then be well positioned to vote for the three candidates who are best qualified to address issues of concern to you.
You can and will make an important difference in the future of our community if you vote.
LET’S ALL VOTE!