by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
President Diane Caldwell opened the meeting with a sermon on ‘conscience.’ She pointed out that board members are very different people who often disagree, sometimes angrily, but in the end support the majority decision. We must all take responsibility for what we say. The EL Facebook page is filled with misinformation born of ignorance and deliberate misrepresentation, but we cannot dwell on that. What is ahead is not a pretty picture. She went on to list many things that must be fixed or replaced. An example was the outdoor pool bathhouse which, due to water damage, has been condemned and must be replaced. Our entire infrastructure is deteriorating. We have not had a dues increase in 6 years and we desperately need one. She urged that people be part of the solution, not the problem. If we do not increase dues, amenities will have to be partially or wholly shut down. These include the outdoor pool, the trash compactor, bar & grill and the community center itself.
Treasurer Stefania Johnson gave what has become the traditional gloomy financial picture. Among the lowlights, the operations budget is $105K over budget. Dues collection for fiscal year 2016/17 was down $66K over dues collection for fiscal year 2015/16. Dues collection is currently up $41K over the same period last year. The bar & grill, taken as a unit, continue to lose money. For the month of April the combined revenue/expense difference was a negative $2,117. For the year, costs exceeded income by $35.5K. Delinquency collections, at least, are up for the third consecutive year.
New Manager Laura Jones will (or has) start on Tuesday, May 23rd. The newsletter has been delivered and is available at a number of locations around the community. It is intended to become a monthly publication. The Annual Meeting is scheduled for Saturday, August 19th. The abstract company hired to research properties of questionable affiliation to the association, has not performed and a new company is being sought. The Rules and Regulations document is on the website and can be picked up at the office. Joe Gallagher of Ecoscientific has put buoys out to mark the area of the invasive species (cabomba) on Mountaintop Lake. Boaters are reminded to wash their boats to avoid transporting spores from one lake to another. Boat washing signs ordered at $35 each. Indoor pool roof repair and mold removal will begin 5/22. A new compactor will soon be delivered. Two more clusters of mailboxes, 16 boxes each, will be installed by the post office at Glade Drive and Emerald Boulevard. Maintenance is working to repair gravel roads. We are looking for a new proposal for spray patching. A new dump truck with 9′ plow and tailgate spreader can be purchased for $62K. (The board voted to approve this purchase unanimously). A new commercial grade landscaping vehicle is available for $5,999 including a $500 discount. (Board voted to approve purchase)
During Directors’ Comments Bob Lauri moved that the grill be closed. Buz Whelan seconded. After a spirited discussion, the motion failed. Buz Whelan then moved that after a 90 day period, if the grill were losing in excess of $1,250 per month, a rate of $15K per year, that it be closed. Al Leslie seconded. After another spirited round of comments from the directors, the vote was 2 for, 2 against and 2 abstaining. President and Chair Diane Caldwell then broke the deadlock by voting for the motion and it therefore passed.
Director Whelan suggested that, after conferring with the Maintenance Committee, Dan Glasgow and Betty Goodline of the Events Committee and newly promoted Ass’t Manager Daryl Gamble, that Cleanup Day be skipped this year. Whelan reasoned that the community has never looked cleaner and that only 11 or 12 people typically show up for the task. The one to two miles total that they clean is not significant when considering we have 36 miles of roads, 72 when both sides of roads are figured. Brad Jones of preferred Management disagreed, stating that it was a tradition that should be maintained. After some discussion it was decided to continue the tradition of Cleanup Day.
Reporting for the Finance and Planning Committee, Earl Frank said our cash position has improved since February. He seconded the comments that the grill is losing excessive money.
Dan Glasgow, Events Committee chair said that part of the losses at the grill could be explained by the loss of foot traffic due to the pool being unheated for 5 months. He spoke of Community Day events including a bounce house, evening DJ and – weather permitting – an outdoor movie, “Troll.” He also reminded that Comedy Night VII will be held Saturday, June17th featuring international comedy star Maureen Langan and the return of the very popular Tommy Gooch. Tickets ($13 advance, $15 door} are currently available in the Community Center and Admin Office. He closed by saying a date needs to be set for Cleanup Day.
Maintenance Chairperson Ken Shuey suggested an email blast be sent out explaining the buoys used to mark off forbidden waters containing invasive weeds on Mountaintop Lake. He also said that rules be drawn up regarding decorating the Bingo Room to avoid damaging walls and ceiling. He said that reusable stencils could be purchased to stripe basketball and tennis courts at a fraction of the price of hiring a vendor to do the work. He also reported that 3 unpaved roads – Bowstring, Sioux and Gap View – are not on the new paving list.
Real Estate Chairperson Jake Bower said the committee will meet at 10am, 5/27 in the admin office. He said a meeting for landlords is being planned for Saturday, June 10th at 10:30am in the Bingo Room.
Under old business, a proposal by a member/landlord to spruce up the sliver of land between Strawberry Landing and Mountaintop Lake was removed from the table because the member did not attend the meeting to detail the proposal. Also under old business, President Diane Caldwell outlined the board’s plan to sponsor a general scholarship rather than favor one deceased member over others. The scholarship would be awarded as in the memory of all deceased members. The special 5-year Paul Capozzoli Memorial Scholarship previously approved and with 4 more years to run will be unaffected.
Public Comments: John Palmisano thanked the board for the decision to decide the fate of the grill by establishing criteria that must be met in 90 days. Dennis Green expressed concern about whether the CC parking lot is adequately lit at night. Connie Simpson stated that scholarships should go to Emerald Lakes members.
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
Board President Diane Caldwell opened the meeting with her President’s Message. She spoke about the coming season and the preparations underway including preparing to open the outdoor pool and the beaches. She reported that new CC Manager Heather is doing well. She went on to say that continuing to progress will be impossible on the current association income level. A dues increase will be necessary in the near future. A check of the monthly financials and the annual budget make clear that we cannot operate the community successfully at the current dues level.
Treasurer Stefania Johnson underscored the president’s comments on dues. Cash on hand is at a very dangerous $23.5 K. Dues collection for fiscal 2017/18 is off to a slow start due to a late mailing of the dues statement. A little over $100K was moved from investments to operations, though this money was already designated as operation funds. One bright spot is delinquency collections which are up by almost $11k over last year ($251K vs $240K), while last year was a record setter for delinquency collections, so it looks like a 3rd record-setting year in a row. The net cost of the bar & grill has been $33,694 year-to-date. We are awaiting inventory figures that may ameliorate some of this cost, but careful attention will be paid to lowering the grill cost. The bar revenue consistently exceeds costs.
Manager Judy Kennedy announced that this would be her last meeting and that her place would be taken by one Laura Jones, a highly qualified professional at community management. Kennedy thanked the board and the membership for the support she has received during her three years here and drew applause from the assemblage for her service. The new manager is expected to continue walk-in Wednesday, but all hours of operation will be reviewed, administration, pools and community center. The updated rules and regulations have been approved and a new, complete Rules and Regulations document will soon be available. The auditor began the annual audit the previous Tuesday. There is heat in the pool, the temperature in around 82 degrees and phase 1 and 2 of the upgrade have been completed. Approval on phases 3 and 4 is pending. Mold on the pool room ceiling, roof repair, painting and associated tasks are awaiting proposal approval and the cupola also needs repair. A new contract by Waste Management will offer an 8% discount with final numbers to be available soon. An insurance payment on the damaged truck has been received and the truck will be repaired. The outdoor pool building housing the bathrooms has issues at the base due to water runoff and management is seeking repair bids. A French drain will be added to prevent future damage of this type. The Breakfast with the Bunny event was a huge success and Heather did a stand up job.
Joe Gallagher, our current lake manager, reported that the invasive cabomba (or fanwort) now covers approximately 5 acres. Thanks to a grant he obtained, cost will be a fraction of what it could have been. He expects to be able to completely rid Mountaintop Lake of the weed and cautions boaters to thoroughly wash their boats when moving from one lake to another. Treatment will begin soon and fish stocking will be suspended until it is completed. Lower Deer Lake dropped a foot due to a warm summer and could not be treated without killing the fish. Monthly tests show the overall health of our lakes is good.
During Directors’ Comments Buz Whelan reported that the originally approved Paul Capozolli Memorial Scholarship, originally approved at $200 had swelled to $500 due to personal contributions by board members. At noon on Saturday, May 13th a brief presentation ceremony followed by a covered dish luncheon will be held. Friends of Paul who wish to join in celebrating his memory are encouraged to sign up to bring a covered dish to the luncheon. Whether you were a personal friend of Paul’s or not, you are encouraged to attend.
Reporting for the Events Committee Betty Goodline stated that over 100 breakfasts were served at Breakfast with the Bunny. The evening of May 13th will feature a Mother’s Day special menu at the community center bar and grill. On Saturday, May 27th there will be a Community Day celebration in and around the community center. Food and games will be featured in this celebration of Emerald Lakes commencing at 12noon. June 10th will be a Father’s Day celebration with details to be announced. On Saturday, June 17th Comedy Night VII will be held in the community center. This will see the return of popular Tommy Gooch and a very special appearance by international comedy star Maureen Langan. Tickets are $13 in advance and $15 at the door if any are left. Those interested are cautioned to get their tickets as soon as possible as seating is limited and the show is expected to be a sellout. They are on sale at the CC and admin office at this writing.
Reporting for the Maintenance Committee, Ken Shuey reiterated a request that signage of rules be posted at boat launches. Staff should be trained in the proper maintenance of vehicles to extend their useful lives. On storm response focus should be on providing safety. Focus should be on clearing drains and stand pipes so emergency vehicles can pass before snow removal to the CC roof and parking lot. He then requested that a different liaison be provided to the committee.
F&P Chair Earl Frank recommended that information on the coming dues increase request be publicized. He said that while the bar consistently makes money the grill is a disaster and if costs cannot be controlled consideration to closing it should be made.
Louise Leon spoke for the Adult Water Aerobics Club asking that hours be changed from afternoon to midday at the indoor pool and 11am at the outdoor pool when it is open. These are exclusive use requests.
Don Atkiss reported that a garden for migrating butterflies has been established across from the parking lot on Gap View Drive overlooking Mountaintop Lake. (This is the old ski slope) Two loads of bog dirt have been laid down and the area defined by an arrangement of rocks. Anyone wishing to establish their own garden for the Monarchs can receive a kit including plants and seeds for a $15 donation. There will be a workshop at 10am in the community center on Saturday, May 13th for interested folks. It will run around a half hour.
Eric Bergstrom of the Fishing Club announced there will be a fishing rodeo at Pine Tree Lake near the beach area on Saturday, June 24th.
It was announced that just 5 people reviewed the annual budget during the 30 day review period. It was also posted on the ELA website, though no comments were received. A motion to give the budget final approval was passed unanimously.
During Public Comments member Joe Olall questioned the transfer of funds. He was reminded that these funds were already designated as operations. He also asked about the dehumidification project earlier reported on. A new company is being sought to finish the project and the previous vendor is being investigated by the county district attorney. Olall asked about what was being done to control costs in the bar and grill. We have a new manager that is expected to better control inventory and staffing.
There was further discussion on the bar and grill with most expressing dismay at the costs.
In final remarks President Diane Caldwell suggested interested members draw up a list of ‘wants’ that the board could consider, including the expected costs of such wants. She also stated that it has been 6 years since ELA has had a dues increase.
by Kathy Leslie Whelan
While there were quite a few items discussed at the March open meeting, three topics seemed to dominate the session: snow removal, EL finances and the need for a dues increase and the ongoing project to upgrade the heating and ventilation systems of the Community Center, including that project’s effect on pool temperature
President Caldwell called for discussion on the snow removal during the recent storm to start the meeting. She pointed out that we had roughly 30 inches of snowfall and that whatever flaws occurred during plowing, that amount will always pose problems for plows. She called on Public Safety Chief Darryl Gamble to describe the efforts made before, during and immediately following the storm. Gamble said that he set up a command center at the administration office beginning at 10pm Monday night, shortly before the first flakes fell. By the very early morning hours of Tuesday enough snow had fallen to begin sending the plows out. From that time on, plowing continued around the clock until 5:30am Friday. During that time there were equipment breakdowns, repairs made and trucks returned to service and four separate outside companies brought in with heavier equipment than EL trucks because the snow had gotten so deep and so heavy that EL equipment alone couldn’t handle certain tasks. One difficulty, that of members not realizing public safety was operating 24/7, will be corrected. Currently, the recorded menu for reaching particular parties at the office lists option 2 (press 2) as for compactor hours, option 3 for office personnel and option 4 for public safety. It had become apparent that many callers pressed 3, got a recording that the mailbox was full and hung up thinking no one was there. Had they listened for the next choice, option 4 would have connected them to public safety or to the answering service which would have gotten them a return call. Manager Judy Kennedy will arrange for public safety to be moved up to option 2 which is the first choice. Chief Gamble also explained that while he doesn’t follow our Facebook page, others made him aware of complaints that time and effort was wasted plowing the Community Center lot. He explained that he wanted it to be ready to receive members should a widespread power outage occur. He also explained that the heavy snow had to be removed from the roof to prevent a roof collapse. Following Chief Gamble’s presentation and again during public comments, a number of members complained of hardships endured because of having to wait for their street to be plowed.
After Treasurer Stefania Johnson gave a somewhat gloomy picture of current EL finances a discussion on dues ensued. Johnson was emphatic in the need for an increase. Tying that to the snow removal discussion, she listed various needs, including that of our aging equipment and the fact that we need two new vehicles at a minimum, the projected cost about $120K. Finance and Planning Chairperson Earl Frank warned that the audit will show that we carried a negative balance in the association checking account for a period of time and that we do not have enough annual revenue to properly operate the association. Director Bob Lauri said that we should close the Community Center for two years (or more). This would save as much as $500K. Member Anthony Harsey (sp?) later stated that when he went for a home improvement loan the bank officer asked if the Community Center was open or closed. When he answered that it was open, the officer raised the appraised value of his home by 10%. Director Whelan added that he had a similar experience having his home loan interest lowered from 9.9% to 3.9% based on upping his appraised value. Former Director and President Dan Glasgow added that maintenance problems including snow removal are the fault of the membership for not voting in more realistic annual dues. Director Whelan pointed out that there have been negative stories in the Pocono Record involving intra-association disputes in Pine Ridge, Willow Creek and Stillwater Civic Association, all centered on financial shortfalls. These communities have in common with each other – and Emerald Lakes – the fact that dues amounts are voted on by the membership. In more solvent and successful communities such as Lake Naomi, Arrowhead Lake, Hemlock Farms and the Hideout, dues are set by the board of directors. The problem with a system like ours is that those people with the least understanding of what it takes to run the community are the ones who set the revenue stream. Whelan added that we have been living on reduced services and deferred maintenance for at least the last 10 years, naming a number of services that have been reduced or eliminated entirely over that time. Director Al Leslie, a nine-year veteran of the board, noted that when a member gains knowledge about association finances and operations he or she often undergoes a change of attitude. He cited that Dan Glasgow ran for the board on a platform of austerity and was against any dues increase, then as he served on the board changed his opinion 180 degrees.
A discussion of the proposed budget showed some disagreement among board members as well as between the board and the Finance and Planning Committee. A budget resolution meeting to finalize the budget will be held Wednesday evening. The board wants a finalized budget available for review and comment by members for 30 days prior to its official adoption at the April open meeting. By law, the budget must be approved by the beginning of the fiscal year which is May 1.
Summarizing discussion on the upgrade of the CC HVAC system, Judy Kennedy predicted that the pool would be heated “by the end of next week.” This was a reference to the temporary fix that would allow pool use until the next phases of the upgrade were accomplished.
Speaking for the Events Committee Chairperson Dan Glasgow thanked all who made the St. Patrick’s Day celebration a success, including a performance by the Step dancing Gallagher Girls. He also drew laughter at a sly reference to the Adult Bingo held on March 4th. He spoke of Breakfast with the Bunny to be held Easter Saturday. He said that Comedy Night VII has been moved to Saturday, June 17th from May 6th due to headliner Maureen Langan’s one woman show being extended through May. The show will be themed to coincide with Father’s Day which is the next day. There also will be a special Father’s Day breakfast on Saturday morning of June 17th, so the entire day will be a celebration of dads.
Director Gilda Spiotta reported that the Emerald News is currently gathering articles for an April publication.
Don Atkiss reported that Project Elmway, meant to facilitate the migration of Monarch butterflies is moving forward and those interested in providing a site can obtain necessary supplies, including young milkweed plants (the insects’ favorite food) for a $15 donation. He pointed out that milkweed is poisonous to all animals and insects except the Monarchs, and that consuming them provides a level of protection against predatory birds. The main Monarch Waystation garden will be established and maintained at the overlook of Mountaintop Lake across from the bus stop/parking lot on Gap View Drive. An informational meeting will be held on Saturday, May 13 at 10am in the Community Center. A complete plan will be laid out in the next edition of the Emerald News.
Reporter’s Note: I remind the reader that this is an unofficial description of the highlights of the meeting. It is not intended as a substitute for official minutes which can be obtained at the Administration office. The information here is from hand written notes as recording is not allowed. I do the best I can.
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
President Diane Caldwell used her President’s Message to speak on various aspects of social media. She reminded the gallery that the unofficial Facebook page and the Emerald Lakes Free Press are not sanctioned by the Emerald Lakes Board of Directors. Any complaints or calls for action should be made directly to management or the board. This can be accomplished several ways. Members may go to the official website at elainc.com and use the “Address the Board” form. They may also post on that site. They may go to the Admin Office on Wednesdays at 1:30pm (Walk-in Wednesday) to meet with On-site Manager Judy Kennedy or send a letter or email to her. Ms. Caldwell went on to caution members about what they post, not only because of any potential legal liability, but also because a careless or harsh post could be hurtful to others. She mentioned, too, that often information posted is inaccurate and put there by third parties who did not directly witness or participate in an event or occurrence they are describing. It was pointed out that this regular report is not to be taken as an official record of the meeting and that only official minutes could be taken that way. (This reporter concurs)
Treasurer Stefania Johnson began her report by saying she is reporting on the year-to-date, rather than monthly numbers. We currently have about $193K in operating funds. We have $413.8K in reserves and $93.4K in New Capital reserves. Dues collection at $1,174,480 ytd and is down by about $61.6K over the same period last year. Delinquency collections are $221K so far. As to the cost centers, Administration is approximately $56K over budget ytd, Maintenance is $37K over budget, Public Safety is $6.5K under budget and the Community Center is $2K under budget. The cost of operation for the bar and grill so far this year is $25.8K, most of the loss being in the grill operation.
During the Manager’s Report, Judy Kennedy touched on a number of topics. Among them, that the board was scheduled to meet with the association financial advisor that afternoon regarding parameters for the investment account. She also said that SOPs for Public Safety were completed. Maintenance and Community Center SOPs would be submitted to the board when completed. Personnel policy is currently being revised and will be given to the board when completed.
The manager also reported that our attorney is working on getting our deposit monies back from Button Oil and Propane since they have withdrawn from the CC HVAC upgrade project. She also said a temporary fix at cost of $4,900 would be put in place. To a later question from a member she said she hoped that this much would be done within approximately 30 days allowing the pool to be heated. Further contracts on work to complete the project have not been signed as of yet.
On road maintenance, Kennedy reported that potholes are being filled and signage restored. Road ban signs will be posted before a complete thaw, which will render the road beds vulnerable to collapse due to a soggy, unstable base. Vehicles over a specified tonnage will be banned from all paved roads.
An offer from a company called Aqua Right to host an informal session with members on water use and safety in drinking, cooking and bathing will be folded into a larger program to be organized by the Events Committee. A request by member Louise Leon to distribute materials supporting the Clymer Library was discussed. Later in the meeting the board approved the distribution in the community center. A request for a fund-raising event to benefit the library was put off for further review.
During Directors’ Comments, Buz Whelan said that the President’s Message was timely, and for him, personal. He said that as she cautioned that posts could come back to haunt you, that has happened to him. He said that he posted his disappointment in the quality of the food at a recent event, and that while he also praised the work of the Events Committee in that post, he now regretted his public candor. He said that he had an extended conversation with Events Committee member Betty Goodline who pointed out to him that his comments could be generalized by members as an overall dissatisfaction with the event and therefore could make promoting future events more difficult. He said he supports the work of the committee and recognizes the hard, unselfish work they do, often spending their own money to buy supplies. He quoted Director Bob Lauri who once said that the Community Center was the hub that gave us a sense of community rather than a being just bunch of people living in the same area. The Events Committee is the central agent in bringing people into the center. He also mentioned that in planning a future comedy show, he went to the Events Committee and they were most gracious in receiving him and offering assistance in promotion. Whelan summed up by saying he will be at the St. Patrick’s Day event on Saturday, March 18th and he hoped many members would join in the fun.
Ken Shuey, Maintenance Committee chairperson reminded management and the board that signs should be placed at all boat launch sites warning of the potential spread of invasive plant species if boats were moved from lake to lake without some cleansing. It was Ken’s question about what was being done in that area that prompted President Caldwell to inform him that a plan was in place and that normal lake maintenance and the removal of cabomba would only cost about $1,000 more than normal maintenance alone because Joe Gallagher had gotten a grant that would pay for the expensive chemical needed to eliminate the plant. Real Estate Chairperson Jake Bower said efforts are underway to encourage more rentals. New policy and procedures are in place and swipe cards for renters will soon be available. Rules and Regs Chairperson Bob Leon suggested that now that we have adopted the recommended changes a clearly defined and speedy process be developed for any future changes. He said that this would allow changes to be made quickly as the need is recognized. Speaking for the Events Committee, Jim Goodline enumerated scheduled upcoming events including Adult Bingo on Saturday night March 4th. He also reported that there would be a St. Patrick’s Day celebration on Saturday, March 18th, with a special menu serving at normal meal times and the Gallagher Dancers at 8pm. Breakfast with the Bunny will be on Saturday April 15th from 9 to 11am with the Easter Egg hunt scheduled for 10am. He also said that Comedy Night VII would be held May 6th with Buz Whelan hosting, Tommy Gooch returning and international and tv comic Maureen Langan headlining. More details as they become available.
Under Old Business, the board approved the update of the Committee Procedures Manual. They also approved the wording of the criteria for the Paul Capozolli Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship, in the amount of $200, will be awarded for five consecutive years to a graduating senior from Pocono Mountain West High School. The recipient must have an expectation of attending college and have performed some outstanding community service, for which Mr. Capozolli was known.
It was reported that the Emerald News will be an in-house project and the first issue is expected in late April. The 70 properties that were sent to the abstract company for research on their history (to determine if they are part of Emerald Lakes) have not yet been reported on. Judy Kennedy will follow up.
Under New Business the board has selected the William Owen Company as its new auditor. The board unanimously voted to approve a one-year contract. The lake management proposal was accepted and the Monarch butterfly project is moving forward and will not cost the association any money.
Editor’s Note: This article is a summary of the open meeting. It is not meant to be confused with the minutes, which are the official record. I take handwritten notes during the meeting and report what I think is the most significant information. I welcome any corrections or additions from principals who attended the meeting. Kathy Leslie-Whelan.
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
After the traditional Pledge of Allegiance, President Diane Caldwell gave her message, noting that she expected 2017 to be a better year than 2016. She said that road repair and repaving would continue. Of our 4 trucks, 2 are old and need frequent repair. One truck is over 20 years old and should be retired. She also said that the expectations of the community exceed what we can afford to do. She pointed to the fact that we have not had a dues increase since 2011 and that the Treasurer will work with F&P Chairman Earl Frank to produce a list of needs for a dues increase. She went on to cite some of the major projects completed or underway. She expressed sadness that while the staff does the best they can with what resources they have, it is just not enough and more money is needed.
Treasurer’s Report: Treasurer Stefania Johnson reported that dues collection is below last year, year-to-date, by slightly over $90k but that delinquency collections are up by $88K over the same period last year. Reserves are at $379K and New Capital Reserves are at $86K. Administration is about $52K over budget, Public Safety about $5.6K under budget, Maintenance almost $18K over budget and the Community Center only slightly over budget. Figuring cost vs revenue, the Grill cost about $3K to operate in December. She closed by echoing the president’s comments that a dues increase is needed.
Manager’s Report: Manager Judy Kennedy reminded that complaints should be communicated directly to staff at the Admin Office or on the official web site, and not on Facebook which is not an official part of Emerald Lakes. The board will meet with Northeast Financial on Feb. 25th to discuss investment policy. The SOPs for Maintenance and Community Center are being revised. The Public Safety SOP is completed.
Information on 70 properties in question has been sent to the abstract company doing the research. Three accounting firms will be interviewed on Saturday February 18th to determine who will be awarded the auditing contract. Later that day Joe Gallagher will meet with the board to discuss lake maintenance and the invasive weed problem. On the monarch butterfly project, Don Atkiss held a meeting on January 14th and will hold another in March, date tbd.
Under the heading of general maintenance, GOE has corrected the dam reports. Brad Jones reported on the dehumidification project in the CC. The contractor awarded the contract (Button Oil) has withdrawn. A temporary ventilation system will be rigged to allow the pool to be heated and this should be done by the middle of February. The shed designated for the Events Committee has been delivered. Committee members will be building shelving and moving events materials to the shed for storage. Equipment has been winterized, including spreaders, and materials such as gravel and salt continue to be ordered. The maintenance head has been terminated and management will fulfill that role until a new hire is added.
Directors’ Comments: Director Buz Whelan began by thanking the board for the very thoughtful basket of goodies they sent after the loss of his brother. He said the basket contained at least a dozen items such as fancy crackers and cookies, cheese straws, and excellent tinned creamy cheese, smoked salmon, candies and a bottle each of red and white wine. He held up a small scissors that came in the package to cut open the various envelopes containing the treats. He described the basket as very classy and wanted to publicly thank his fellow directors.
Whelan then turned to an email sent by the board secretary to PP&L. He read the opening line, “I live in Emerald Lakes and am on the Board for the Association,” and the final sentence, “I am forwarding a copy of this to the full Board and will also advise them of your response.” In between these sentences was expressed concern for the way the company was stringing the wires. Whelan said he was disturbed by the fact that this was not first cleared with the rest of the board and further distressed that the board president had not followed up with a statement of policy on communicating without outside entities as a board member without board approval. Both the secretary and president objected to Whelan’s comments saying she did not clearly state she was speaking for the board. Whelan called this immaterial since merely stating her position and the fact that she would follow up with the board clearly implied board involvement. Ms. Spiotta also pointed out that she sent the email from her personal account and not the one she uses for board communication, but Whelan said this was irrelevant since PP&L had no knowledge of her accounts. The matter was left unresolved.
Whelan next complained about the latest edition of the Emerald News, calling it an embarrassment. He pointed out that the pictures of staff on the front page had no captions. He asked no one in particular if they had ever seen a picture of people in any publication that did not have a caption that read, “Pictured left to right are…” He said this was basic newspaper procedure and you did not have to be an editor to know this. He then went on about the choice of putting the article about the invasive lake weeds on page 5 instead of page one since this is both an important and relevant concern in a lake-based community. He said trying to hide bad news was wrong. President Caldwell objected to Whelan’s characterization saying that this was a holiday issue and the front page should be in that spirit. Whelan called this a distinction without a difference since, whatever the reason, the choice was still a poor one. When Whelan said he was just getting started and held up a long list of what he said were mistakes in the paper, Caldwell said we would talk about all that when the agenda item regarding the paper came up.
Committee Reports: Speaking for Finance and Planning Chairman Earl Frank emphasized that we have a cash flow problem and that a dues increase was necessary. He said he will be getting with Brad (Jones of Preferred Management) to begin the budget process.
The President, as co-liaison to Real Estate reported that rental fees brought in $70K for the most recent year. They are asking for a budget of $7K to cover costs of printing, promotion and staff time. There is a landlord meeting 4/22 with an eye to getting more landlords into compliance.
Rules and Regs: the updated document was ready for approval. The directors voted unanimously to approve the changes and additions.
Committee Procedures: Director Whelan passed out an updated version prepared by he and Treasurer Stefania Johnson. The directors will familiarize themselves with the changes in time for the next workshop.
Paul Capozzoli Memorial Scholarship: Whelan passed out a paper with the criteria for the scholarship. There were 3; that applicant have above average scholastic record in the opinion of faculty, that applicant has an expectation of attending college (these first two were described as ‘gatekeepers’) and as the determining criterion that applicant must have demonstrated altruistic behavior by contributing to the betterment of his/her community through service that was not remunerated. Secretary Gilda Spiotta suggested that applicants should be graduating seniors, a suggestion Whelan agreed with. In response to a question of eligibility, Whelan said it should not be confined to only EL residents. The board consensus was to agree.
Note: Other agenda items in this section were covered during the Manager’s Report and by Brad Jones reporting on the HVAC situation
ELA Newspaper: Whelan again criticized the paper saying that virtually all the errors and misjudgments were the fault of ELA not the Journal beginning with the fact that no Publication schedule had ever been set up. He stated that when he was editor the paper was published on the Friday after the first Monday every month and this was accomplished by a meeting with Journal personnel and setting a schedule together. This held for 2 years during Whelan’s term as editor and for 2 more under Lola Lauri. In any case the board voted to sever the relationship with the Isenbergs/Journal and self-publish. President Caldwell said that with advertising revenue the paper would pay for itself. Directors Whelan and Leon dissented, saying that it was doubtful enough advertising revenue could be raised to pay for the paper.
Monarch Butterfly update: A meeting was held Jan 14th and a number of people have expressed interest in participating. Another meeting will be held in March. The plants necessary to attract the bugs will be supplied (in the form of seeds) and maintenance is low to non-existent.
Rules and Regs: as previously noted the board unanimously approved the changes.
New members were approved and welcomed by consensus.
Public Comments: (highlights) Linda Shuey asked that missing stop sign at Gap View (Director Johnson added Cedar) be replaced. She also asked why the Real Estate Committee needed a budget. Whelan, Caldwell and Jones each partially answered that cost of print materials, staff time and other ancillary costs be properly cited as Real Estate Committee costs. This would be about 10% of monies raised by the program. Martin Van Sise repeated his suggestion originally made 5 years previous, saying if his advice had been taken then we would have over a million dollars in reserves. Kathy Leslie-Whelan asked Secretary Gilda Spiotta for clarification of her claim that she consulted with an attorney before writing the PPL letter. Whelan wanted to know if it was a New Jersey or Pennsylvania based attorney. Spiotta responded by saying, “I choose not to respond.” A member identified as Igor asked why it took so long for ELA to realize the HVAC installation wasn’t working. He also suggested that we could make money if we had a dumpster for furniture and appliances and charged for their disposal. Former compactor attendant Cookie Lietwinski stated that people did not cooperate in the past, dropping furniture and appliances without paying and at locations all around the compactor area.
Reporter’s Note: During the meeting I was admonished by President Caldwell to ‘get it right” meaning the details of the meeting. I can only say that I do my best, but that since I can’t record the meeting I must rely on hand written notes. If I make a mistake, if any principal at the meeting feels I got their contribution wrong, they are invited to correct the record in the comments below.-Kathy Leslie-Whelan
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
President Diane Caldwell opened the meeting with an upbeat President’s Message. Taking a ‘where does the time go’ approach, she briefly enumerated the accomplishments of the year. New road paving, the first since 2006, general road maintenance and more. She especially thanked the Events Committee, and then cited the work of Betty Goodline, Lola Lauri and CC manager Karina D’Angelo for their work in decorating the community center for the holidays. She said the board would continue to move forward, finishing the many projects underway to improve the community. She also expressed condolences on the death of Director Buz Whelan’s brother and wished that Bob Lauri a speedy and full recovery. She wished all health, happiness and prosperity in the new year and concluded with season’s greeting, a happy holiday and happy New Year to all.
Treasurer’s Report: In summary, Treasurer Stefania Johnson reported that while dues are down $53K over the same period last year, delinquent collections are up $91K. Reserves are at $416K, operating fund at $344K. All departments (Administration, Maintenance, Public Safety and Community Center) are near or under budget, though the center is about $5K over budget at the current time. The unusually high cost of operation for the Bar & Grill for September of $5K plus was reduced to approximately $1.6K in October. A detailed inventory being currently prepared may also reduce the number for September.
Management Report: After wishing all a joyous holiday season, Manager Judy Kennedy reminded members that complaints and concerns should be addressed through proper channels rather than on the unofficial Facebook page. Members may contact the administration office or use the official ‘address the board’ option on the ELA website.
Northeast Financial would like to meet with the board to go over risk tolerance and general investment policy for the association’s investment account.
Completed SOPs were distributed to the board at the 12/1 workshop.
Updates from the attorney on the status of delinquent accounts requiring legal action. The abstract company will provide status updates on the properties being researched.
Auditor selection – 3 firms are being scheduled for interview. Director Buz Whelan pointed out that Zavada, our auditor for 20 years, was not among them and because of past good service should be included. Kennedy said she would contact them. Also, Joe Gallagher is preparing a protocol to deal with the invasive plant fanwort and is looking at the possibility of a grant. A full report is expected for the January open meeting. Don Atkiss is going to report on the monarch butterfly project and wants to have planning sessions in January and March in preparation for a workshop by mid-May.
Under general maintenance, GOE had submitted revised, corrected reports on the dams. The dehumidification system project is proceeding and a concrete pad for the unit will be poured soon. Pocono Spray Patch started working on the approved areas. Line Striping had been completed on 5 miles of roadway. Permits have been secured and the shed to store Events Committee materials will be scheduled for delivery. Kramer Sheds is the vendor. Vehicles and equipment have been prepared for winter and materials have been ordered. Toys for Tots donations were accepted at Admin office and CC until 12/18. Donations for AWSOM, the animal shelter will be accepted until 12/31.
Directors’ Comments: Bob Leon suggested that we have a standard procedure for setting up standard procedures, so that changes would be made in the same way every time. He also suggested a weekly email blast containing all necessary notifications.
Committee Reports: Dan Glasgow, Events Committee, spoke on the tree decorating event and Storytime with Santa. Also there will be a New Year’s party and interested people should sign up. He also suggested that the bar and grill be open for parents during children’s events. He asked that the possibility of a group baby sitter for children of members attending adult events be explored. Ken Shuey, Mainenance Committee chair, wants better landscaping to remove obscuring vegetation in front of entrance signs. Reminded that lake maintenance needed to be done rapidly, and if any other vendors were looked at it should be done forthwith. He stated that cold patch of potholes was working well. Committee liaison Director Whelan added that a permanent replacement for road and bridge advisor Fred Spot be named. Also the pothole hotline should be called the ‘road hazard hotline’ and should be publicized and monitored.
Public Comments: Linda Shuey, repeatedly emphasizing that she was speaking only for herself, said that the process of approving Rule and Regulation changes needed to be improved. Bill Folger suggested that waste slag be used as filler/base on dirt roads and topped with tar and chip. He suggested that haulers moving this type of waste be contacted for possible drop off here. Lola Lauri suggested that the outdoor smoking area at the CC be enclosed. Currently smokers prop open the self-locking exit door so they could easily return, thus allowing much heat to escape.
Editor’s Note: I regret that personal issues interfered with the timely reporting of this meeting. -Kathy Leslie-Whelan
by Kathleen Leslie-Whelan
President Diane Caldwell opened the meeting with her President’s Message. She talked about doing the right thing and about knowing right from wrong. She said that people looking back might agree or disagree about the past, but we can’t live in the past. She said we must look forward to the present and that no one is promised the future. She said that improvements that were promised are now happening. She then went on to say that the performance of the Events Committee has been phenomenal and while some dwell on the negative, we offer fun times, improvements and a better way to live. She stated that the board wanted to give you the most bang for your buck and she hopes we continue on this amazing path. For that, we need to be united, not divided. She continued that the community has great things to offer and that former board members know that it is not easy to be on the board, that she has to make decisions, not have them made for her.
Treasurer’s Report: Vice President Al Leslie filled in for Treasurer Stefania Johnson who had been called to a family emergency. He reported that dues collection year to date are $798K, down 54K from the same period last year. He also reported that delinquent collections are almost $159K. Administration is $39K over budget, but discounting collections expenses reduce that figure to approximately $12K. Maintenance is less than $2K over budget and Public Safety is $7.5K under budget. The Community Center as a whole is $1K over budget, but the Bar & Grill have had a $5k cost of operation for the last month alone. He called for a special meeting to examine and discuss this situation. Finally, Al reported that the transfer of $53K from the Contingency Fund to the Reserves had been completed.
Management Report: On-site Manger Judy Kennedy reminded that all complaints should be directed to her or to Address-the-Board on the official website. Social media is not the appropriate venue. She also reported that Northeast Financial will conduct an employee meeting on their 401(k) plans followed by an enrollment period and review. An abstract company will research 70 designated properties and information is being provided to the company. Three auditing companies will be interviewed by the board to select the auditor for the next period.
Lake maintenance: Joe Gallagher of Ecological Solutions is present to address the assemblage on future maintenance.
Boat storage removal: a notice has been sent that boats may remain on storage racks this year, but beginning next year, owners will have to remove boats by a date to be announced.
Under General Maintenance: GOE has corrected name changes on dam reports but the spillway repair has not yet been addressed. The boiler portion of the CC upgrade is complete. The dehumidification system is moving forward with Button as the GC. Complicated situation with exterior pad, Desertaire System and Falcon Engineering are all involved. According to Pete Fagan of Button, work will soon commence.
The road repaving and side stoning have been completed and sealing of selected areas has begun. A proposal of $4,888 to do 5 miles of line striping has been received and will be reviewed by the board. Winter preparation, including truck maintenance and ordering of materials is underway.
The winter hours of the CC begin November 1st and will be posted on the website and in email blast. Main changes are no B&G Wednesdays, but open 1pm to 7pm (or end of afternoon football game) on Sundays.
Directors’ Comments: Whelan asked that Sunday hours be left open to allow for ending of football game which might often come after 7. Agreed.
Whelan also restated his position that monies for construction of shed to house Events Committee materials be taken from New Capital Reserves rather than Events Committee budget.
Whelan also asked for special meeting to figure out why B&G has gone from just over $100 cost of operation in April 2016 to $5K in September with an average cost of about $3.5K for intervening months.
Events Committee Co-chair Betty Goodline reported that the Cancer Awareness events raised $2,788, a record. Spoke of upcoming Halloween events (now past) and breakfast Nov. 5th. She also reminded of the Gong Show, Nov. 12th.
Maintenance Committee: Chair Ken Shuey spoke of the necessity to clean boats when transferring from one lake to another to prevent transfer of algae, etc. He requested signage at boat ramps for this. Said better landscaping needs to be done at main entrance, Estates and CC where growth obscures some signage.
F&P: Chair Earl Frank expressed several concerns. How much reserve money will be used in total for CC refurbishment? Also, if there is no dues increase, what spending adjustments must be made? He also stated that he agreed with Director Whelan’s point that new construction, such as the shed, should be paid out of New Capital Reserves. He cautioned that reserves need to be replenished and wondered how the cost of the B&G could have gotten so high.
Real Estate: Board Liaison Diane Caldwell reported that short term rentals had produced almost $61K in revenue. Committee got list of rentals from county, so we have a more accurate count. Out of 79 short term rentals we have only had problems with 4. The new software package should help generate even more money by more efficient tracking, listing, etc. Also, the county is currently re-assessing.
Special guest: Joe Gallagher of Ecological Solutions addressed the assemblage in some detail regarding lake maintenance. In brief, he said he looks for balance between plant growth, oxygen content and fish population to have a healthy system. Approximately 30 to 40 percent plant growth is necessary for balance. We have an invasive species, fanwort (cabomba) in the Southeast cove of Mountaintop Lake. He is working on a plan to contain and then eradicate this plant.
Public Comments: Member Don Atkiss spoke on a plan to build gardens favorable to migrating Monarch butterflies. Milkweed gardens can be used to attract them. The Clymer Library and Lake Naomi already have established such. Don is making his own small plot on his property. It is inexpensive, low maintenance, and the butterflies are beautiful. He favors establishing a garden near the Mountaintop Lake boat launch. The benefits include attracting the Monarchs and hummingbirds, educational opportunities for kids, and marketing Emerald Lakes as an environmentally-friendly community.
Cookie Lietwinski asked about shredding of documents mentioned in the recent Emerald Lakes Free Press article. General agreement was reached that Al Leslie is a respected and well-liked member of the community. Whatever happened with the shredding is long past and probably best left there. President Caldwell, apparently growing into her role as a politician, cautioned that you cannot believe everything you read, referring to social media and the Free Press, and taking the path of all elected officials when facing negative press. And who can blame her? As she said in her opening remarks, “We can’t live in the past.”
by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order and following the traditional Pledge of Allegiance, President Diane Caldwell called for a moment of silence to honor recently deceased Paul Capozzoli, a former board secretary and highly respected community member.
President’s Comments: Caldwell remarked that it had been a tough week in the community with the death of Mr. Capozzoli and the drug-related shooting on Glade Drive. She cautioned that in light of local, national and world events, community members should stay vigilant. She then spoke “on a better note” referring to the changing foliage and said that positive efforts will continue to move things forward. Speaking generally of the board, she said that every member has a passion for something, citing Bob Lauri’s efforts on road maintenance as an example. She also spoke of the beautification of the association by the maintenance staff and her expectation that we will keep on this path. President Caldwell welcomed the two newest members of the board, the recently-elected Bob Leon and Gilda Spiotta.
Treasurer’s Report: New Treasurer Stefania Johnson reported on the year-to-date variances of the major cost centers. Administration was approximately $3,000 under budget when collection fees and doubtful accounts are discounted. Public Safety is approximately $6,600 under budget. Maintenance is over budget by $7,000 and the Community Center is about $2,000 over budget. Reporting on the bar and grill, the treasurer said the cost of operation was over $11K for the first 4 months of the fiscal year. She also reported that dues collection of $760K was down $16K vs. the same period last year. Delinquency collections of $127K were up approximately $66K over the previous year, an “amazing” increase in the treasurer’s view. Following a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report, Director Buz Whelan asked that the report be amended to include cash on hand figures. In round numbers, Operations is at $457K, down $56K from last year, Reserves are at $223K, down $149K from last year and New Capital was at $39K, down $64K from last year. Most of the decreases can be explained by the road repair, new paving and Community Center upgrades, according to Whelan. He then mentioned the $53K no longer in the Contingency Fund, and Ms. Johnson stated that this had been transferred into reserves to cover the extensive projects now nearing completion. The board then voted to accept the Treasurer’s Report, as amended.
Management Report: On-site Manager Judy Kennedy opened her remarks by noting management’s sadness at the passing of Paul Capozzoli. He was always ready to assist management and the board and conducted CPR classes, as well as arranging for the Red Cross Bloodmobile to post outside the Community Center periodically. She then went on to tell what is known about the shooting on Glade Drive, assuring members that it was not a random home invasion, as was first falsely reported by the victim, who was trying to conceal his involvement in drug dealing. She further stated that management cannot respond to complaints on social media, that they must be addressed directly to the manager or on the website under ‘address the board.’ Kennedy announced that the audit report is finalized. She also reported that the liquor license has been renewed, at a cost increase due to the passage of Act 39. An abstract company (Judy Picollo, Independent Title Searcher) has been selected to title search properties whose membership in Emerald Lakes is in doubt. The initial cost is a one-time fee of between $200 and $400 for a “master” tracing from the developer back 60 years, with a fee of $100 per searched property added on. She is in the process of setting up interviews with auditing companies to select the next auditor. On the lakes, lily pads will be reduced by treatment. A memo has been sent to Joe Gallagher of Eco Solutions. Also, the crack in the Pine Tree Lake spillway will cost about $6,000 to fix. Management is also seeking bids to line stripe the roads and crosswalk. On the GOE dam inspection reports, the mix-up in lake names has been corrected. The HVAC system being installed by Button in the CC will take quite a few weeks. Hallet will finish road maintenance by putting down roadside stones the week following. Paving on the tennis and basketball courts is finished. Coloring hasn’t been finalized and perhaps the tennis courts only need lines painted. Wrapping up, Kennedy said preparations for the winter season are underway, Code Enforcement is doing a great job, the outdoor pool has been closed and Winter hours for the CC and Admin Office are in the process of being set to go into effect Oct.1. AWA members are requesting earlier hours for the pool as DST ends and darkness falls sooner.
Directors’ Comments: Bob Leon brought up the problem of high humidity in the pool area. He pointed out that mold has already appeared on furnishings and pool apron areas. While it has been removed several times, it returns. Director Leon’s concern is that if the humidity continues eventually the mold will take hold in concealed areas, such as behind the drywall and would necessitate a very costly removal project such as the one two years prior. A lively discussion ensued, including an estimate that installation of the new dehumidification system will take 5 to 6 weeks. Finally, a motion to turn off the pool heat until the new system is up and running was passed unanimously.
Stefania Johnson offered a motion to lower the association flag to half-staff for 5 days to honor the memory of Paul Capozzoli. There followed a discussion on the legitimacy of that action. Director Buz Whelan stated that while there is flag etiquette that he, as a veteran, supports this motion completely, and it violates no laws, rules or regulations regarding the display of the flag. Rulings by the United States Supreme Court 50 years ago stated that flag display or abuse, no matter how repugnant to some, is a First Amendment issue, i. e., protected speech. Therefore the association is within its authority to decide when to lower the flag and for how long. Preferred Management representative Brad Jones suggested that a board resolution on flag policy be prepared for the next meeting. The board then voted unanimously to lower the flag for 5 days beginning 9/25/16 to honor Mr. Capozzoli.
Committee Reports: John Palmisano, filling in for new the new chairperson, Ken Shuey, reported for the Maintenance Committee. The committee recommends against using Pocono Spray Patch for small area road repair, as they are judged to be substandard by the members. They would also like to be given access to bids and contracts on any maintenance-related projects. They would like appropriate signage at crosswalks and new road line painting. (Later in the meeting board liaison Buz Whelan added that there should be side line painting on Bus Road due to the unfortunate positioning of a telephone pole within the paved area. Whelan also reported a suggestion that boulders be place at the end of Hunter Lane to prevent access by non-members to adjacent land-locked property.)
For the Events Committee, Chairman Dan Glasgow thanked CC Manager Karina D’Angelo and Chef Pam for their assistance before and during events. He said Biker Night had been successful, especially the music of Long Time Coming. October is Cancer Awareness Month and there are requests for donations for the Bingo event. He is looking to have the biggest and best Tricky Tray ever associated with the Cancer Awareness event. A party is being planned for Halloween, and Trunk or Treat will be held on Monday, October 31st in the CC parking lot.
Reporting for Finance and Planning Committee Earl Frank stated he had been re-elected chairperson and liaison Gilda Spiotta was serving as secretary, at least for the time being.
Unfinished Business: Northeast Financial has been selected to assist in managing association investments and employee 401(k) accounts.
New Business: Committee Goals and Objectives should be available for discussion by the next board workshop.
Resolution 88 was passed naming the new signors of checks. There was one ‘no’ vote by Director Bob Lauri who stated simply that he was objecting to the naming of VP Al Leslie based on the previous negative comments on his integrity by Diane Caldwell. (See Reporters Note at the end of this article)
Public Comments: Mary Kavanagh reported that the ceiling fans in the pool area are not working. Darren Johnson suggested that due to the recent crime event, herein discussed earlier, the CrimeWatch Committee should be resurrected. He also suggested a gun safety course be offered. Bill Folger asked that an email blast to the membership accompany any decision to lower the flag so that individual members who have their own flag poles, as he does, will be able to follow suit.
One humorous moment occurred at the end of the meeting. Apparently anxious to get on with her day, President Diane Caldwell exclaimed, “I make a motion to adjourn.” Director Buz Whelan said laughing, ” You’re the chair!” Everyone in the room burst out laughing, including Ms. Caldwell herself. Whelan then said, “Motion to adjourn,” and with that Caldwell banged her gavel.
Reporter’s Note: When questioned at the conclusion of the meeting about his comment about Leslie during the vote earlier, Director Lauri explained that Diane Caldwell had said 2 years previously that she did not trust Mr. Leslie.
Mr. Lauri was most likely referring to a workshop meeting of the board wherein Millie Bishop resigned as Treasurer after only 2 weeks, citing health concerns. When Al Leslie was suggested as a replacement due to his earlier term as treasurer, then-Secretary Diane Caldwell objected vigorously. It was at this time that many in the community were questioning Mr. Leslie’s role in the shredding of a huge cache of association documents, including his signature on the check to the shredding company, which cast serious doubt on his integrity. The reason for the shredding has never been made clear, and the precise extent of the document destruction is unknown. Neither has it ever been explained why the documents were not put on microfiche before destruction.
by Buz Whelan
I feel a deep sadness settling into my body as I come to grips with the fact that a very dear friend and all around wonderful person has passed away. But I’m not writing an obituary. I just want to tell you about my friend. And if you’re looking for objectivity, you won’t find it here. I loved Paul Capozzoli. As I write this, my eyes are filled with water. I miss the guy a lot. The thought that I’ll never again be able to joke around with him is hard to bear.
The most defining characteristic of Paul was his generosity. He was the most generous person I have ever known and in every way. He was generous with his time, with his effort and with his money. Any resource that Paul controlled was subject to being shared with anyone who needed it. Just ask for help and you got it. No hemming and hawing, no excuses, just “Yeah, whaddaya need?” I cannot tell the reader how many times I heard him utter what seemed to be his favorite phrase. “No problem.” That was Paul’s ‘yes.’
Among the quiet ways Paul helped others was his involvement with the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America. He kept in contact with scout leaders, especially Bob and Lola Lauri. When some boys couldn’t afford this or that program or piece of equipment, Paul was there. He would give the Lauris $500 every year to use in the most effective way they could choose. Paul couldn’t abide the fact that this or that scout couldn’t afford to go to camp with his fellow scouts. But that $500 was far from the limit of his sponsorships. He would cough up what was needed as needs arose. And like any true giver, only those with a need to know were aware. Never ever did he trade on his generosity. If you tried to talk about it or compliment him as I sometimes did, he would brush your comments aside and quickly change the subject.
Often when a daytime event was being held in or around the Emerald Lakes Community Center a Red Cross blood bank bus would appear. This was not magic or even coincidence; this was Paul arranging to take advantage of the presence of many potential donors. I was always one. After all the time and effort Paul put into making sure that bus was there it was the least I could do. Happily, many others felt the same. And this was reflective of Paul’s involvement with the Bloomfield (New Jersey) Emergency Squad with whom he proudly served for 25 years, attaining the rank of First Lieutenant. He brought skills learned and practiced there to Emerald Lakes, conducting CPR courses and issuing certifications. He was also active with the CrimeWatch committee. Not least of all, Paul donated an Automatic External Defibrillator which can be used here in a fraction of the time it would take for local EMT to arrive. We are all a little bit safer because of Paul.
If you asked Paul to do something, to perform a task you needed done, he was there for that as well. During a recent year the then-current board secretary was up for re-election and so couldn’t serve as Judge of Elections. I asked Paul if he would fill in as he had performed that task in previous years. His first response was a no, that he was done with all the ‘board stuff.’ I just kept looking at him. He said, “What?” I kept looking and said nothing. He then said. “Okay, okay. I’ll do it,” shaking his head and laughing. That was sooo Paul.
Paul and I were elected to the Emerald Lakes Board of Directors the same year, 2007. I didn’t know him or much about him, but we quickly bonded over our shared military service. We both served over 5 years, but at different times and in different services. I was an army vet, Paul, a proud marine. Once when I described him as an ex-marine in his presence he corrected me. With good humor and a twinkle in his eye he said, “Marine. There’s no such thing as an ex-marine.” During those 3 years together we grew closer and closer, sharing a mutual respect, mutual attitudes toward community service and pretty much the same evaluations of the people around us. I think when you share that last thing, that similar view of people, you feel a strong connection, and I believe we did.
Paul was a man of good humor. He enjoyed a good joke, and he genuinely liked people. Most people. But for all his generosity of spirit, he was nobody’s fool. I won’t sour this homage with specifics, but Paul could spot a phony, a poseur, quickly and wasn’t the least bit reluctant to call the individual to task. When his normally pleasant demeanor was interrupted by a flash of anger, it could be scary. But it was always a righteous anger in my view. He never blew up over petty squabbles, though he could show a bit of impatience if he felt disagreements went on too long. And he rarely engaged in anything you could call gossip.
So my good friend is gone. We always add ‘way too soon,’ but at the tender age of 58, it is so true this time. And so surprising, so unexpected. He appeared so fit, so trim. He was buried in his military uniform. Who can fit into a uniform they wore 34 years before? I am a somewhat gelatinous blob of nearly 74 years. If you asked people last year to bet on which of us would live longer there wouldn’t have been much money on me, yet here I am, writing about Paul. I’m told by his girlfriend Lena Ciervo that he was on regular medication, so much so that he had an alarm wake him at medication time. Yet other than Lena, no one knew. That was Paul. He wouldn’t want others to worry about him. And he was right. We would have.
After approval of the minutes from last month, Dan Glasgow reported that he has inspected the Community Center renovations and is pleased with the progress he has seen. He then turned the meeting to Buz Whelan with the treasurer’s report.
Whelan said that the big story is in collections. Our dues collections are $11k over the same period as last year, and our delinquent account collections are already $59.5k over the amount collected for all of last year, and there is still one month left to this year. This is a significant increase and due largely to the Board and the collections attorney using all possible means to extract payment from those account holders.
Judy Kennedy gave the manager’s report. She reported that the membership review has been completed and that 25 properties will be selected at random for the abstract company to examine deeds. Scalping will begin on Monday, April 27th at Glade and Clearview, and notifications will go out to members in the affected areas as the work continues. Maintenance is working on road patching every day, and they are hoping to catch up soon.
The Community Center is scheduled for a “soft” opening on May 23, with the Grand Opening celebration set for May 30th. All permits and inspections have been secured and work has resumed. The pool area and bingo room construction have entered the finishing stages, the saunas are being repaired and the cosmetic work has begun. Email blasts will resume as the work is completed.
Speaking for the Events Committee, Melanie Balzano reports that the CC Grand Opening will begin at 11 am with a ribbon cutting and a carnival theme. In the evening there will be dancing and dinner and activities for the children. The committee asked the Board to consider sending out postcards to all members announcing the Grand Opening. They also requested the purchase of magnets with the events calendar printed on them, to distribute to the membership.
Balzano continued, this time for Parent’s club and reported a small showing for the last meeting. She will hold one more meeting to see if there is enough interest to continue. She is hoping to gather enough interested families to be able to create an after-school program for the children of the community.
Lola Lauri reported that the furniture, paint and some equipment has been delivered to the Community Center and that the committee continues to work on the renovations. Connie Simpson stated that the Crimewatch group is unable to hold meetings until the CC reopens. Kennedy stated that she could find room in the schedule for a meeting at the Administration building. Earl Frank said that F&P is working on setting up a meeting with Edward Jones to discuss the community’s stock and bond holdings. He also said that the committee has discussed a recommendation to the Board to dedicate the transfer fees collected by the association to new paving of roads.
Speaking for the Real Estate committee, Diane Caldwell said they have recommendations for changes to our Rules and Regulations that include an increase in fines. They are also working on completing the list of landlords within the community and taking measures to make sure that all are paying registration fees for renting their homes. She stressed the need to balance the needs of landlords and fulltime residents to preserve safety and quality of life for all.
In New Business, the board approved a measure to authorize management to accept bids for the painting of the indoor pool room for up to $2,500. Six directors voted yes, and Diane Caldwell abstained from the vote because her husband’s company is one of the bidders in the process.
In a unanimous vote, the Board agreed to authorize the collections attorney to accept offers that re at least 80% of the amount owed from delinquent account holders without Board approval. These offers are often time sensitive and this measure will allow the lawyer to work quickly when necessary and appropriate.
Finally, the board unanimously approved the 2015/2016 budget.
Several members stated their dissatisfaction with the name choices given for the Community Center bar and grill. One member stated that the word “Joint” was a drug reference and inappropriate for the name. Another was unsure if we were naming the whole building or just the bar and grill. Kathy Leach asked if the “ugly” sign will be replaced when the name is decided upon.
Margaret Fitzgerald questioned why Ms. Caldwell abstained from the vote on the funds for the pool room bids. Ms. Caldwell explained that it would be a conflict for her to vote on a matter that involved her husband’s company. Fitzgerald opined that she believed that no bid should be accepted from Caldwell’s husband’s company. Buz Whelan interjected that it would be irresponsible for the Board to NOT accept the lowest bid, no matter who it comes from, and that this was common and acceptable business practice. Kathy Whelan stated that the attorneys and ethics committee of the Port Authority of New York deemed this practice acceptable as well. Linda Shuey stated that she believed that as long as there is a bid process, then this was handled just fine.
Fitzgerald then asked Judy Kennedy if the boiler and the HVAC systems would be in place for the CC opening. Kennedy said it would be done. Joseph Olall asked what adjustments were required from the inspectors. Kennedy replied that there needs to be an handicapped accessible walkway leading to the back of the pool, and some minor changes to the indoor work.
A member complained that she had not gotten proper notice of a violation charged to her property and said that the compliance officer was not following procedure. Kennedy directed her to the Appeals committee for discussion of this matter. This same member stated that there were needles left on Community property and that there was a significant drug problem in our community. She told the Board that she has called the police and has been told that she needs to contact our Public Safety as well. Ms. Kennedy said that members should not touch any materials that are dumped in the community, but should contact the office or Public Safety to remove them instead. She also assured everyone that the police have been involved in the matter, but that they would (obviously) not be informing us of what measures they are taking to address the problem.