by Kathy Leslie-Whelan
The meeting was called to order at 11:15 am, followed by the pledge of allegiance and board introductions.
Opening comments were made by Diane Caldwell, President. Caldwell read from Roberts Rules of Order and cautioned the membership that inappropriate language would not be tolerated. She stated that after meeting the new board would be going into a closed executive session. She announced that there were two open seats and that anyone running from the floor must register with the judge of elections. Caldwell reiterated her comments from her President’s message at the July open meeting. She stated that she met some good friends and members who have given of themselves. She further stated that she has seen the good, the bad and the ugly. (Editor’s note – in July open meeting this reporter noted that there was no comments for the ugly.)
The good is all of us. The bad is the challenges that we have i.e. falling infrastructure, roads. The ugly is the divide. She stated that it was disheartening that some only see what was done wrong and not recognize what was good.
Caldwell stated that there were challenges and something about integrity. She also stated that the board worked hard and the negative report card that was passed out at the front door was ugly, and she was critical of the negativity.
Caldwell thanked two board members, Bob Lauri and Buz Whelan, who decided not to run at this time.
Caldwell informed membership of major transitions. Judy Kennedy resigned as General Manager and was replaced by Laura Jones. Daryl Gamble was promoted to Chief of operations to keep things on track.
Caldwell stated that a wish list of items is just that. We have a dedicated group of people in community trying to accommodate others. Special events make adults and children happy. Other committees, such as Rules and Regulations, Real Estate and Finance and Planning, have volunteers that give up their time.
Caldwell ended her comments wishing everyone good health and that she will see us next year when she finishes out her term.
At this point in time Pat Galderisi asked if we had quorum and Caldwell stated yes.
Awards were given out as follows:
Steve Kavanagh – for Volunteer of the Year, presented by Buz Whelan. Penny Glassgow for Volunteer of Year, presented by Stephanie Johnson. Eileen Avrich was recognized for Lifetime Achievement, presented by Al Leslie.
Laura Jones was introduced and she stated she was happy to be here. Jones has been a property manager for 12 years, the last 8 at Penn Estates. She further stated that she was a candidate for this position back in 2013, but Preferred Management was hired. She decided to join them, so here she is today. Jones stated that she has driven on all roads in the community. She is a manager and not a miracle worker. Road work will be starting soon and we need a full road assessment. The Community Center needs work inside and out. Jones concluded her statement with that this is a great community, and she is glad to be here. She wants to make this a happy place to be here because it is the right thing to do.
George Hludzik was the first guest speaker to address the membership. Hludzik stated that we had a great fiscal year for collections of uncollected dues and that collections were up from last year. His firm collected close to $365K. Over the past 14 years over $3 million has been collected. Currently we have 22 counts filed in the county courts for members who are not current with dues. Hludzik further stated that last year he joined the Slusser Law firm and that 4 additional attorneys and a number of paralegal will be assisting with the collections of delinquencies. This firm will be identifying and removing all money that is on our books that is uncollectable. Uncollected monies could be from members that have died or moved out of state. Mr. Hludzik concluded with that he will continue to ensure that no delinquency is ignored. He looks forward to another banner year in collections.
Bill Owens, CPA opened up with our financial audit. Corporate reporting should be changed so that is more understandable. He favors a cash rather than accrual system for our revenue side. Our reserve reductions were due to roads, community center work and snow removal.
Owens explained the two resolutions:
Resolution # 1 Disposition of surplus funds. Currently the Association does not have surplus funds, but if we ever do, this resolution will allow our CPA to file our taxes in a way that is beneficial to the Association by taking certain tax breaks.
Resolution # 2 Apportionment of annual assessment. This resolution makes it clear to the IRS that the Association has authorized the board to split the dues assessment between the Operating and Capital budgets. Future invoices for annual dues of $1,000 will state $800 for operating and $200 for reserves. In addition, Owens answered a number of questions that were distributed at the front door.
- Is Association being audited by IRS? Not aware
- Is our current audit disclaimed or qualified? Unqualified
- What advice was given to Board through the Management Advisory Letter? Is this letter available to membership? – Board of Directors is already working on recommendations and it is up to Board as whether to release.
- In past fiscal years have there been any surplus funds and how were they handled? Cannot say since he was not our auditor at the time.
- In the past year what were the surplus funds? None
- What would be average refund from surplus funds? None
- Are surplus funds profits from rental income and not generated from over payments? Is the Association trying to hide profits from IRS? Is Association asking membership to sanction action? No on all counts.
- Regarding resolution # 1, do you intend to file form 1120 which allows an Association to defer taxes? No need, no tax consequences.
- Why is Association asking membership to permit Board to fund capital reserves when IRS prohibits this action? This rule deals with Condos.
- If membership chooses refund of their overpayment, how would it be handled? Complex issue. Funds would be better going toward capital since if it were to be distributed, members who didn’t pay their dues would receive a refund.
- If membership allowed Board to carryover surplus to next fiscal year, doesn’t this have an effect on being a pre-payment assessment? Will membership see a reduction in dues bill? Yes. It would show on statement
- How will Association prove that surplus funds are being carried over? Will we see if reflected on the assessment billing as a deduction? Not an issue this year.
- Must the Association ask the membership every year for their choice regarding surplus funds? No, it should not be necessary.
Pat Galderisi thanked Owens for being transparent.
(Editor’s note – Some questions above are not exactly how worded on hand out)
Stephania Johnson went on to Treasurer’s Report. Good news is that operations up from last year due to the collections of previously uncollected dues. Administration was over budget, Public Safety under budget, Maintenance over budget (due to storm) and Community Center under budget. Bar and Grill were over budget under CC.
Candidate speeches commenced at this point of the meeting. Three candidates spoke and the tallies will be reported at the end of this article. There were no candidates that ran from the floor.
While the votes were being tallied, questions that were submitted via index card and from the floor were addressed by Laura Jones.
One member asked if the Association would pay for car repairs since roads are in bad shape. Jones stated no, just like she will not be reimbursed if any damage to her car. Someone wanted to know about the financials and was told to look on website. One member requested that Saturday night bingo be moved so that the bingo room could be rented out. Another member inquired about the outside bathroom facility at the outdoor pool and what were the plans for replacing the structure. Jones stated that it depended on whether we have the money. Facility is still there since it houses all the filters, etc.
A question came up on a snow plan and will there be a person that will answer the phones. Jones stated that this was the biggest storm in 19 years and most HOA’s had problems with removal. She further stated that there was someone answering the public safety line. A question was posed on the POS system and what were the plans to get it operational, why weren’t proper permits obtained during renovations of the Community Center and why didn’t we follow ADA act. Jones stated she wasn’t here at the time so she could not answer so Brad Jones responded that at the time we were told that no permits were needed and that we only need an ADA facility at the maintenance area. A member stated that for storm prep a listing of members that are elderly and disabled should be identified and a list of pot holes should be maintained. Laura Jones stated that the pot holes change daily so it would be impossible to maintain list. One member stated that Classic Home Design does not pay dues or transfer fees, they build on wet lands and we give them free land. Jones stated that she believes they are paying. Paperwork has crossed her desk stating so. It was also bought to the attention of the membership that Classic Home Design advertises that ELA has no dues. Another member requested that the broken stop signs be repaired or replaced and finally a member stated that everyone should have a right to vote; please bring absentee voting back for a vote. (Editor’s note no Board member responded to the questions posed by its membership).
Voting was announced by Bill Owens our current CPA, rather than by the Judge of Elections, which has been a past practice. The results are as follows:
Board of Directors (2 open seats) – 109 valid votes cast
Dave Borsos 77
Jake Bower 67
Iretha Nalls 51
Resolutions – 102 valid votes cast
#1 65 yes 37 no (passed)
#2 71 yes 31 no (passed)
by Kathy Whelan
President’s message: President Diane Caldwell commented on the size of the crowd for a hot day and stated that they are prepping for the Annual Meeting.
Three candidates are running and you can read about them in the ELA newsletter. If there are candidates running from floor they usually run on stating that they will not be voting for a dues increase.
Caldwell stated she has seen the good, the bad and the ugly. There is a good group of people in the community that form an extended family that she has seen pull together when the chips are down. The bad is that you don’t always get what you want, and our financials are disgraceful since we have not had a dues increase in 6 years. These problems have been going on for years, and if we don’t have money, we can’t keep going on.
She stated that she doesn’t go with flow and speaks from her heart.
This reporter did not hear any comments from the president about the ugly in the community (see above for her statement on the good the bad and the ugly).
Caldwell also stated that procedures will be implemented for these meetings. They are run by Robert’s Rules of Order, and according to the agenda, deeded members are allowed to speak only during public comments. Members are only allowed to discuss one topic and will be limited to two minutes.
Committees have liaisons and make recommendations to the board. Board votes on these recommendations.
Caldwell also brought up the unofficial face book page about it being dynamite in the butt.
At this point Caldwell tears up, emotionally stating that it was a pleasure serving as president and working with awesome people like Betty, Jim, Dan, Penny and Cookie. Editor’s note – all of these individuals are on the events committee.
In closing Caldwell stated that changes have to be made and she promises changes.
Treasurer’s Report- Filling in for the treasurer, VP Al Leslie reported $349K cash on hand. He reported almost $327K in reserves and $139K in New Capital reserves. So far this year dues collected are $515K, up $8K over same period last year. Delinquency collections are at $65K, up $2.2K over previous year. The Community Center is $11K over budget. The Bar and Grill is $4,700 over budget. Director Buz Whelan interjected that the bar actually made money, over $2,300, The Grill lost $6,556.61, a new record for losses. Whelan went on to say after setting a goal of $1,250/month for the grill losses at the last meeting, we have actually gone in the opposite direction with losses increasing rather than decreasing.
Laura Jones introduced herself and stated that she was customer service focused but she won’t make promises. Some people will be pleased and some will be angry. She lives by the marine motto “Continue to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do”. She started on May 23rd and she follows best practices for HOA’s. Book is in conference room and anyone that wants to see it can do so. She can quote every page. She said that thus far Walk-in-Wednesdays usually have members looking to have their roads paved first or have their dues reduced.
We need our road maintenance plan updated.
Ballots sent out with Call to Meeting are samples. The watermark was too light and did not print on document.
Auditors are working on our financials and will be available at annual meeting.
Darrel Gamble, Manager of Operations, is our most valuable asset (now that Roxanne Chumacas is gone -Ed).
Ecosolution is currently treating lake for Fan Wart (Cambomba) Bladder wart is taking growth around edges and sometimes it takes up to a year for chemicals to work. In the Fall, you may see black murky water along the edges which is normal. Treatment does not kill fish, frogs, people etc. Only plants.
Although July 4th was noisy there were no injuries or property damage. No action can be taken on people lighting off fireworks unless they are seen physically setting them off.
Dogs need to be on leashes and registered in the office. AWSOM will chip your dog and give them a lifetime registration for $65.
Road proposals are being sent out.
New stainless steel backboards are replacing broken glass ones that were vandalized. If it continues the manager will close down courts.
Completed tasks include striping tennis and basketball courts, repair to roof over indoor pool, chairs moved to outdoor pool.
Temporary dehumidification system is working well, but when there is high humidity outside, it has a problem. When phase two of project is complete this situation should be rectified.
Solar covers and cover roller has been ordered for the outdoor pool.
Directors’ Comments: Director Whelan started to talk about Roxanne, who was recently terminated by Preferred Management, when President Caldwell stopped him since all personnel issues should be discussed in executive session. Mr. Whelan commented that it would be improper for her departure to go unremarked. He said that after 24 years of diligent and praiseworthy service she deserved more than to simply be gone. Mr. Whelan further stated that this was a real loss to the community and added, “And I miss her.” At that point Mr. Whelan received an enthusiastic round of applause from the audience and, although it is frowned upon for audience members to speak, some felt the need to whole heartedly agree with Mr. Whelan by calling out loud.
Committee Reports: F&P – Did not meet this month but Earl Frank stated that F&P never received financials for that month. Laura Jones thought the Treasurer sent them out, but stated she would send them out when she got back to office. He said that with increased salaries, taxes were not in budget.
Events Committee Chair Dan Glasgow said that is his understanding that money made from events went into their budget vs. the grill. This would lessen at least a portion of the grill losses. The committee recommends enclosed bulletin boards at various locations where people congregate, bus stops, beaches. A Labor Day event is being planned, and a community-wide yard sale. They are seeking donations for an October 7th cancer awareness event. Diane interjected that Tobyhanna Township wants to go with electronic signage and we should work with them.
Rules and Regulations – The committee recommends that an Ad Hoc committee be set up, comprised of all other committees, so that they could report back on what is going on. Long Range committee so that everyone on same page. Road map to future.
President Caldwell reported on Button Oil issue. She went to DA’s office as well as police Department to find out that we did not have a criminal suit, but a civil suit. Civil suit was not yet so maybe in October we could have a resolution, however, our chances are slim to none on collecting. Mr. Whelan then relayed a conversation he had with Button. He was interrupted by the president and accused of being unethical by talking to Button when we were in a legal process. Mr. Whelan continued to talk and relayed info on how to get our money back without going through the courts. Since we still owed Button almost $10K on the installed boiler, and since they were holding $48K in deposit money for future work, Button would agree to return $38K as full settlement and no court case with court and lawyer fees need be incurred. This could occur forthwith.
Clause 15 Update – Master Deed states that all people have to adhere to 15 covenants since it “runs with land”. Attorney has to prepare amendments to individual deeds.
A resolution was passed to transfer $53K, earlier transferred to reserves from operating funds to cover road paving, back to operating fund.
NEW BUSINESS: A resolution was passed to adjust Maintenance salary budget by $17K and reducing several line items by a like amount.
Resolution – Road Proposals: Passed – new road paving and maintained of tar and chip
Resolution – for an on-site fuel tank: passed
Resolution – Community Center Access: passed new hours for Monday, Wednesday and Friday are 9:30 am to 11:00 am. All members using facilities at this time must sign a waiver since there will be no lifeguards or staff.
Linda Shuey thanked everyone for the Elmway project and mowing in that area and for treating the lakes.
Dave Borsos asked if we were depleting reserves by taking $275K out. Board response was that this is what the reserves are for and that they will be replenished by incoming dues.
Earl Frank asked for listing of roads that are being repaved with money associated with it.
Carmen Broadnax asked for an explanation of two resolutions that will be voted on at Annual Meeting. Laura stated that she would have Auditor Bill Owens explain them at the Annual Meeting. Carmen stated that she would like that explanation before the meeting.
June Solla – June identified that the Call to Meeting did not identify the time that registration begins for the annual meeting, nor does it identify who is the Judge of Elections. Who is responsible for putting out the Call to Meeting? Gilda Spiotta was identified as the Judge of Elections.
Joe Olall – stated that the procedure for raising one’s hand to vote for the two resolutions has flaws. There are people in attendance that may not be members in good standing. In addition, there may be more than one person from a household voting when they are only entitled to a single vote. [Ed note – also, those with more than one property will have to be counted appropriately.]
Margaret Fitzgerald wanted more information on the on-site gasoline pump. Laura assured her that it will be under camera surveillance and that better controls will be in place. Logs will be maintained on who and what time the tank is being used and for what vehicle is being fueled.
Ron, who is a weekender since 2010, has a problem with a neighbor who has a dog that constantly barks even after he spoke to them.
Bob Nickolson stated his concerns about speed and recommending installing speed bumps. Laura Jones stated that they will be driving over people’s lawns to avoid them (?) and they are quite costly. Island Drive to the bridge is a speed zone.
Dick Styles is an ice fisherman and he wants to sign a waiver to fish, since we are allowing members into the CC without staff if they sign a waiver. Diane Caldwell stated that our insurance coverage does not provide for ice skating and ice fishing. She stated she will look into it again.
Kathy Leslie Whelan, this writer made a comment that she thought it was disingenuous to blame a recently terminated employee for issues of lost documents. There were no minutes to be approved at this meeting and, however they were lost, there is no evidence that Roxanne was at fault.
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.