Village Condominium Association
Notes on Monthly Meetings
- March 12, 2012
- November 14, 2011
- Annual meeting: May 9, 2011
- April 11, 2011
- March 14, 2011
- February 14, 2011
The Board of Managers meets at the Clubhouse on the second Monday of most months at 7:00 p.m. Dates and times of meetings are announced in the village newsletter. All residents of the Village are welcome and encouraged to attend, ask questions and offer suggestions.
Disclaimer: These notes are unofficial and open to corrections.
Recorder: Peg Kelley.
1. President’s Report
We were reminded of the annual meeting on May 14th at the Cunniff School.
If you are interested in being a candidate for one of the two open seats on the Board, you must declare your candidacy and submit your resume to the office by March 16th. Any candidate needs to submit his/her biography to the office in order to be published in the April newsletter.
2. Clerk’s Report
The February minutes will be in the April Newsletter.
3. Treasurer’s Report
The current information was in the minutes of the last newsletter.
4. Niles Report
Reminder that winter parking ends March 31st.
Spring cleanup of the grounds will begin this month, assuming the weather allows.
Reminder to all Unit Owners that any alteration of the unit requires Board of Managers approval.
The buildings and grounds will be inspected this month for any Spring maintenance required.
5. Other Business
A proposal is in the works for required work on the walkways in the Village. The sidewalks alongside the streets are the responsibility of the city of Watertown.
A Unit Owner requested that the Upper Pierce parking spaces be re-numbered. The vendor responsible for that is working his way through the village and Upper Pierce is definitely on the list for this season.
The Garden Committee is open for volunteers. It is a labor of love and makes a difference to the Village, so please consider joining the Committee. Please contact Debby at the Office to join for the June, July & August Garden Tours.
A Unit Owner proposed a by-law be adopted that requires residents to conform to the state regulation of the Department of Health recommending owners in “occupied, multi-unit dwellings” (the Village qualifies) use water-based sealant when refinishing wood floors. The oil-based version has toxic solvents that take several days to disappear, causing severe difficulty for neighbors who have to live and breathe in that air. The point was made that it can be difficult for the Board to intervene in agreements between unit owners and their vendors. However, the Board will look into the regulation for more detail and ask for feedback from the Village lawyer. Several suggestions were made including asking the floor refinishing company to ensure they are in accordance with the health regulations, asking unit owners to be responsible and kind to their neighbors by having such work done in the summer when windows can be open and by warning their neighbors in advance.
Next Meeting: Monday, April 9, 2012.
National Grid is close to a settlement with the Village (after 3 years). This will be a financial settlement that covers the work the Village had to do to repair National Grid’s mess, lawyers fees, etc. This means that National Grid will finish most of its work this week (by Thursday) and the main pipe will be replaced in the spring.
Meeting minutes for September and October were in the November newsletter.
The full report is in the November newsletter.
Note: if you received a letter in the past two weeks from a company called HomeServe or something like that about insurance for water work - specifically, the cost of digging up from your unit to the street - ignore it. The area covered is in the common area so the Association would be responsible for it.
Niles Management Report
1. Remove any summer furniture still outside as soon as possible. This includes baby carriages or lawn chairs, even if they are up among the foundation plantings. If not removed, they will be placed in the clubhouse garage and you will be fined.
2. Winter parking starts November 27th. Do not leave your car parked on the street/curb or you will be ticketed.
3. The Village Holiday Party will be December 12, 2011. Bring an appetizer, entrée, or dessert. This is a fun occasion and you get to meet your neighbors.
One unit owner suggested having the Village Newsletter not only distributed in paper form but also have it available on the Village website. Perhaps those who do not want the paper version could opt out. The Board will consider this and share the results with everyone.
A unit owner recommended that there be nametags at the Holiday Party on December 12th so we can learn one another’s names.
Finally, one unit owner said that the town actually has a two-hour parking limit and the police just do not enforce it. The question was whether this applied to overnight parking and the unit owner said yes.
Summary by Peg Kelley
Meeting was opened by Adrine Beurklian, President of the Board of Managers. She introduced the members of the Board and associates (Michael Merrill, Village lawyer and Elliot Sagan, the Village accountant).
On a voice vote, the roll call and reading of minutes were dispensed with.
Adrine Beurklian reviewed the past year and upcoming year with some highlights:
- The snowfall exceeded the contracted amount with our snow removal company and thus unexpected costs were incurred
- Reminder that all the Board members are unit owners and have the same issues and frustrations that every unit owner has
- 13 units were sold at the Village Condominium in 2010 for selling prices ranging from $255,000 to $310,000.
- Has been a stressful year for staff as well since they have to deal with the questions and complaints on a regular basis and the rain last year and snow caused many of those. Please be understanding of them.
- A website and chat/email discussion list was set up
- Given the aging of our buildings and property, much money has gone to upkeep in the areas of walkways, parking lots, etc.
- The reserve fund is healthy which gives our complex stability and avoids the necessity of assessments on unit owners
- National Grid owes the Association $15,000 for the unapproved work they did on the courtyard. This is currently in litigation.
- Remember that the master insurance does not cover the personal costs incurred inside units. The Association will not pay deductions if you incur damage inside your unit. Unit owners should have insurance for their own units to cover items inside the condo.
- Projected budget was given out to all unit owners. Please review it when you have time.
- We have spent nearly $500,000 in five years on masonry.
- In the past, wood on the outside of units was not protected, so it was kept painted. This also served to encapsulate lead paint, if any.
- The Board works hard to get any required work spread out over multiple years so no assessment is required for one high payment.
- Board of Members gets proposals from vendors and as of 2009 vendors where appropriate have had to pass relevant exams.
- Our condo fee is low in comparison to other condominium developments.
- The pool opens soon. We are required to have a pool operator who does required chemical tests daily in order to meet the standards of the health department.
- A no-smoking policy exists for the pool and clubhouse.
- Janet Cristello and Debbie Wholley from Niles have worked together, each one part-time, to cover the office as needed.
Pat Gold was presented with a certificate of appreciation for her twenty-five years of service to the Village Condominium.
Elliot Sagan, CPA, presented the financial status of the VCA. In 2010, operating costs exceeded revenue by $79,000 (expenses = $1,090,000 and revenue = $1,011,000). Revenue includes condo fees, interest income, fines, clubhouse rental.
The excess includes $38,000 in management fees (G&A), $20,000 for water and sewer (utilities), and $29,000 for parking lot work, pool expenses, etc. This amount of $87,000 was offset by savings of $8,000 in other categories.
Mr. Sagan shared the assets ($182,000 which includes cash on hand, accounts receivable, prepaid insurance) and liabilities ($129,000 which includes accounts payable, water and sewer, and fees paid in advance). The reserve fund is kept in local CDs and mutual funds and earned $7,700.00 last year for a total of $287,000.
The big unknown variable for 2011 is the outcome of the National Grid lawsuit.
Janet Cristello gave the Niles Management Report. Some key points:
This is the 39th Annual Meeting
In 1972 the Fairfield Apartments converted to the Village Condominium complex at a time when condos were a new concept. At that time, units were sold for $20-30,000 with appliances and carpet. Without appliances and carpeting, they cost $19,000.
In 1999, the standard cost was $170,000.
There were only two foreclosures last year.
In 2011 (as of May), there are 11 units for sale for prices ranging from $219,000 to $300,000.
Remember that the Master Deed specifies the responsibilities of the Association and the individual Unit Owner. So, if in doubt, check it out there.
Niles carries out the plans of the Board of Members.
Special thanks to Niles staff: Steve Wholley, Gerry Raguso, and Debbie Wholley.
Thanks also to Steve Santos, a unit owner, who keeps our computers up-to-date and functioning. This past year, he has brought our unit owner database up to speed.
Remember that we have a strong Board managing a budget over $1 million and they wisely manage maintenance in cycles so there are no sharp increases or assessments.
Personal thanks from Janet Cristello to Mr. Mancini who hired her 20 years ago and taught her much about the work she has done here.
This is Janet Cristello’s last Annual Meeting and she thanked everyone for the experience.
Each candidate spoke about his/her experience and credentials and expectations for the upcoming year. The top three vote getters were elected to the board. Blank proxy votes were allotted to three with the highest totals. The results were as follows:
- Maria Rupp: 128 votes + 18 proxy votes for total of 146
- Alice Marullo: 121 votes + 18 proxy votes for total of 139
- Adrine Beurklain: 97 votes + 18 proxy votes for total of 115.
- Elizabeth Bischoff: 88 votes
- John Hostage: 50 votes
The meeting was brought to order at 7:00 pm.
First agenda item was a reminder of the Annual Meeting on May 9th where we will vote for new members of the Board. A certain percentage of unit owners must attend (in person or via proxy) or the meeting has to be held again – with all the related costs that entails.
Niles Management report
- Winter parking ended March 31st
- New barrels are out to collect garden debris (for use by residents clearing their gardens or lawns)
- Blue stakes are available in the office for gardeners to indicate the unit owner does not want the garden weeded by the landscaping company.
- Pool will open Memorial Day weekend and pool passes are available in the office after May 10th
- Joe Weiler, head of the Garden Committee, invites people to join the Committee. It requires one Sunday evening in June, July & August to view and appreciate gardens created by Village residents.
Candidates for Board of Managers
There are five people running for three positions on the Board. Each candidate gave a brief reason for why he/she is interested and qualified for the position and this was followed by a question and answer session.
Currently Vice President and, if re-elected, plans to run for President. Became unit owner in 1996 and has been on the Board since 2007. Works in Quality Assurance.
Resides on Pierce and this is her second time running for the Board. As a relatively new unit owner, she hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the board. She has a real estate license (since 2002) and a background in operations management which gives her extensive experience in hiring and managing vendors and contracts. She is currently the Village Newsletter editor.
Has been on the Board a number of years, most recently managing the finances of the Association. Her goal is to keep the condo fees within reasonable limits and to maintain a strong Reserve Fund. The last special assessment was in 1990 (for the electrical upgrade and creation of outdoor electrical boxes) and rather than incur the need to assess again, her goal is to have enough in the Reserve for special and unexpected needs.
Been a unit owner since 2003. Currently manages the Village website. Was on the Board at a smaller condominium association in the past and therefore would bring experience to the VCA.
Currently on the Board as Clerk. Unit owner since 2006 and was new then to Condo ownership. Is administrator in a law firm. Has learned to be an effective volunteer Board member which includes asking questions, and being prepared to disagree while open to learn.
After the brief introductions, the floor was opened for questions.
The first question was about what constitutes the appropriate use of the Reserve Fund. For example, many people had issues with basement flooding. Would it be appropriate to use the Fund for any general issues there?
Maria responded first by pointing out that the first guide is the Master Deed which details what the responsibility of the unit owner is and what is the responsibility of the Association. Sometimes, unit owners take actions that actually are counter-productive (for example, a sump pump that was installed too deeply and was pulling water from the water table!).
The discussion extended to other candidates and the unit owners in attendance. One item that emerged is that we ended 2010 with a $78,000 deficit (although $48,000 of this is an accounting timing issue and more correctly belongs in 2011). This will be discussed at the Annual Meeting in May.
The Village buildings are aging and flooding is a real challenge. So is the masonry, especially in the stairs that have bricks on cement. This design allows moisture to get underneath the bricks and break apart the concrete. Our mason is exploring ways to address this problem.
One unit owner asked Adrine what she saw as the biggest challenge facing the Village Condominium complex. She indicated that accurate budgeting is the biggest issue in her view.
The topic of limited parking was raised. One unit owner asked if there were some way to increase the number of spaces. A Board member shared the history that the spaces were re-painted for smaller cars some years ago, thus creating a few new spaces. However, many people do not want tandem parking. A unit owner pointed out that some residents have two non-tandem spaces and perhaps there could be year-round parking as in winter where a vehicle can be in front with two wheels on the grass. We could even require this usage since some residents currently have to walk to Victory Field to move a car at 6 a.m. every morning. Apparently, there are city regulations on this as well as Association guidelines about green space. If paving were added, it would not only decrease the green space but might also have a negative impact on flooding since the ground would no longer absorb water. Another idea was to allow each unit a maximum of two spaces and those spaces are used as tandem or are lost.
Elizabeth, as a candidate, suggested that a better lottery system might address some of these issues.
A unit owner suggested a committee be convened made up of non-Board members (or one Board member and other residents) on the subject of parking to investigate alternatives. In general, it would be good if the new Board could take a fresh and creative look at the problem.
The meeting was adjourned around 7:50 p.m.
Summary by Peg Kelley
Allocation of Extra Parking Spaces
In response to a unit owner request for clarification on how the waiting list for extra parking spaces was maintained and how spaces were allocated, management informed us that there was a long waiting list and that residents were allocated extra spaces as they became available. We were also told that any resident could call the Village office at any time to find out their place in the queue.
Another unit owner suggested that when a unit was unoccupied it might be possible to arrange to rent the unused parking space on a temporary basis especially in the winter.
A unit owner indicated that there was a discarded rusting file cabinet behind 10 Duff. Management said that they would remove it.
Law and Order
The supervisor from the Watertown Community Policing Division attended the meeting because a non-resident unit owner had threatened to show up at the meeting with a gun following a dispute. The police officer indicated that the unit owner had profusely apologized and that residents should feel safe.
— Summary by Sian Steward
We were informed that the correct procedure if you need something shoveled is to call the office at 617-923-1684 (leave a voicemail for Debby if no one is there). The message will be communicated to CJ, who is in charge of the overall snow removal effort. Also, neither bulkheads nor dryer vents are part of the snow removal contract so if a bulkhead is leaking or a dryer vent is blocked, clear it away yourself. But do inform the office for spring/summer repairs on the bulkheads.
We also learned that the contract for snow removal has already exceeded the maximum in the contract (60 inches per season). From that point on, the cost is labor plus materials (all the removal equipment including plows and front loaders) so we should all hope there are no more snowstorms because we will have to pay for it one way or another as an association.
Phone chain: Judith Poole has suggested it would be helpful to have a phone chain to inform owners when the snow is being plowed. To participate, send name, Village address, parking space or area, e-mail address, and phone number to Judith at Judith.Poole@verizon.net
— Summary by Peg Kelley