CLUBHOUSE STALLS INDEFINITELY?

If you attended the April TPOA meeting, once again it can be noted that a new tone of participation and transparency is in the air and there is definitely some change in how the board views the property owners they were elected to represent in attendance.  Whereas in the past property owners were considered insignificant and irrelevant to any decision-making process much less participation during the meeting, there are now opportunities to ask questions, seek answers and have a board member actually respond with something other than “I don’t know and we’ll look into it”. 

Unfortunately, some things just can’t be overlooked.  As has been reported repeatedly in previous blogs, in social media discussions, and on other platforms about what is legal or not in our development,  the board believed they could do a “special assessment” if necessary because the by-laws that THEY created which none of us officially voted on to approve, stated they could do so. 

Repeatedly and previously in various discussions the board has been told by more than one resource they were not able to do anything more than raise our assessments by 10% annually which is clearly outlined in our deed restrictions. And yet, as the board neared the finish line in obligating our neighborhood, our commonly owned park and all property owners to an approximate $1.5 million dollar plus interest loan to build a new clubhouse, the bank they chose to work with (not a local one at that) asked as a part of their underwriting requirements for the legally binding means to be able to levy a “special assessment” should it be necessary during our loan obligation with them due to a loan default or lack of ability to meet the monthly obligations to repay the loan. 

From someone who has worked in the financial lending industry for a number of years, if a lender is seeking additional collateral and reassurances that the loan can be repaid, it believes the borrower may not be the best candidate financially, may not have the financial resources to make them a solid candidate for borrowing, and are looking for additional security to ensure they get repaid.  Our financials, as you have all seen during the whole club house build process, have gone through redo after redo after redo because of errors, misstated information and monetary misstatements.  The board oversees the preparation of the financials and where the money goes.  Shouldn’t they have a handle on those numbers and know them clearly before they begin the lending process?  Could that possibly be one reason why a bank might think that we might not be a good candidate for a loan?

If the board had been doing their fiduciary duty ensuring our financials were solid and we had enough operating capital to handle the debt load they were about to obligate us to, they would have known we were not a good borrowing candidate for a loan package of this size.  Some of the reasons include: 

  1. we don’t have the reserves saved we should have by now,
  2. annually we spend almost as much as we have revenue and some years  more than we bring in with the budget we currently have,
  3. the board has allowed a management company total autonomy in managing our neighborhood, the financials, and everything associated with the business of the neighborhood
  4. building social programs has taken precedent over business operations of the neighborhood.

Before anyone decides to send me hate mail or shoot arrows my way, please know that I love a good party just as much as the next guy and I believe social activities bring a neighborhood together.  However, the focus of the TPOA is not to establish our social health but rather to handle and manage the business of the TPOA on behalf of its property owners.  That means budgeting, saving, best use of funds, prioritizing necessary repairs and maintenance, etc.  Social activities fall to the bottom of the list of what the board should be focusing on. 

Do you all remember attending meetings with audiences asking questions about business matters only to have a blank look from former Presidents and their teams with no answers or a look at the Spectrum rep in attendance to answer the question?  Shouldn’t the board know the finances, where the money goes, etc.?

The board, this board, has known for some time now they could not legally levy a special assessment for any reason because our deed restrictions state clearly the assessments can only be raised by 10% per annum.  Let me restate that:  Our deed restrictions allow for only a 10% per annum increase period. Our deed restrictions rule our property ownership, not the bylaws created out of thin air which no property owners voted for or against. Yet they considered it a possible option because the by-laws they created stated it was a potential option they could undertake with their ruling authority. Statements made at the meeting indicated that legal interpretation sided with the deed restrictions in the inability to levy such an extra fee.

The last blog about the clubhouse raised the question why we aren’t all asking for a HALT on the forward movement of the clubhouse build given the mistakes, the miscalculations, the mismanagement, and no fiscal accountability. 

The utter lack of investigation and understanding by the board of the problems that we would be facing in attempting a new build in the park prior to undertaking such a huge endeavor is undeniable.  Like permitting with TCEQ, the county, fire and any other agencies involved in our neighborhood’s use of its park.  In planning such a large investment/expense for our neighborhood, shouldn’t the board have spent time prior to obligating funds in several directions which have now largely been wasted to determine what it would take and how much it would cost to actually build?

One example with regard to permitting is the flood plain which exists in a good portion of our park and particularly around the clubhouse area and how it impacts where dirt can be moved, etc.  The board was warned of this pitfall and told of several others which awaited them as they decided to build a new club house.  Instead of listening to educated members of the community that were attempting to help avoid extra expenses and unnecessary problems, the board blazed forward spending money on master park plans, design plans, architectural plans, fees and permits, loan fees, application fees, etc. all to now be not only wasted, but apparently we will be starting over once again.  More money wasted!

Property owners – it’s time to say STOP!!! It’s time to insist on an oversight committee of property owners who have the knowledge, the experience and the expertise in managing, building and financing a project of this stature to ensure it is done properly and is financially solid.  It’s time to have independent thinkers at the table of management who actually want to manage the BUSINESS of the TPOA! I don’t mean board members who have had more than enough time, and plenty of learning curve opportunities which seem to have been ignored, to sit on this committee. I mean unaffiliated property owners who live here in Timberwood Park and can offer a well rounded perspective on the entire project. 

Maybe it’s even time to revisit the vote process and determine how the neighborhood feels about the project at this time given the money we have wasted thus far and the lack of progress we have made in the process due to mistakes, inaccurate information and lack of knowledge of the business aspects of the association.  Generally speaking, not focusing on the business aspect of the TPOA has cost us considerably already.  Why not put it out to the property owners to determine where they would like to go now that we have been turned down for financing?

As has been said before, we should be capable of saving the bulk of funds necessary for the project without needing to finance such a large obligation if we manage our funds properly and stop using them unwisely.  Sacrifice those “extras” that money is spent on while we ensure the maintenance and upkeep of the existing assets of our park remain intact and operational and allow a building fund to be saved to “make it happen”.

Property owners speak up!  It’s your money!

32 thoughts on “CLUBHOUSE STALLS INDEFINITELY?

  1. Great discussion of some of the problems! I hope more property owners read and understand what has been happening for several years.

  2. We have lived here for almost four years now and have been to the park for music event only one time…just to check it out….I’m not being critical when I say….we’ve never wanted to go back…it’s just not our thing. We might go back at some point in time….but the only reasons I can think of are to maybe use the exercise equipment…or to walk our dogs around the pond….But I really don’t think we ever will really….please take our share and use it on something else other than a club…my wife has an MBA and PhD and the majority of her career has been spent in executive staff levels of state universities…she’s managed building and other major projects…and I have an MBA in strategic management and a dual bachelors in business admin and business technology and have worked on tons of very large scale projects in computer systems and information technologies as well has having been a sonar systems technician for an experimental sonar system and having gone through shipyard overhaul periods on two ships….not turning in our resumes….just wanted to put our qualifications out there before I say we always had problems with them going forward with the clubhouse project…especially in the manner that they did….

  3. A new clubhouse would be nice but we just can’t afford it at this time. In my opinion I say get rid of Spectrum also

  4. WOW…how did I manage to have so many mistypes? Please remove or disregard my previous comment. Thank you.

  5. What a holy mess. We deserve better than this. This is what a cartel controlled proxy manipulated BOD nets us. How much money has been wasted?

  6. My husband and I do not want. New clubhouse! We have been here only 6 months.Who voted for this? I say stop, stop now.

  7. It’s almost like our political climate!!! No one cares about anything unless their agenda is the one being pushed. Sadly as a resident this clubhouse is the last thing on my agenda. I appreciate your well articulated post but no matter how much sense you make some on the board could care less.

  8. It may be time for some of us on here to meet and discuss how we put a halt to this project.

  9. BTW I voted three times and different ways and till this day it seems no one ever caught it. So I ask how many others voted multiple times for the club house??????? Hmmmmm

  10. Response to TP Resident: Thanks for sharing this information. Interesting and not surprised. The fact that the voting process was so messed up, started and stopped, inaccurate information was produced and withdrawn by the board and then the voting started again leaves many property owners wondering whether or not the process was accurate and fair let alone only one vote per household paying an assessment fee.

  11. TERRIFIC that the financing was turned down! So exactly how much of our money has been waisted on this fiasco? Maybe we should ask the incompetent folks who forced this idea down our throats in the first place for reimbursement of the waisted TPOA funds? Right. Leveraging all home owners in TP for a 1.5 million dollar loan is a fiduciary dereliction of duty in the first place!
    The park is a wonderful asset for “The Home Owners” of TP to enjoy. Renting out the club house to non property owners for a revenue stream always a stretch and someones whim. We have enough problems in the neighborhood with transients who do not belong here in the first place, so why invite more trouble?
    I do agree the clubhouse could use a face lift. Add an addition if you like, but just remodel the structure. This would be a better fiscal alternative. Also, have another vote and declare if 95% of ALL property owners, not just the one’s who voted, want to waist 2 million on a new build and be on the hook, then so be it.

  12. Great information – thank you. Just curious, has there ever been a “Budget Meeting” for TWP residents – where we can see the money that was brought in and money paid out each month? Also, is it time to have an audit done by an outside, unbiased source?

  13. I am against the clubhouse. It is dangerous to get into debt over a clubhouse. The existing clubhouse has more amenities such as showers and saunas (they need to be repaired) that were not even included in the $1.5 million club house! Add on, and improve the existing clubhouse makes financial sense at this time. I don’t buy what I can’t afford. As a neighborhood we have prided ourselves in low HOA fees, we risk losing that benefit if we move forward. STOP

  14. Background:

    The reason for fix (not to Code) or build was that the Club House is not ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant.

    The Bylaws were offered by a never seen before lawyer and accepted by a BOD (not by the HOA members) that replaced the old BOD in what was a changeover after the old BOD asked for all the monies and control over the Timberwood Park Association as Developer had major control over all associated monies etc. Never voted for nor even knew these people existed prior to this meeting which I did attend. To my knowledge, these “Standard Texas HOA Bylaws” were never published though these may be out there by now.

    Financials were discussed and gone over with great detail before this change occurred. Afterwards it was glossed and pretty much all we started to see were “revenues and expenses” with less and less details. No audits were ever offered and specifics of purchases got buried in column headings. New park access cards and system was never put to a vote that I know of meaning if this expense was done without HOA approval, many others were probably done in the same manner “behind closed doors”.

    This is offered as a background and prelude to where we are now to enlighten the new owners and residents who have moved here after 2005.

  15. Thank you for the update. What a mess! Stop the madness! Do not go forward with new clubhouse.

  16. After the previous board made it clear a new clubhouse was going to happen and prior to the vote, we had a notable remodeling company meet with us and tour the facility. Giving the company the objectives and reasons why the previous board wanted a new clubhouse, they provided some recommendations, suggestions and some ball park estimates in the area of $500K. When this was shared with a previous board member, the idea was dismissed as not being viable. The plans for the new clubhouse shows it to be larger, but with less amenities, I.e. no showers in the exercise area. We are now left with a clubhouse where maintenance has been ignored, and no bank financing for a new clubhouse. Maybe it is time to re-visit the remodel. It could be done in phases and be paid for with cash eliminating any finance charges. Does everyone remember when the board said they were going to get quotes for a remodel versus a new build? I do, but the previous board denies that option was ever on the table.

    We have been residents of Timberwood since 1979 and at the last meeting it was “refreshing” that the current board has finally read our deed restrictions and acknowledged our deed restrictions over-rule the documents which the previous board(s) arbitrarily filed with Bexar County after the turnover in 2010-2011.

  17. We purchased our lot and built in TP in June ‘17 and moved in our home in Dec ‘18. We love the park and have actually used the clubhouse for an event. There’s nothing wrong with it minus maybe some upgrades could be done. The current plan is not only a misuse of funds, but also isn’t a great improvement. The gym loses showers because “homeowners live in TP and can shower at home.” Quite a few gym visitors choose to shower directly after a workout, get dressed, and go to work. This is actually removing an amenity… Also, when we go to the park and see other families with children, we often know they go to TPES with our children and we enjoy meeting fellow parents. Opening up the clubhouse to others and the park takes away some of those “non-city subdivision” perks that we enjoy so much.

    From a young family raising children here- we are just fine “as-is” or with a very minimal upgrade on the current clubhouse. Re-vote and stop the build please.

  18. We have been here 2.5 years now. We are against wasting another dime on a clubhouse that the HOA is obviously not prepared to do at this time. It would be prudent to look into what we have lost on this fiasco and decide if there is a remedy to recover the loss from the board and management that knew this was not going to pass muster. The clubhouse can be remodeled and improved in due time but for now we need to go about fixing the mess we are already in before adding more to the mix.

  19. The dues we pay are significantly lower than any other POA or HOA in the are that offers the amenities of the neighborhood. Fiscal responsibility lies in the boards hands to manage as well as the residents hands to pay an appropriate amount needed for the system to function properly. That being said the 10% increase should have started years ago in order to take care of general maintenance of the building and the grounds. .

    Several comments above tell us how much experience people have in manage projects, securing loans and managing the the funds appropriately, yet very few people are willing to come donate their time to help. As far as I am concerned anyone who wants to lecture on how much knowledge they have on a subject but are completely unwilling to step up and due something to help are no better than the people we elect into government.

    The glaring issues that we must overcome will not be possible without an honest look at our management system, our internal checks and balances as well as ourselves and what is an appropriate amount so pay to live in a community as good as TWP.

    Matt Stults

  20. Need to raise the dues right away!
    Improvement of our neighborhood is vital for this community.

  21. Response to Matt Stults: The post was an informational piece for those property owners who were not able to attend the last meeting but are keeping track of what exactly is happening in our neighborhood under the “management” of this board. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but as far as participation and stepping up goes, I was the President of what was our former “voluntary” neighborhood HOA (TPPOA) which ran on about $25,000 a year and led the successful turnover effort which gave all the property owners of Timberwood Park the ability to self govern and manage the assessment fees collected for our development management and maintenance. With that small budget our focus was the business of the neighborhood – our common area maintenance, improvements where improvements could be made with the then developer’s approval, repair and replacement to existing assets and amenities and we were still able to provide Music in the Park, Picnic in the Park, Easter Egg Hunt, Christmas events, a Pancake Breakfast and more while saving funds each year. The knowledge referred to in the blog was built on 5 years spent volunteering 30-60+ hours a week to our neighborhood prior to and leading up to the 2011 turnover and learning about all the anomalies as well as moving pieces of the development in an effort to ensure a successful turnover to the property owners from our developer. When the mediated turnover was settled, management of our development was turned over to some of the current members of this board as well as several who have stepped down since. It’s not a lecture to want to see the neighborhood business (TPOA) run like a business with an accurate balance sheet, income statement, and business operations and practices in order. Glaring mistakes, careless errors and indifference to know and understand the actual business operations of our neighborhood have put us in the position we currently are in with regard to the proposed clubhouse build and financing failure.

    By and large, one of the attractive pieces to buy in Timberwood Park are the low, affordable assessments that are paid by property owners each year and with the number of properties paying those assessments, the funds raised each year should easily more than cover the business, general operations, repairs and maintenance of our commonly owned areas while also allowing for some “fun” or social activities and should further allow for saving incrementally for large asset improvements without financing them if budgeting is focused on properly. Higher fees, or as you stated “what is an appropriate amount to pay to live in a community as good as TWP” suggest that you feel it is acceptable to raise assessments however much is considered necessary in an effort to change our financial status somehow. It’s the poor management of what we already have available that has caused the lack of funds necessary to move forward with the proposed new build, not lack of funds.

    Just curious, have you given your time and talent to the neighborhood on any committees or the board?

  22. In response to Matt Stults comment, there were several professionals in the neighborhood who offered their services with a minimal fee or free of charge but the previous board choose to totally ignore their professional advice. You may not have been aware of that. Some other members may be able to recall the names of these great citizens in our neighborhood. Unfortunately my memory fails me.

  23. In response to Mr. Mutz, Thank you for providing comment!

    One of many of the attractive reasons to purchase and live in Timberwood Park are the low, affordable assessments that are paid by property owners each year and with the number of properties paying those assessments, the funds raised each year should easily more than cover the business, general operations, repairs and maintenance of our commonly owned areas while also allowing for some “fun” or social activities as well as further allowing for saving incrementally for large asset improvements without financing them if budgeting is focused on properly. Legally it is not possible to raise our assessment fees more than 10% per annum. I believe most property owners would agree that raising them just to afford a non-essential asset improvement or “I want” because budgets didn’t forecast operational costs properly, didn’t prepare for a large future asset improvement by saving appropriately, and didn’t operate for the last 7+ years within the means given to allow that saving to take place is not good business practice.

    Our board was given in trust, to manage on our behalf, in the neighborhood of $600,000.00+ a year in collectible assessment fees, pool fees and other income sources. It would seem there should be a substantial savings account that could allow incremental improvement to the clubhouse footprint without seeking financing options which cost the neighborhood thousands of wasted dollars in wasted interest and loan fees. Those savings would be in addition to the reserves necessary to cover unexpected expenses and/or the need to replace those assets which are always cycling out for end of useful life after depreciation and wear and tear has taken it’s toll. It’s the poor management of what we already have available that has caused the lack of funds necessary to move forward with the proposed new build, not lack of funds. Raising fees will not solve that.

  24. Postscript to the first response back to Matt Stults: I understand from another recent comment by a someone who states he personally knows Mr. Stults that Mr. Stults has fund raised for the kids cook off prizes during the chili cook-off event as well as has made a commitment to donate a tree for each tree donated and planted by another property owner of Timberwood Park. Thank you for your participation in the social activities of our neighborhood as well as further beautification of the park Mr. Stults.

  25. I never wanted a new clubhouse. I always thought it was a huge waste of money. I mean a huge waste, not just a little blip on the radar. And that’s OUR money, the community, not the board’s to do with as they will. They just can’t understand that point. I can maybe understand a facelift, if that. I always liked it just the way it was, and I’m really not sure what people want that isn’t there. I don’t know what the board was even thinking putting this on the table.

  26. People need to be mature and realize there is a huge difference between a “WANT” and a “NEED”. We don’t NEED a new clubhouse and we as a group need to accept that it is more than likly that we can not afford one either. Does anyone know the best way to put a stop to this?

  27. It never occurred to me that we would have a board with the attitude of it’s my way or the highway. Had they reviewed the bylaws in the beginning, they would have found that there are a number of them that are in direct conflict with the Deeds. The Deeds were violated from the start by the ACC. I personally brought up discrepancies from the very beginning at a number of meetings. No one was willing to listen. I worked for a number of years as the head of the ACC under the direction of Mr. Gale for the TPPOA. I asked the TPOA board about an independent audit of the finances after the first year, and found none had been started. I do not know of a legal audit to this day. The proxy votes must be eliminated. If a board member can turn in 100 proxies at a voting meeting, it does nothing but place personalities first in lieu of best choices of qualified personal. State law pertaining to Freedom of information Act are not being followed as well as federal laws. On several occasions an individual with 20 years as federal prosecutor brought this up at meetings and even submitted documentation to cover the subjects. Nothing was accomplished, again not willing to learn from knowledgeable people. I’m in total agreement with Mr. Hernandez opening letter and have lived in TWP since 1997. I hope the current board proceeds with more transparency and committed to better law abiding practices.

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