What You Get For $1.5 Million Dollars

You Get a Property Owner trying to take the BBQ pit out before Demo. Were you offered an opportunity to do the same? – read more below for details!

About the picture:

A property owner was given permission by our previous TPOA board President to go to the clubhouse, destroy the area where the smoke pit/BBQ is built-in to remove the pit for his or her personal use prior to actual demo start date.  Was that ever discussed with the neighborhood for an opportunity for all who might be interested in the same opportunity to have the option to remove something via lottery or other objective manner since it is community owned?  Or was this just a friend helping a friend with property that belongs to the neighborhood?  Who was this property owner?  Ultimately, there was no construction fencing up, there were no permits in place yet and this individual should not have been destroying the building and the pit at the very least until demo had begun in earnest with the proper safety precautions in place – oddly enough as the destruction took place the individual realized the whole pit was cemented in place surrounded by stone and it was destroyed in the process with the debris and crushed pit left behind along with the nice mess you see in the picture. 

I had occasion recently to receive an e-mail from our former HOA board President, Greg Matula.  The message contained his perspective about my blog, and his opinion of his and my management styles when it comes to a neighborhood association among other things.  From the contents of his e-mail I quote the following: “I know you and I probably have many differences of opinion on how the association is run, but I appreciate the fact that you have always kept things cordial. I also appreciate that you spent a lot of time serving as a board member and gave much time and energy to the community.”

You know, he’s right, we do differ considerably about how an association should be run.  Take a look at just a few of those differences:

As a former POA President here in Timberwood Park, my tenure included open, transparent inclusive communication neighborhood wide to everyone in-spite of differences of opinion or ideologies.  Now we have a board who hides behind the power of their position using terms like “you elected us, and we can do whatever we feel is appropriate without seeking additional approval from the property owner”.

If a property owner had a question and I or my board didn’t have the answer handy, we made note and got back to the property owner with an answer.  Now we get “we’ll look into that” and never hear another word unless the issue or matter is continually pressed.

As we navigated a long, drawn out process of turnover from the developer to the property owners there was constant communication on many levels to ALL property owners in Timberwood Park, not just those who agreed with the board, but EVERYONE.  Now, for example, you have CLOSED Facebook groups which supposedly represent the community for communication but doesn’t allow for open conversation or discourse on any given matter, as well as secret meetings, community meetings where property owners are not allowed to actively participate in decision making processes. At most of these community meetings property owners are “allowed” to speak in a “citizens to be heard” at the end of the meeting “if there is enough time” – adjournment usually occurs quickly during this time because the board usually only allows 1 hour for most meetings. Period.

In the past, the bulk of the neighborhood newsletter contained the business of the neighborhood presented in a timely manner. It came to your mailbox on deadline and within the same month the news was generated.  Yes, there were social events mentioned and a few pictures here and there, but the bulk of the newsletter was about the business of the neighborhood – the turnover progress, County matters that effected the neighborhood, issues with local government and other entities that were being addressed and so on.  Now we get a newsletter which by and large depicts the many social events and activities and leaves little said about the actual business of the neighborhood like our true financial picture, open discussion about plans, timelines, projects, who sits on committees, etc.

In the past, board members made themselves available and responded to critics, property owner questions and concerns and communicated directly with those property owners even when it might be uncomfortable or unpleasant.  Now we have board members, most of, but not all, who defer to Spectrum Management to provide answers on matters which are important to property owners directly. 

So, what do you get for $1.5 million dollars?  Let’s look at some of the top things I can think of:

  • YOU GET RAISED ASSESSMENTS!!!!  Remember when Scott Myles and Greg Matula sat at one of our HOA meetings and told the audience when queried about the clubhouse project and it’s ever escalating costs whether assessments would be raised?  Their response was “we will not raise your assessment fees, but we cannot predict what another board will do”.  Isn’t it convenient that they both stepped down from their board positions only to head our Construction Oversight Committee which seems to be a closed society and can now say “see we told you we wouldn’t raise your assessments”????

Beginning next year our assessments will go up the 10% maximum they can legally for the next several years to allow us the ability to afford to pay back the loan when we begin making both principal and interest repayment for around $16,000 a month. As the increases come each year, we will reach over $300.00 a year up from our current $217 in the next couple of years.  So much for promises right?

  • You get a project which started as a survey to determine what the interest in the community was for remodeling the clubhouse which mysteriously turned into being a new build. Said survey reached some but not all households in our neighborhood for response.
  • You get a project which was originally priced at around $700,000 now currently estimated to cost $1.5 million dollars.
  • You get a project which the neighborhood was officially notified financing was approved for on a Friday afternoon the 29th of June around 4 pm via e-mail 3 business days before the official “special” meeting being held on July 3 at 2:30 pm in the afternoon of a workday, as well as the day before a major holiday, allowing very little option for most hard working property owners to attend and learn more.  But there were celebratory glasses offered to the first 25 people who attended! I wonder who wound up with those??? Shouldn’t this have been a well publicized event for the entire neighborhood with ample notice provided if it were to celebrate the approval?
  • You get $1.5 million dollars being deposited into our HOA bank accounts in full from day 1 suggested for sometime this week. We will be paying interest on that full loan for the next year while the project begins and is underway.  This is not a construction loan!
  • Let’s see, if my calculations are correct the property owners will be paying interest to the tune of around $10,000.00 per month for the entire time that money sits in our account while the building process takes place. Is that how you do business for your own finances? Where do we have that money in our current budget?
  • You will get a clubhouse built eventually which will not include the types of interior finishes one would expect for this price tag.  Ask about the furniture, appliances, carpet, exercise equipment and so much more.  And what will be done with the appliances which were bought new just a few years back, the marque which I understand we are giving to Spectrum to re-use in another one of their developments as we widen the entrances to the park under county direction for ingress and egress of EMS and 1st responders? Did we receive any money back for these items? Did we give them away and if so to whom? They belong to the property owners of Timberwood Park. Where will the money come from to furnish the clubhouse properly as will most likely be expected given what was spent on the structure?
  • You get the park torn up for the summer, fall, winter and possibly into next spring, liability wide open while construction is underway, social events still slated to continue in-spite of that increased liability….just a few of the obvious issues ahead…..the list is endless.
  • You get gates permanently wide open while construction crews run back and forth allowing anyone and everyone access to the park to continue to vandalize and/or abuse the assets of the park you pay for.
  • You get deferred maintenance on what we already own in the park for assets due to the budget constraints and the lack of money available to meet our current operating budget.
  • You get a Clubhouse Construction Oversight Committee whose committee members have been up until now the two previous board members who stepped down and a friend of our current President. I understand that one more person very recently joined the committee when there was a push to provide someone outside the proverbial “circle” of the board to the committee. Maybe the new member will provide some transparency if included in all discussions. Remember there are three votes on this committee who will vote in tandem and outvote a dissenting party if the discussion isn’t in line with current thought processes. Have you been made aware of any of this committee’s meetings or decisions? To my knowledge none of this committee’s work has thus far been in public site, nor do you as a property owner have access to these individuals should you have a question or concern. Why isn’t there a well rounded group of property owners with differing backgrounds and differing opinions sitting on this committee representing property owner interests who will handle regular progress reports, informational meetings and discussions, and so on? Is this your project for your neighborhood or this committee’s?

Given the lack of detail and information being provided to the property owners who are paying for this project, do you believe due diligence has been done to ensure that knocking down the clubhouse won’t knock out electricity to the other features around it? Has there been thought given to those people who hold season passes to the pool who were just getting excited they might actually find space to be at the pool now that the swim team has completed it’s season but are now faced with closure of the pool for who knows how long due to construction, the debris that will accumulate in the pool, the demo process in particular, electrical issues, etc.? To my knowledge nothing has been communicated to those individuals going forward.

Given some of the previous projects money has been spent for which have not gone well like, as one example, a splash pad which cost around $50,000-60,000 and subsequently needed to be dug up for leak repairs which cost about $20,000 and now leaks again and will need repairs somewhere along the same dollars or more; should you be confident this project will be managed any differently and done in the best interest of all property owners whether for or against the project?

Is this what property owners really wanted?

9 thoughts on “What You Get For $1.5 Million Dollars

  1. I have been in commercial construction for over 50 years. You never let out a job without a complete contract that has all of the specifications written out and signed properly. this includes a payment schedule based on percentage of work completed. someone must very diligent about proper management of this process. Sounds like 1.5 million will develop in very much more. I am very concerned .

  2. It’s more like $2 million plus if you include $400k in interest and change orders.

  3. Welcome to Timberwood Park. We have a million dollar clubhouse, outdated pool, broken splash pad and other issues that we cannot afford to address.

  4. Well this sounds like a lawsuit fixing to happen! I don’t like being forced to hand out my hard earned money to a group of misfits that can’t figure out how to manage construction/demolition issues and how to run a POA correctly and legally.

  5. With regard to the allegation made against “our previous TPOA Board President,” where’s the beef? Translation: “the proof.” In the spirit of fairness, I think said President should be encouraged to respond to your remarks, so that the community will have an opportunity to hear both sides and then weigh facts.

    I also wish to call your readers attention to Texas Penal Code 28.04 – Reckless Damage or Destruction, which is a Class C Misdemeanor. If the allegations are true about a certain unnamed property owner damaging our clubhouse, I think this person should be reported to the Sheriff. It’s very hard to believe that a Board member would encourage anyone to walk away with our property, without the prior consent of the Board. For the benefit of our community, I believe that if someone has first-hand knowledge of misdeeds, they have an affirmative duty to immediate contact the authorities.

    With regard to your tenure “as a former POA President,” speaking as one former President to another, thank you for your service. Serving on the Board of any HOA is a thankless job. I’ve served on three HOA Boards.

    From what I’ve heard, I don’t believe everything was groovy when you took the helm from the developer and then left office. Of course, the developer did us no favors carving Timberwood Park into 60+ fiefdoms, each of which were endowed by their creator with various special restrictions. Understandably, incorporating our HOA was no bowl of cherries. The worse part was the legacy we inherited as successors in interest. Unfortunately, little thought was given by those who took the reins to establish and nurture a businesslike culture and recruit new leaders for the future to serve us in a righteous manner. Ideally, one that fosters transparency and accountability along with strict adherence to our deed restrictions and corporate bylaws. To compound matters, lax and/or indiscriminate enforcement of our restrictions and controversial “rules” over the past 10 years have further undermined trust in our elected leaders and institutions. Things might be a little different today if Spectrum was not our association manager. Their competitors “mentor” Boards and the communities that they serve.

    Thankfully, there is more transparency today under our new President, who has changed the character of our infrequent meetings. The best part, which bodes well for the future of Timberwood Park and the TPOA, is electing more leaders like Paul Rutkowski, who has been effective in facilitating some incremental change in how we do business today. Thanks to Paul, who is getting his sea legs on the current Board, hope is alive for the TPOA to have a bright future, even with a stack of unforeseen bills for the Clubhouse.

  6. Thank you for your comments Mr. Kanter. I’m not sure what you are referring to in terms of any allegation being made. My comments about the pit are documented by the picture included in this blog along with witnessing first hand the results of the attempted removal of the property and the explanation I was provided of what happened to it. Regarding the marquee, which I believe cost about $13,000 a few years ago, the discussion was held openly at the last HOA meeting where the board indicated it would be given away to Spectrum who was re-purposing it in one of their other developments. The appliances (probably cost about $2-3k and were purchased about 4-5 years ago) that have been removed from the clubhouse — question was are they being given away as well and to whom? Are we reusing them in the new clubhouse?

    If communication had been provided about these decisions and choices perhaps the property owners could feel like they are informed about the project ahead and how the business end of it is being handled on their behalf. Instead we have no communication but a rush to demolish the clubhouse in an effort to ensure no further discussion will take place about remodeling versus new build. At a time when we are reaching critical impact for this huge project (the start of the project in full), it would seem the entire board should be busily getting the details taken care of to ensure the successful start of it. I understand the bulk of the board is not even in the neighborhood at this time. Seems prudent if this large project were coming to a head for start dates that those who are tasked with oversight and authority over it would be here ready to start things off properly or in the alternative stall start until they are available to manage it properly.

    I agree that the addition of Paul Rutkowski to the board has brought measurable change and success in providing property owners a far better view of our finances and obligations. Paul has been working tirelessly and many hours in an effort to correct long overdue errors in reporting done in the past on our financials along with many other projects for which he is involved. His approach to management is not only open doors, but that every property owner has a right to the information and details for which we ask as an owner in the development.

  7. This has been a nightmare since the VERY beginning and that’s documented. I have stated since the beginning that this is not how a construction job is done. My construction experience was called into question by people without any. I’m fighting mad over this entire thing and if you go WAY back and look at my initial post when we were given the brief opportunity to speak on this, I stated then what crap they were pulling in regards to the money they were supposed to be building this thing for. I called B.S. back then and my dollar amount was spot on. They lied to us, playing rush rush rush, and I believe it’s criminal. I have always questioned Spectrum’s part in this , in fact I have stated that they are completely unnecessary for this neighborhood much less this building project especially when you look at what THEY ARE RECEIVING out of it for absolutely nothing!
    Looks like liberal politics at its finest. Like I said criminal.

  8. This is very concerning to me as a new resident of Timberwood Park. It appears that the board has overly broad authority in terms of how they spend money and make decisions. Are there no set limits before money is committed, contracts are executed, etc. without property owner approval? It sounds like poor management is in play here. This kind of mismanagement and incompetence is not surprising because you have elected individuals that are apparently incompetent or inexperienced, and seemingly have little or no accountability for their actions. Why doesn’t the association hire a reputable and competent management firm to run the HOA?

  9. Mr. Kanter is correct on some issues and wrong on some others.

    Was there are rocky transition from developer to HOA President in turnover? Absolutely. To make the change, a who new BOD was brought in and I did not recall voting for any of them. As it appeared to e, this were buddies of the developer. Adding insult to injury, a (lawyer) in the middle of the meeting offered in his words “Standard Texas HOA Bylaws” which the board immediately accepted and approved never having even opening the cover. These bylaws were never opened for review, never offered to the membership for input and have (not to my knowledge) ever been posted. So I ask, as a member, how am I to respond to bylaws that I have no idea of how they impact me or my property or even what they state?

    If former BOD members are on a current subcommittee, I am sure their input to the BOD has more weight than anything I can comment on or offer. HOA BOD had or offered the gent who handled Neighborhood Watch / Cellular on Patrol program coordinator to call in interested parties of how WE could better protect the clubhouse and park. I pointed out that we members could do a lot – to our own properties but due to the Park falling under the auspices of the BOD, members of the BOD were charged with that responsibility and that we members could do nothing without their approval!

    Since 100% transition from Developer to the BOD (with exception of Mr. Paul Rutkowski), I have no faith in any other BOD member. They have schedule important meetings to their own convenience and not the members. They held a vote at the clubhouse and not ONE BOD member even let the security or manger even know that the vote for that night had been canceled.

    From what I know of finace, construction loans, business practices and even conforming to NPO organizations, this group has been secretive, unfriendly to opposing view, overstepped authority, even some members of the BOD have gone out to intimidate those who have differing opinions. All but a few sound like good candidates for the City of San Antonio Council.

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