On Saturday evening our neighborhood hosted the always popular annual Halloween Around the Lake event in our private park. While I didn’t do an actual census count, it appeared from the crowd gathered in the park we might be nearing the 1,000 or more mark in attendance — or at least several hundred anyway (seemed like a 1,000 😊). The event always provides a great opportunity for neighbors and friends to gather for a social opportunity in our wonderful private park. It was a great success as it is every year and lots of fun for those who attended who saw a great neighborhood party take place in our park!
I went with the purpose of wanting to hand out candy, as I have done in years past. And, yes to hand out “vote for Cindy” cards as a promotion for the upcoming HOA election. Jim Burdine was also at the gate doing the same thing. I’ve witnessed this event become a sort of “kick-off” event for candidates who are running for office for several years now. Other candidates were also campaigning inside the park with signs and such.
Behind the scenes, I was struck by the number of people who kept coming as I stood at the gate beginning at about 5:15 pm handing out candy to the revelers who were walking and driving in. It was wave after wave after wave. I was surprised that there was no security, no volunteer(s) who had been given the task to manage the flow, no board member in place to assist with the flow of people and vehicles who were entering the park.
There were 3 of us standing at the gate, and from time to time, 4 of us. None of us an actual volunteer who was scheduled to work the event, but we were nonetheless working to aid as best we could the constant flow into the park moving safely and generally checking for fobs and/or wristbands in accordance with the policy listed as part of the event. Vehicles, golf carts, pedestrians all kept coming on a regular basis. As the parking lot continued to fill, we wondered how to tell when the lot was full and turn vehicles away. Mind you the event had not yet officially begun, but with the open gates people had been entering throughout the day doing set-up, getting their spot/booth to hand out candy, etc. and attendees were already coming for the night’s activities. We were approached by a gentleman in a golf cart who was irritated the back gate was not open for him to go in and out with his golf cart. He was insistent that someone correct that problem. He continued his insistence and distraction which was starting to impact the gate operation, so we suggested he speak to a board member about the matter. He approached the board member in charge of security for this event and as a result the back gate was not only opened for golf carts but left open unattended for the entire event. To my knowledge, there was no-one checking for wristbands or fobs at the back gate.
At the same time a board member asked if we could check wristbands and fobs officially as volunteers for the event since we were handing out candy at the entrance and we were given vests to do so. The four of us working the gate of course agreed readily to assist, but I think we were all surprised there were no other scheduled volunteers at the gate to regulate entrance into the event.
While we experienced a variety of responses from neighbors and other attendees coming in that evening, we also heard “thanks for checking and verifying attendance, great to see it being done”. And likewise, we heard from those who were turned away stating “we have never been checked before, they didn’t do this last year”. We also learned from some attendees there were flyers out at the local Spirit of Halloween store off 281 and the comment was “how do you expect to control attendance if you have flyers out in public announcing the event?”
The hired security arrived as scheduled at 6 pm and began taking over the large crowds. They were extremely professional and were helpful in directing safe passage for pedestrians as well as keeping vehicles from entering the full park while also aiding those vehicles leaving the park to safely navigate the crowd coming in.
We ran the front gate from 5:15 until about 7:45 when we handed in our volunteer vests and as we left there was one paid guard at the gate. The paid guard was given instructions to no longer monitor the gate but walk in the park instead following our departure from the gate.
Here’s what I believe is important for all property owners to understand. This is one of the cornerstone events for our neighborhood. It was started as a neighborhood activity and has grown over the years due to word of mouth, the open gate, neighborhood growth surrounding Timberwood Park, and the great fun the activity is each year. We are at a point where we seriously need to manage all events we hold in our park to ensure our property owners and their guests can attend successfully while not producing events for the larger population of San Antonio or wherever they may be coming from.
To do that, we need to start thinking proactively about how the manage events so as not to become so overwhelming they cannot be controlled effectively. The HOA is ultimately liable for any “accidents or incidents” which might occur during one of our events. In the current sue happy environment today, don’t think for a minute that someone who has an issue at one of these events won’t look for compensation via a lawsuit that impacts the solvency of our HOA. Our insurance can only do so much. It has already been not renewed & new insurance was purchased at triple the old rates due to our current insurability rating.
This is but one factor which impacts our bottom line and what annual funds are available for operations. Couple that with the increased SAWS bills headed our way (22% increase in our park water bills is coming in 2020 that has yet to be budgeted for), the principal and interest payments we will need to make on our clubhouse business loan, add other increases in costs, and our budget is going to be extremely tight, if not upside down, even with an assessment increase.
Please consider the future solvency of the neighborhood when making your choice voting this year for board members. The first job of any board member is to protect and maintain our existing assets. Whether you like the word amazing, awesome, or any other buzz word being used as a slogan for electoral purposes — to be any of those we must remain solvent and we must take care of our assets and investments.
I believe we need far more volunteers in place working events to manage them effectively in the future. There were not enough people to man the gates, check for attendance, help with traffic flow and pedestrian flow, etc. at this event. Not enough people to volunteer for the event? Do we need to hire more paid personnel to aid management of the event? Do we need to rethink how to do the event?
Look at the candidates and their platforms, look at their experience, talk to them and see what they know about the business of the association and how it works. Business operations and the business of the neighborhood will be essential in the coming years in order to keep Timberwood Park and its awesome private park well cared for, maintained and solvent.
I’ve asked for your vote and will continue to ask. I have a wealth of information and experience when it comes to Timberwood Park having been the TPPOA President for 5 years during one of our biggest undertakings – turnover from the developer which ultimately gave us the ability to manage, maintain and control our assets and what we do with the funds we collect to manage our neighborhood. Couple that with my other community involvement during and after my board tenure on various committees and activities, my business experience and my desire for Timberwood Park to remain a great place to live and I am a candidate who will work hard for the best for Timberwood Park on your behalf!
If you’d like to visit directly with me, please don’t hesitate to send me a private message at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on the blog and I’ll respond there!