TIME FOR A NEW LOOK – WEB PAGE REFRESH AND UPDATE!

As with all things in our ever changing fast moving technology driven world, there comes a need to update, renew and refresh. I’m pleased and excited to present the new look for the Timberwood Park web page and blog!

Just a quick note to all you subscribers in an effort to keep confusion to a minimum should you be visiting the blog or the website in the near future and think you may have hit the wrong page.

Please let me know what you think of the new platform and look of the neighborhood web page for Timberwood Park.

It’s still a work in progress and I need to upload a few more documents and other things, but we are well on our way to having a new, improved look.

Thanks for your patience while I get all the bugs with transferring the old site into the new format…..there might be a few little quirks here and there!

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?

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

                As I write this blog, I wonder what the property owners of Timberwood Park as a whole think about our current neighborhood business state-of-affairs.  What happened to the business of our neighborhood?

                Do you see maintenance and upkeep being done on a regular basis to maintain our current assets in and around the park?  Do you see any effort being done to refurnish the clubhouse for any property owner who might want to rent it for an event?  Do you see any effort to repair and maintain the existing clubhouse given the loan failure the board faced being unable to secure financing for the “I want” new clubhouse?  The existing clubhouse is continuing to deteriorate as NO maintenance is being performed. No money being spent for upkeep or to maintain it. It just continues to deteriorate under the lack of current care it is receiving.

The clubhouse which was slated to be demolished in January still stands due to the board’s inability to seek suitable financing choices and inability to secure a loan for a new clubhouse build which was never a need but a “want”. Whether it’s said that the financing institution chosen decided to change the terms or it’s said we were turned down for financing given our financial capabilities or lack thereof, We do not have the resources to handle this type of debt currently!!!

                It’s public knowledge that two board members were removed or asked to step down from office due to the number of lawsuits that have occurred under their watch.  Should these individuals still be serving in other capacities?

Take a look at https://search.bexar.org/Case/CaseSummary to see pages of lawsuits against our current HOA and its board.  Some of the cases listed are potentially about HOA matters like filings against property owners who are in arrears on assessments.  Of the cases listed there at least 14 which have been filed for matters OTHER than arrears assessments or delinquent taxes. 

At least one of these actions were partially the cause for the removal of two board members.  Because of the number of lawsuits filed against the current HOA and our board, our liability insurance and D&O insurance premiums have skyrocketed.  Why would it be acceptable for either of these two board members removed for cause as part of a settlement —  to still sit on any committees they wish to participate in?  At least one of the removed board members is currently still serving on the “clubhouse” committee overseeing what happens going forward.  Seriously?

                Property owners, it’s time to make it clear to the board that continued waste of our resources for a “proposed clubhouse build” is a waste of our resources!   It’s estimated that approximately $75,000.00 has been spent on wasted permitting fees, loan fees, appraisals, and other costs to get us a nothing in return for the proposed new build. 

Why can’t we start working on a remodel, or at least maintain what is currently falling into a state of disrepair?  Is the goal of this board to ensure with the continued deterioration that we need a “new” clubhouse?  Let’s hear from the property owners what they feel is the best plan forward given the failures thus far of this board.  What do you think should happen at this point?

                                Wouldn’t it be good business practice to remodel the existing clubhouse and move on rather than continue to waste our assessment dollars and saddle us with a huge debt for the next 10-20 years?  WE DO NOT HAVE THE FINANCIAL RESOURCES TO PAY THE DEBT SERVICE ON A $1.5 MILLION DOLLAR LOAN! 

                Please send your thoughts and comments back to this blog and let the board hear you!  We have a meeting coming up on June 18 – in our unmaintained clubhouse!  Come to the meeting!  Share your thoughts about the management done on your behalf by this board.  It’s your money!  Would you operate a business this way?

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!

BLANCO AT 1604 TRAFFIC CONGESTION

A property owner sent this link to me providing helpful information from the TxDot meeting held 3/28/19 regarding traffic congestion on Blanco at 1604. TxDot will create a Diverging Diamond Intersection (DDI) at this intersection.  Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2021 and will take 2 years to complete.  The cost is approximately 38 to 43 million and will be paid with state and federal funds.

Loop 1604 at FM2696 (Blanco Rd)

http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot/get-involved/sat/lp1604-at-fm2969-blanco/113017-presentation.pdf