Brookshire Cluster General Assembly Minutes 2009
Brookshire Cluster’s 2009 Annual General Assembly was held at 7:30PM on Wednesday, March 5th 2009 in Jill and Aaron’s home, 15** Brookshire Ct. Listed below are the minutes and action items from the General Assembly. Just click on any link below to review sectional minutes:
Board of Directors:
(12 of 26 houses = 46%, quorum achieved).
Aaron called the meeting to order at 8PM.
Very sadly, Hollly and Brian are leaving Brookshire for North Carolina in Spring 09 which means Holly stepped down the Social Director position. Shari T and Amanda were nominated as the new co-shared Social Directors. Both accepted the nomination and were unanimously voted in as Social Directors.
The focus for the Social Update was a plan for the events in 2009. Upcoming events include:
1. First Friday of each month, at 6:30PM, we would gather for social chat. Suggested to move it to every two months starting
a. April 3rd
b. June 5th,
c. August 7th
d. October 2nd (may move to Halloween party).
2. Easter egg Hunt – Saturday, April 11th 9AM for prep, and 9:30AM for Egg hunt
3. Communal Yard Sale mid-May, advertising in local papers
4. Picnic – date tbd. Some discussion ensued about potentially renting the pavilion this year ($150 from Reston Org) to help with the picnic layout and setup.
5. Halloween Gathering – 30th Friday
6. Christmas party – date TBD
Very sadly, John F and his family have moved to Brussels which means that John stepped down from his long-term Landscape director role. Cathy F was nominated as the new Landscaping director role. She accepted and was voted unanimously to take over the Landscaping Director Role for Brookshire Cluster. On her notes, she mentioned
- Trees that are dying more quickly than they should in the neighborhood, in part due to floods followed by drought for the last two years.
- Reston Association calling about dead trees touching the pathway back by the tennis counts/volleyball area.
- We need shrubs to protect natural space and the back yard.
- Need to create a plan to create the natural wall between Moorings and grassy area.
- Area between Brookshire and Chatham colony was revamped. ***
- Get maps of Brookshire to identify boundaries between us, Volleyball/Tennis area and Chatham Colony
On looking to the future, Cathy outlined that she is pulling together a ‘Replacement Strategy’ to replace the missing trees/shrubbery and a general, ongoing to-do list for landscaping. Part of the to-do list includes replacing brush throughout the cluster: by Fire lane center of cluster, along path and on the front-right at the entrance to the cluster. Also included would be the continuation of the natural wall (rhododendrons) between the cluster green area and Moorings drive, re-design and plant front Garden, continue tree planting etc. Cathy recommends testing the PH balance of the soils and matching that with native plants best suited for the area.
Project Restoration of Wooded area
Cathy also addressed the strong concerns about the destructive activity in the woods between Brookshire Cluster and Chatham Colony. Chatham Colony had internally approved the replacement of the retaining wall for the sector of Chatham houses facing Brookshire. The team hired to correct and replace the retaining wall was a one-man team with a mini bulldozer that cleared a swatch through the brush, undergrowth and smaller trees in the wood-area. The clearing was to allow him to extend stabilizers from the new retaining wall x feet under the wood-area floor. In addition to the noise, wild habitat disturbance, removal of the natural privacy screen and other factors – Cathy and the board are very concerned with the potential destruction to the sensitive root system of the very old oak trees in that area, particularly since we’ve had a couple of bad weather years (floods followed by drought) in the last few years.
Cathy noted that we don’t know yet the extent of the damage to the older trees, and removal of the smaller trees, natural undergrowth and brush – saying it could set back natural tree replacement by ten years or more. Cathy noted that the cluster cleanup on April 18th could see us planting new trees and shrubs in that area. She and Ann agreed to contact Fairfax county to receive free seedlings, and to offer an option to cluster members to donate approved trees to the restorative cause for planting, maybe allowing folks to name the trees for a worthy cause or loved one.
General Landscape Updates:
- Spring cluster clean up was discussed and April 18th 9AM was discussed as the most appropriate date.
- Aaron mentioned that the hardwood mulch is again available from Reston Lion’s club Charity at $3.23 per 2 cubic foot bag. Members present signed up for their bags which are scheduled to be delivered April 11th. Anyone else needing a bag should contract Cathy or Mike H.
- There is a lot of sand left over from the snow day on the parking lot, normally the rains wash this away down the storm drains. The lack of rain this year has left the sand as a questionable open issue. If it doesn’t clear itself through rainstorms, we may have to help clear it. Since there is also salt with the sand, it can’t really be used to help aerate our clay soil.
- Fix Dominion Street lights. Mike to contact Dominion power and submit trouble ticket.
- Bradford Pear Tree Stapling in the center of the parking lot yet to be done to preserve that beautiful tree. Cathy and Ann to follow up with tree-company to complete the job.
Ann reviewed the actual costs for 2008 followed by the projected expenses for 2009.
Reviewing 2008 Actual Budget
In the process of discussing 2008 costs, Ann noted that Brookshire was slightly under budget for 2008. She covered the following expense reviews:
1. Ann noted that the landscape budget was a little lower than plan, and with John, approved the final tree removal contract before year-end ‘08. The 2008 actuals were $250 (8.3%) higher than budget. Cluster cleanup expenses were lower than budget since the roll-away dumpster has been replaced with the most cost effective Fairfax debris removal team.
2. Snow removal once again was budgeted - $648 - but no actual invoices were sent to Brookshire, hence no costs were paid out (under budget).
3. Trash costs jumped 23% from 2007 to 2008 due to two land-fill hikes and a new fuel surcharge bringing the average cost per house per month to $20.83 which was much higher that the budgeted amount.
4. Electricity went up $50 (8%) for the year, costing $52 per month in total.
5. Mosquito spraying had a 5% increase ($100) for the year.
6. Utility costs stable, capital costs stable
7. Overall costs have gone up over 3% for the year.
8. Overall actual to planned budget on track for 2008.
Cash: Ann noted that most houses are on time paying their dues and extra fees were also sent in by some houses that paid the year-up-front and didn’t take the $20 savings that went with it. Note: the option remains to save $20 for the year if you pay full fees ($880 vs. 4 x $225) upfront at the start of the year.
Proposed Budget for 2009:
Ann recommended that we try to cut costs where possible to improve the cluster’s cost structure for 2009. With this, her recommendations were:
1. Update budget process to reflect cost of living increases each year, so the 2009 numbers reflect a 3-5% increase.
2. Lower the Social Budget for 2009 and review with new Social Directors. New budget is $500, savings of $350, for communal events.
3. Re-negotiate and lower the trash budget. Deirdre negotiated new rate of $16 saving ~ $1,500 for ’09.
4. Review and re-negotiate Mosquito sprayings throughout the year. Ann renegotiated contract to to reduce the number of mosquito sprayings per year, ending in September vs. October. In effect, the sprayings are reduced from 9 to 6 sessions per year from $2290.5 to $1,590 (delta of $700, budget savings $500).
With the combined cost-cutting measures of ~$2,381, it was decided not to raise per household dues in 2009. Not raising the dues in 09 was put to the General Assembly for approval and was unanimously approved.
Increasing Capital Reserves:
Under discussion were the current capital reserve structure for Brookshire. Capital reserves are used for longer term projects required by the cluster, such as pavements, retaining walls, parking lot replacement and longer-term projects or big projects not covered by normal events. Currently, we put aside $3000 per year for a $15,000 capital reserve goal. Ann recommended that we increase the reserves both on an annual contribution as well as the capital reserve amount. Her proposal was to increase the annual contribution by 10% in the budget plus any additional funds left over at the end of the year. That increases the annual amount from $3,000 to $3,300 + interest + unused funds. The general assembly unanimously agreed to the proposed reserve fund increase.
Following the proposed increase was a discussion on long-term improvements we anticipate over the next 10 years.
- Repaving parts of the sidewalk is inevitable
- Re-surfacing the parking lot is due within the next year or two
- Potentially repairing the area between Brookshire and Chatham Colony, with big tree restoration
- Correcting the draining problem up by Cathy/Germain & AnnMarie/Mike & Cathy’s houses. May involve a complete site survey of the cluster with re-designing and installing the drains.
- Brookshire Cluster well-lit elegant and simple Entrance sign on the front-right as you drive in (okay, we didn’t discuss it live but methinks it deserves a place in the line up…)
- Others: Mike H will collect a long-term list of capital reserve projects for review and approval by the cluster over the next few years.
Board of Directors:
Aaron recapped the replacements already approved for the new 2009 Brookshire Cluster board for Social and Landscape directors. Aaron then went through the other nominations:
- President: Mike H was nominated for president, Aaron offered to step down as president and declined the nomination for president 2009. Aaron received much gratitude from the members for working as president since May 2006. Mike’s nomination for Brookshire Cluster President was put to a vote and unanimously approved by all members present.
- Finance: No nominations for a new Finance director were made. Ann agreed to stay on as Finance Director and was unanimously approved by all members present.
- Secretary: No nominations for a Secretary were made. Deirdre agreed to stay on as Secretary and was unanimously approved by all members present.
The meeting concluded at 10PM.