Friday, April 13, 2012

CA Board Recap: April 12, 2012 Board of Directors Meeting

Start Time: 7:30 pm
End Time: 10:35 pm (Followed by Closed Session)

This was a good meeting during which a lot was reviewed and accomplished.  Shari Zaret, Vice Chair, did a superb job keeping us on task and moving the Agenda along to meet time restrictions. 

Hobbit's Glen
We were presented with the final proposed plans for Hobbit's Glen last night.  This proposal consisted of two options: Renovation and New Clubhouse.  Surprisingly, the latter was only about $150,000 more than renovation, and seemed to be a Board favorite.

Under both plans, there would be a bifurcation of the clubhouse between spaces dedicated to golfers and those dedicated to our "restaurateur" (CoHo was not named during the nearly two hours of presentation and deliberation).  Locker rooms for golfers would also be introduced for both plans.  With room partitions and separate entrances, the new Hobbit's Glen would also provide meeting/event space, which is dearly needed in Columbia.

All total, both plans come in around $5.9 million.  There were additional proposals under the New Clubhouse option that would include a "Turn-House" between holes 9 and 10, which would offer snacks, beverages, and an outdoor lounging area.  We also were presented with a plan to reconfigure holes 1, 9, and 10 to improve the flow of the course.

These are all big plans, but I am confident that the Board is ready to move forward.  By my observation, there are two Board members that are very unlikely to vote for any improvement to Hobbit's Glen.  Before we getting into what has become an inevitable stage in big projects undertaken by the Board, I want to assure all of you that these improvements are not being done at "the expense" of any other amenity (i.e., pools).  I think there are certain segments of the community that under-play the significance of having well-maintained community golf courses as CA amenities, which has as much to do with stereotypes about "who plays golf" than it does about actual numbers in the CA Budget.

CA Agendas and Board Operations

By the paired suggestions of Staff and Board Members, the Board Operations Committee recommended a set of guidelines to enable more efficient and streamlined meetings.  These include Staff-originated Agendas, which is something I have been advocating for since about August.  Out of four proposals, two passed.  CA's oft-ridiculed "three-reading rule" almost made it to the chopping block, but received a last minute reprieve due to the fact that the to-be-edited policy was not attached to our materials.  For the uninitiated, the Board cannot pass anything until there have been three readings (i.e., three meetings in which the committee considering the item has discussed it).  In application, this puts a three month lag time on any item for which the Board has not suspended the rules.  The policy is mostly observed in the breach, wherein the Board spends 5-10 minutes discussing how we go about voting to suspend the rules, suspending the rules, and bringing the item to the full Board.

I probably should have recommended that you skip this part.

Aquatics Master Plan

We reviewed the policy guidelines that were approved by the Board last month.  Oakland Mills, seemingly at the recommendation of their Columbia Council member, recommended allowing Village Boards to have veto power on any decision by the Board to convert an outdoor pool to an indoor pool.  The sentiment of the Board was that this would set a very dangerous precedent and misrepresents the purpose of an Aquatics Master Plan and the relationship between CA and the Villages.  As I've said many times, this Board is extremely sensitive to public commentary, almost to a fault.  If Columbia needs an additional indoor pool, which I believe it does, we can't have an objecting Village prevent the Board from doing what is best for Columbia.

New Logo

When we arrived at the Board meeting yesterday, there were gift bags on every seat with instructions not to open until April 19.  I even had the added admonition "Not to blog about this" prior to April 19 (because I am 12).  Some Board members expressed their concern that the Board had not had the opportunity to "sign off on" the logo prior to its launch and that they would be blamed for any egregiously awful (ex. "purple dinosaur") logo for which they had no input.

During this part of the meeting, I could sense Staff's shoulders stiffen around the room as hundreds of thousands of dollars were put at risk over a Board sentiment that was never put in the form of Board action.  Giving the Board the final say on what would seem to be an operational issue was treacherous at best, and financially irresponsible at worst.

After some of the objecting Board members peaked in their bags and gave tacit approval, the objectors winnowed to one.  The Board moved on and the villagers cheered.

That was basically it for Thursday's meeting.  During our closed session we reviewed minutes of closed meetings, choosing to release some and keep others closed.  Overall, a good meeting.

Have a great Friday doing what you love!