“Gee, our mailbox post is really looking sad, we need to paint it”, I said to my husband, Ric about 2 months ago. “Not my problem” he replied, and to my surprise he was right.
As of the April 18 Board of Directors meeting, the official mailbox maintenance policy is that New Town homeowners are responsible for the box itself – in cases of rust or damage, the homeowner must repair or replace it (except for Village Walk where the metal community boxes are association-maintained). However, the NTRA will now formally maintain all posts. Currently, there is a backlog of about 100 mailbox posts that need painting.
History of Mailboxes in New Town
Mailbox maintenance has taken a winding policy path in New Town. The NTRA Declaration’s protective covenants state that only mailboxes and newspaper tubes approved by the Architectural Review Committee (ARC) are permitted to be used in New Town, and that the ARC may adopt specific criteria that vary by neighborhood. (Article VII, Section 7.1 (z))
In March 2011 the NTRA ARC submitted specifications to the Board of Directors for the first “Standard Mailboxes” in New Town. “The cost of the repair/and or replacement are to be borne by the users of the mailboxes, even if these are not located on their property.” Where multiple mailboxes are involved, each user was expected to pay their share of the repairs/replacements. The Board approved these specifications to be provided to existing and future builders.
Subsequently, in 2013 the Board of Directors reviewed the policy based on a few complaints about the condition of mailboxes and continued the practice that maintenance of residential mailboxes is the responsibility of the property owners. The ARC started some surveying of mailboxes in disrepair to notify owners of the need for improvements. However, by June 2014 it was clear that shared mailboxes were dilapidated and Town Management agreed with the Board to repair damaged mailboxes “on a prioritized basis.” Mailbox maintenance first became a line item in the NTRA budget for 2015.
With the growth of New Town, there are now at least three different types of mailboxes: single home post mailboxes, double mailboxes (2 boxes sharing a common post), and cluster mailboxes (3 or more boxes in a group) – such as the boxes at Village Walk and Roper Park-where multiple mailboxes are grouped together. The reality is that current funding allows Town Management to pay for repainting only about 55 mailboxes a year, according to Community Manager Tim Grueter, and there will ultimately be about 620 homes in our community. This puts Town Management in the position of determining which mailboxes are in the poorest condition.
Since the NTRA had assumed some responsibility for repairing mailboxes, they were not included in the 2017 home inspection and exterior maintenance policy. At its January 2019 meeting, the Residential Advisory Board (RAB) discussed how to practically resolve this issue and how to handle it under future home inspections. The RAB requested to include an inspection item for the mailboxes, but there were varying opinions from the Board of Directors on how to correct existing deficiencies. So, no final decision was reached until the April meeting.
Under the new policy, home inspections will include mailboxes and this report will serve as the basis for painting/repair. The Asset Maintenance Committee will oversee implementation of the new policy. So Ric, thanks for putting this on your “honey do” list and painting our post anyway. Next time, you can take the afternoon off!