BOARD BUZZ March 2021 by Mary Cheston, Director
Posted on Mar 1st, 2021
There is an Irish saying, “If you do your best, don’t mind the rest.” 90 days into serving on the Board of Directors and the firehose I have been drinking from has now reduced to a normal stream…that’s the good news. Then somehow a new blaze appears and the firehose can no longer reach it to help. So, this month I thought I would mimic the classic movie title and share “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” about 2021 so far for the NTRA.
- The Good: The Board has completed orientation training for all Directors and reviewed its insurance coverage in anticipation of a new contract later this year. At our February meeting, the Board adopted two new policies – a collection policy for delinquent assessments and a new policy on the transition of assets from the Developer to the Association. Under this policy, the NTRA will use both a neighborhood working group from the area being transitioned and an independent engineering firm to examine the final common area/asset’s condition. The Board has also approved funds to remove dead trees and replace certain street trees. This work should begin shortly.
- The Bad: We have a number of new Association expenses, including legal fees in order to provide the Board needed advice and engineering services to complete 1) James City County’s approval of new playground equipment and 2) the anticipated transition of two neighborhoods’ common areas from the Developer, New Town Associates, to the NTRA. Charlotte Park Section 7 (both Phase X and Roper Park) will be turned over in 2021. Charlotte Park’s remaining areas must pass final James City County inspection. Then the NTRA will have an independent engineering review to ensure that assets are being conveyed “in a condition acceptable to the Association” (per our Master Declaration) as outlined in the policy highlighted above.
The Board has clarified IRS rulings on what type of projects can be charged to replacement reserves and this may change some of our 2021 funding priorities. For example, although the Board approached the Developer about completing the unfinished removal of dead trees in Roper Park, we have been unsuccessful in reaching agreement for them to cover this $7,500 expense. So this is an unbudgeted operational item that we believe should have priority.
- The Ugly: Setting realistic expectations and understanding what can and cannot be done currently in New Town seems to be a never-ending task. Several homeowner concerns are tied to our governing documents which commit us to things that don’t seem logical and are expensive. But until we revise these documents as an Association-which is a multiyear process-there is little that can be done. For example,
- Maintenance of common areas like trails and BMPs: What seems like the premature shift of maintenance expenses to the Association for areas that are still owned by the Developer is actually required in our Master Declaration (Para 4.1). Once a feature is on a James City County plat, the NTRA is responsible for its maintenance. Remember that our governing documents were written to benefit the Developer.
- Managing Agent Contract: The NTRA is obligated to have the same Managing Agent as the New Town Commercial Association (NTCA) under the terms of the Shared Amenities Agreement adopted in 2015. Our contractor, Town Management LLC, must remain as our agent until this Agreement is amended (which is not in our 2021 workplan for document revisions) unless the NTRA wishes to abrogate its Agreement with the NTCA. Can we use the existing 2015 contract to improve performance or do we need a revised contract to set new expectations for our Managing Agent?
The other “ugly” news is that several Village Walk homeowners have experienced a series of roof leaks and water problems. The NTRA is responsible for the “repair, maintenance and replacement of roof shingles, sheathing, felt and flashing” in Village Walk, which is part of this neighborhood’s separate assessment fee. The number of these leaks is troubling. Forensic inspections are underway as we plan next steps. It behooves all Village Walk homeowners to inspect and clean their gutters, drains and collector boxes to be sure they are clear of debris. (See February Town Crier article “Best Practices for Roof Maintenance.”)
My message essentially is that your fellow homeowner Board of Directors is doing our best to balance community expectations and our fiduciary responsibilities. Stay informed, join in our Board meetings which are posted on the NTRA website calendar, and read minutes and other important NTRA communications. As the Irish also say, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass...it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Have a happy and healthy St. Patrick’s Day!
Comment By: John Marston
Posted on Mar 1, 2021
Thanks Mary for a clear explanation of the difficult and complex issues facing the new Board.
Last Edited: 03/01/2021 at 11:38 AM