The meeting was opened at 6:35 pm.
Treasurer: Rod Case
Reviewed the balance sheet from Feb 11 through Q4 of CY2013. Highlighted savings achieved in the past few years. Noted that we changed the CD investments to a flexible-income mutual fund investment with Charles Schwab. Receivables look good – still have 4-5 accounts that are behind, one of which has required legal action.
Reviewed budget, comparing 2013 plans to actuals. Also discussed 2014 planned expenses (to be detailed in the committee reports later). Savings in 2013, about $8,000, went into the roads fund for anticipated paving in the next few years.
Briefly reviewed overall expenditures for the water budget (the surplus is slowly dwindling).
Water: Evan Lurton
Similar report as previous years. Reviewed committee members and licensed operator. Showed progress of the Vault Upgrade Program (we were mandated to do this, no real choice – alternative is that our water permit will not be renewed).
Old 40-year old valves are removed and replaced with new valve with separate meters (don’t have to read them or bill according to them, but have to install them anyway). They do indicate who has a leaky line from the road up to the house.
So far, with the replacements done to date, only found a couple small leaks, which is encouraging (and what the state wants to hear). At this point, the state is happy with our progress.
Water quality continues to be excellent! Have passed all monthly and other tests. We’re one of the few communities that don’t have to add anything to our water.
December 2013: main pump motor start relay failed. Was able to fix the system and have it back up in a few hours.
Reminded the residents that we use the large bulletin board out by the main entrance to announce system shutdowns, maintenance and chlorine treatments, so please note any info posted there.
Encouraged everyone again to be mindful to try to minimize water use in the summer. The people at the top of the system will be affected more than anyone in the lower part of the community. Always best to water in the evenings and early mornings when evaporation is much less.
Showed pictures of a typical vault replacement project. Plan in 2014 is to finish the last couple houses on 162nd, and then start up the 162nd loop.
December breakdown got us thinking about the implications of a much more serious breakdown, such as a pump failing. Board made the decision to purchase backup equipment (main pump, motor, and controller). If we suffer a major breakdown, we’ll be prepared to get back up and running within 24 hours.
Starting to monitor the well depth more diligently, multiple times a month (recommended by Department of Health). We log our usage so we would notice if there is a leak (we’ll announce that on the bulletin board, if it occurs). Monitoring the depth is important to notice if our well is starting to dry up (not happening yet). We want to make sure that we spot any early indications that a problem might be imminent. No issues have been noticed to date.
Community Property: Marty Johnson
Things are fairly status quo. Biggest challenge is to find someone (a youth, probably) who can mow regularly – please let Marty know if you have a suggestion.
Website is still in use for any reservations.
Moles seen to come and go. Will work on that a bit this year (perhaps try out the “molenator” that consists of inserting a tube down the hole, injecting oxygen and propane, waiting a moment, sparking it, and the explosion kills the moles).
Roads: Terry Deschenes
Terry noted that we don’t currently plan any sizable paving projects until spring 2015.
Basically, the roads are a source of frustration because people in the neighborhood would prefer they are smoother. The committee’s focus is mainly to keep the roads stable (quickly repairing potholes to keep the roadbed solid), rather than working on smoothness. It’s VERY important for people to stay on the roadbed, especially out by the main entrance, so that the shoulders don’t get damaged.
It was suggested to Terry that Allied Waste and the US Post Office may be driving on the shoulder, so he’ll check with those people.
Repairs this past year focused on the cul-de-sac road coming down the hill, where there were 3 springs under the roadbed. New systems were installed to pull the water away from the roadbed and into the drainage ditches.
While there won’t be any major paving planned, we do know that we need to do some proper maintenance of the rights-of-way, so we’ll hire a contractor to come in and mow those. Residents will be informed in advance in case they want to take care of theirs themselves.
A resident asked for more attention on the loop road (especially where the cul-de-sac road comes down the hill). Terry confirmed this area is deeply rutted and it is a priority for the committee this year. The committee very much appreciates any input from any residents about areas of concern (also, people are welcome to come to the committee meetings or the board meetings).
Brendan again plans to do his annual work on the turtles and other road markings over Memorial Day weekend.
Tom Norton will be the new chair, now that Terry will be President in 2014. More people are needed on the Roads committee! (Incentive: if you fix 50 potholes, you get an official t-shirtJ)
Lakes: Bob Liebling
Main goal is to keep the lakes in good condition (considered the “greeting to our neighborhood” as people come past the main lake).
Showed pictures of the history of the lily pad situation on the main lake, going back to 2011. In 2012, we chemically treated the main lake to great success – showed an updated recent picture. Only one treatment was required in 2013. Will do one treatment in 2014, then will have to hold off for a year, per regulations.
Provided some background on the numbering of our lakes (going back to when they were dredged out in the ‘70s).
Showed pictures of some of the work we’ve done to protect trees and to remove cattails. Some cattails are removed, and some stay in order to provide habitat for the red-winged blackbirds. Treatment doesn’t seem to be needed every year.
The beavers really are everywhere, and if you remove them, new ones will show up. There used to be large 50-60 foot trees around the large lake, but most have been cut down by beavers. Now installing metal “cages” around the few remaining large trees.
When the beavers chop down the trees, they try to plug up the pipes enabling flow between the lakes. Our new pipe systems have successfully eliminated the sound of running water between the lakes (that sound tends to attract the beavers).
Activity has settled down lately; either the beavers have moved on, or they have called in reinforcements (nutria). The nutria can eat 25% of their body weight per day, so they can be very damaging. Will watch closely to see if they are too much of a pest. Haven’t seen signs of them much lately.
In 2013, we didn’t plant any trout. We do plan to do another planting of 450 trout in the next couple weeks. Expect to continue to do this every other year or so. The resident who used to run a fishing derby in May of each year has moved on. Fishing in our lakes is done on a catch-and-release basis.
The budget for 2014 is about $5,000, with about $4,500 scheduled so far for testing, beaver control, herbicide treatment and fish planting. In the main lake, for example, we dug out a huge amount of mud put in place by the beavers. Part of the budget is for a person with a large backhoe to come in and remove that mud. Fish planting will include trout and some carp.
Also plan to do some lake surveys in 2014 to document depths, plants and animals in the lakes. Over time, the lakes are filling up. Lake 2, for example, has filled in to a depth of about 18 inches over 30 years. Eventually, we’ll have to do dredging, which will require a lot of work and difficult permitting. In the next year or so, will have to do a meeting with the state to talk about how that work would be done (where to put the dredging material is one big question).
One alternative to dredging is to use a sewage pump which would be easier to get access to the lake, but there will still be the question of what to do with the material. Another option is to wait until mid-summer when the water level is down, temporarily dam/contain the water into a smaller area and then use a backhoe to remove the muck from the areas near the shore.
Will be posting requests for volunteers for all of this work this year J
Terry emphasize how valuable the lake work has been to our community the past few years!
Hospitality: Brendan Pecht
Welcomes new residents with a welcome kit. Highlighted the new residents in 2013 (and where they’re located).
Emergency Preparedness: Mark Anderson
Highlighted the zones within the neighborhood. Plan is to conduct a drill around Labor Day (aiming for a bit warmer time of year this year J). Reviewed the goals of the committee for 2014, including an overall emergency plan for Four Lakes.
Need a new zone captain for the red zone (Kristina A. moving). Kevin Bray volunteered. Will be verifying that all households in our community have seen the information.
Reviewed what we’ve learned from past drills (trees on power lines, water main breaks, knowing locations of emergency shutoffs at each home, making sure everyone has fire extinguishers, snow emergencies, etc.).
All residents encouraged to have a radio and fire extinguishers, and to let the committee know if they need any assistance during a weather-related situation or emergency.
Terry acknowledged our recent mail theft problems.
Terry asked if there is interest in getting locking mailboxes. Kevin Bray can offer them to the community at cost.
A couple residents have spoken to the Post Office. Our mail carrier commented that Four Lakes is the worst area she has seen. Regardless of whether we replace the mailboxes, it’s important for everyone to avoid leaving anything in the mailboxes overnight. We do have some information that at least one person on a bicycle may be involved. No one has formally filed a case with the Post Office yet.
Kevin Bray commented that a 9-unit box, including a parcel box, worked out to about $100 per house. It’s a good rural, secure, system.
Nina Hufford also found online an option for a 16-box system for about $1300.
We might also want to put all of the boxes in one location that would be more visible and could possibly have a single camera trained on them.
Regarding cost, we can leave it to each group of residents to address it for their area, or we can do it for everyone as a community. Total cost would be about $8,000 for the entire community.
We do know that some people have already invested in locking mailboxes, so for that reason, it would be good for the community overall to address the issue. Even the locking mailboxes have been broken into recently.
Evan Lurton commented that another community in Pine Lake invested in locking mailboxes for all residents, and their thefts ended immediately.
The audience engaged in a healthy conversation about whether to use Association funds for this. Also discussed whether to go to a gated community and whether to have the chairs of the committee speak with people in their areas to provide further info.
A straw vote was taken about whether to have the Association pay for boxes for all residents – results were mixed and didn’t provide a conclusive recommendation, mainly because people opposed simply didn’t want to repurpose funds from other committee areas.
Mark Anderson volunteered to have the Emergency Committee do further investigation, including getting a firm quote from Kevin about the needed mix of box quantities, speaking with the Post Office about whether any cost-sharing programs are available, investigating whether to do a stakeout, and putting together a specific proposal for the Association to consider.
It was also suggested to create a list of recommended services and contractors based on residents’ recommendations. We can create something on the web site or in the newsletter or on Facebook that would collect these recommendations and other general-interest topics, such as centralized propane buying or wood-pellet purchases. Maureen Sanders volunteered to create a private Facebook page for Four Lakes (https://www.facebook.com/groups/360936537382229/).
Terry Deschenes emphasized the importance of more residents participating in committees and projects within Four Lakes.
Three board members’ terms are up, and they have agreed to rerun for a 3-year term (Dave Prochaska, Bob Liebling, and Marty Johnson). It was moved and unanimously approved to re-elect those three residents.
For the open 2-year term, Brian Thompson volunteered and was approved.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:34 pm.
--Marc Sanders, secretary