Monday, February 4, 2013

How much input does your board solicit from the members prior to undertaking new projects?

There have been quite a few changes in my community over the last few months, most of which I had no idea were in the works. The first change I noticed entering my community one night was a brand-new 25-foot flagpole standing proudly at my community's entrance. While it looked nice, I wondered two things as I drove by it: how much did it cost and why was it necessary? While I personally like flags, I could see that some folks might not think that particular flagpole looked appealing in the spot that was chosen. Soon enough though, I forgot about the flagpole entirely and never sought answers to my questions.

The next change that became apparent were new video cameras at the guard house entrance, four in total. I remember during my time on the board several years earlier that adding these cameras had been discussed but nothing had been done since then. I remember thinking as I drove by these new electronic eyes capturing me on film "Good for Sam, he finally saw this project through to completion." About a quarter of a mile past them, I followed that thought with the follow-up questions of how much they cost and how were these cameras to be maintained, utilized, etc.

The third change that caught my eye was the fact that guests' driver licenses were now being scanned in by the guard, something that had never been done before. How did I catch wind of this change? I saw cars stacked up five and six-deep at our entrance when we've never had more than two in a queue before. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that we can now receive text messages advising us when someone visits the community which is always helpful to ensure the lawn guy shows up as planned or to keep tabs on a teenage daughter.

The last change that took me by surprise was the fact that our community was allowing itself to serve as a sales center for a neighboring development going up. While this development has no connection with ours, apparently the private country club in my community wanted to be helpful and allow this activity inside our gates. Naturally, that may or may not be appropriate depending on one's perspective as a member of the HOA and not the club who pays for security each month.

Why didn't I know about any of these significant changes in my community? Well, perhaps missing board meetings played a significant role but we also have a newsletter and an association website which reveal these projects after they are adopted and funded. Had I known that some of these items would be discussed ahead of time, I might just have made it to that meeting. I wonder how many boards use these kinds of communication portals to take straw poll votes on which projects deserve priority attention and funding prior to heading off down those paths without such input.

Naturally, there is a certain amount of danger and frustration in trying to please everyone and waiting around for consensus isn't going to help many worthwhile projects become realities. Overall, I am pleased with most but not all of the changes that took place recently. Would my knowing about them before the fact have changed the outcome? Maybe not but I probably would have avoided driving off the road a time or two in astonishment.

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