Tweak the question.....The board meeting of First Colony Community Assn. (FCCA) was well attended this past week, something unusual for most homeowner’s associations. But FCCA is spending about $11 million in the neighborhoods in the next few years, and some of the residents are not happy with the plans for spending that money.
Several subdivisions have signed petitions about the plans and one, Edgewater, has even hired an attorney.
Residents who attended the meeting last week were concerned about the same things mentioned by the homeowners last month--mostly the closure of five pools.
At one point in the meeting, the board informed the crowd that no pools would be closed this year, although the amenities plan clearly calls for that time line.
And the amenities plan called for the pools that were closed to become “passive” parks, meaning, I presume, that the parks will be left as simply green space.
Most of the residents complained that closing the pools would affect their home values, that they were not properly informed of the closings, that the pools were one of the amenities they considered when buying a home here, and that the splash pads planned used too much water, were dangerous, and would become eyesores eventually. They also complained about the “dragon” statute planned for the Edgewater pool and splash pad. Also, complaints about overcrowding in the remaining pools if five pools were closed was also mentioned.
Residents said if some pools received little use, it was because they were not user friendly. They suggested more shade over part of the pools, and slides to entertain the kids, more picnic tables, etc. They also suggested more convenient pool hours which don’t change weekly.
One speaker pointed out that if he wanted a splash pad, he could have one in his own backyard with a sprinkler and garden hose. He received loud applause.
People were so angry, I felt empathy for the board members. They serve without renumeration with a large time commitment. Their only reward is making sure their neighborhood stays attractive. Most of the time, they only hear complaints.
During the time they hear comments from the audience, they have a good rule about keeping quiet themselves. There’s no point in getting into a back and forth fuss with the audience.
I applaud their desire to keep First Colony a premier neighborhood and keep constantly updating and refurbishing. We’re lucky to live in a community like that.
However, one thing I find disquieting is an item in the January 2009 agenda when this whole project was kicking off.
The item which caught my attention:
“S. Knoepfel discussed the process of the member survey and J. Walter clarified the process. The focus will be on amenities. S. Knoepfel will tweak some of the questions.”
Tweak the questions? I know that Ms Walter’s company (remember she is also a board member) is called “Creative Consumer Research,” but a polling company that is “creative” makes me a little nervous. Isn’t that sort of an oxymoron? Aren’t research companies supposed to be nothing but factual?
Now I remember Tom DeLay telling me years ago about “push polling.” It’s not exactly black and white. You ask a question and leave out some important part of the equation to get the answer you want. I guess now we know how they got the residents to say they wanted all those pools closed.
It would save a lot of money to close some of the pools, but money does not seem the motivating force here. You will always find a few residents who do not swim or have their own pool who don’t think that many pools are necessary.
In the final analysis, closing half the pools (there are 10 pools now, with five slated to close eventually), could cause overcrowding in the five pools left.
One thing several speakers addressed is that more people have signed the petition to keep the pools open than answered the original questionnaire.
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