By Mary M. Sapp
Other activities these last few months included a very successful Pre-Fourth-of-July TGIF, the submission of four new/revised standards for DRB review, architectural inspections conducted by SCS (if you received a notice of violations, the deadline for addressing them to avoid being turned over to RA is September 23), and myriad maintenance projects (electrical work; treating the dock; and repairing retaining walls, rock walls, a fence, and benches in Triangle Park). The Board is currently considering whether to replace metal signs with more attractive HDU ones, using funds freed up due to savings in the cost of paving.
Lakeport’s Annual Meeting is September 28 via Zoom. Please submit your proxy for the meeting and also your vote on two proposed Bylaws amendments (we need 42 votes for them to pass; not submitting your ballot is the same as voting “no”). Lakeport is fortunate to have two great Board members continue on the Board and three talented new members join it.
In my previous Ripples messages, I’ve highlighted accomplishments in the previous quarter and alerted owners and residents to upcoming projects. Because I’ll be leaving the Board this fall, let me close with a reminder of what’s happened in the last five years I’ve served Lakeport as President.
- Community Building (a primary goal I had when I became president): Increased Lakeport-sponsored social events included TGIFs, a community-wide dock party, a Halloween parade with candy handed out by neighbors around fire pits, the Easter Egg Hunt, the Book Club, and a number of smaller “local” get-togethers of neighbors (including at the new gathering place at the foot of the Lakespray hill, progressive dinners, and driveway parties). Owners of six new homes were formally welcomed. Communications increased via a revived Ripples sent electronically, more frequent announcements, and timely responses to many individual emails from owners.
- Capital Projects: In the last five years, we have spent reserve funds to repave the streets, repair concrete, replace the dock, repair the bulkhead next to the dock, install biologs and landscaping where part of the old dock was removed to mitigate soil erosion along the shoreline, and add landscaping near the dock. We also used reserve funds for the following: replaced all the bollard lights beside the path (and added two more lights going down from the entrance for safety), replaced two timber retaining walls, arranged for interim paving in 2018 to remove three tripping hazards caused by tree roots, and commissioned the required five-year update of our reserve study. Because of this work, the good news is that after completing all of these projects, the Reserve Study shows only one (not very expensive) project in the next three years, and the current reserve balance alone is sufficient to fund scheduled Reserve projects for the next six years.
- Home Maintenance and Architectural Standards: We reinstated annual architectural inspections (except for last year because of Covid) so owners can avoid a long list of violations in a single year. Although no one wants to get these notices, they do help prevent further damage and more costly repairs in the future, and well-maintained homes help keep everyone’s property values high. In addition, we updated ten of Lakeport’s eleven architectural design standards (some several times) so that owners can use new products that make maintenance easier and to reduce the number of RA Design Review Board approvals needed to replace or repair part of a home.
- Landscaping Projects: New landscaping included the Kids’ Garden/Little Free Library; perennials at the entrance; bushes next to the Safeway wall; landscaping in several locations on Lakespray Way; native plants between the RA path to the pool and Sunrise Valley Drive; grasses, ferns, and junipers planted at other locations; storm-water mitigation; installation of new sections of fence; and a great deal of tree work to deal with our aging trees (plus new trees to replace live trees removed). Lakeport’s landscaping has also benefitted from contributions by volunteers during fall and spring workdays. Please plan on participating in these—they are a great way to meet people.
- Maintenance: Contractors and volunteers have made sure that our lights work; the dock was treated; roads, retaining walls, and railings were repaired; and mailboxes, signs, the dock, and doggie-bag containers were cleaned.
- Governance: The Board updated Lakeport’s Bylaws (twice) and Handbook (multiple times), approved resolutions and committee charters, created maintenance checklists and other owner resources, reorganized the website, and kept it up to date. Several committees were reactivated or started (Social, Neighborhood Watch, Maintenance, and Disaster Recovery). Submission of ballots and proxies using neighborhood “ballot boxes” in addition to email has helped increase participation in voting (please be sure to submit your vote on Bylaws amendments and your proxy).
- Operating Savings: In the interest of fiscal responsibility, the Board took advantage of the availability of outside revenue and instituted a variety of cost-saving measures. Outside funding was obtained from the County for the rain garden and conservation landscaping ($7,000) and for landscaping on the slope next to the RA path to the pool that was damaged during the construction of the sidewalk along Sunrise Valley Drive ($2820), and coir logs were donated by RA for shoreline restoration. Volunteers saved Lakeport thousands of dollars, especially for tree work, watering plants, and workday projects. In addition, the Board generated hundreds of dollars in refunds by monitoring financial reports on a regular basis. Fortunately, delinquencies in paying assessments have not been an issue, contrary to experiences of other HOAs (part of this is due to monthly follow-ups with owners who just forgot; so let me urge you to set up direct deposit so you don’t have to worry about writing a check—instructions are on the Residents tab on the website—and so Board members don’t need to contact you). The result is a strong financial situation, with around $30,000 in operating reserves (in addition to $68,000 in Replacement Reserves).
- Activities outside Lakeport are now being shared with the community (e.g., status of the Lake Thoreau pool, proposed changes to zoning and density in Reston, and changes at South Lakes Village).
All of these actions contributed to Lakeport’s being named 2019 “Community Association of the Year” by the Washington Metropolitan Chapter of Community Associations Institute (CAI) in the Small Community category, a designation that has been used by realtors to help with the sale of Lakeport homes in the past couple of years. It also affirms what we all know: that Lakeport is a special place to live.
None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the contributions of many wonderful owners and residents, in particular, current and former Board members and committee chairs, our irreplaceable webmaster Tom Barnett, and Ripples editor and counselor to the president Stephen Sapp. Serving as president has allowed me to get to know my neighbors better (the reason I joined the Board), learn a lot, and appreciate Lakeport more. Thank you for the opportunity.