Leewood Homeowners Association
September 2002 Newsletter
Assessments are due 1 October!
Leewood Website by Judy Currier
Just in case you missed it, our new website is now up and serving Leewood. The address is: www.leewood.us. Along with the website we have a email list that you can join from the website (either go to the community section or the And More section). The list will allow us to communicate amongst ourselves, and is the only way to achieve near instant communication in Leewood unless you check the website daily.
The beginning message on the website was a welcome message that explained a little about the use of the site. I also wrote an article "Did you know – font sizes" explaining how fonts look different to each, and how to set your browsers. I did not realize until I got into doing this site how complex a subject fonts were but it turns out there is a flaming debate going on about it amongst the techies in web design.
I've now replaced the welcome message with one about parking, and a talking paper about parking. If you have not yet visited the site, do read the welcome message also. At the moment we have it linked into the "And More" section, and you would always be able to find it under News, Webnews. See how this is going to work? Things that are front page, will eventually meander into the webnews section, maybe making stops in other easier-to-locate places first. Within the welcome message we had a link to a history article – this one on Boot Hill. The plan is to write more of these as time goes on and eventually webnews will have a history category where you can read interesting tids and tads about Leewood.
One interesting suggestion that we received after the site was open was to have ideas on improving our homes in Leewood. This could be really fun. We will start out with the kitchen, but if you have any other areas that you find particularly useful, please contribute them also. I can either come over and take pictures with my camera, you could take a picture which I could scan in, or if you have it in digital form that would be great. Your house doesn't have to look like something out of a magazine – you might just have one area that you really like, and we can just use that section and cut out anything else. For example, when I first moved in my father built me a spice rack that hangs below the counters to the left of my sink (it turns the corner). I love that spice rack – it doesn't take up counter space and all my spices are out and handy for me to use. I plan to contribute a picture of that, carefully cutting out my ancient refrigerator that adds nothing to the looks of my kitchen. Anyhow, please contact me by phone or at firstname.lastname@example.org to help with this project. It does need your input to work, but could be so much fun and very useful to others.
Do come visit us at our website, explore the site, join our list, leave a message on our message board and tell us what you think!
Editors Note: This is a really wonderful site and a real resource to the community! It does raise a few questions (which can be discussed online at the site). Do we still need a paper newsletter or should we go electronic on the web site? Does everyone (or anyone) really have parking problems in Leewood? Meet me online to discuss these and other community questions.
President’s Message by Leona Taylor
We apologize for having to reschedule the July board meeting. We had too many board members away on travel or tied up with work. A lot was accomplished at the make-up meeting on July 23.
We have one homeowner assessment account at the attorney. A few additional accounts will be sent to the attorney if payment is not received immediately .
We are still checking references for the reserve study vendor.
The Virginia assembly passed legislation that affects the association. Here is a summary:
The POA resale packet may be provided electronically. The association will continue at this time to produce the packets on paper since there are many pieces that have to be included in the packet which are not currently available electronically.
The association can charge a rush fee for delivery of the resale packet. A rush fee is defined as providing the packet within three days of the request. The additional rush fee is $25. The association will continue its current practice of delivering the packets within the 14 days provided by law. If a “rush” packet is requested, we can charge the additional $25 if we can deliver the packet within the three days. However, due to the number of people who have to provide information for a packet and the potential that these individuals may be out of town or unavailable for those three days, we cannot guarantee three-day deliveries.
The settlement agent is required to send certain information to the association upon a home sale which includes the name of the seller, the name of the buyer, the address, the date of settlement, and description of any funds sent to the association pursuant to the settlement.
If authorized by the board, voting by members can be done electronically. The board will be looking into this option next year for the annual meeting.
The rule that requires the association to send notice of hearing results to owners within three business days of the hearing has been amended to allow for a seven-day period.
Associations are required to conduct a reserve study at least once every five years to determine the necessity and amount of reserves required to repair, replace, and restore capital components. Associations are required to review the results annually to determine whether reserves are sufficient. As previously communicated, the board has been working on obtaining a vendor for such a study.
The spring ARC walk-through was completed, and the results will be used to send out notices to owners.
The parking committee is working on educating Leewood owners and residents on the current parking rules and regulations for our community. The parking committee has distributed educational notices to residents on Bradgen Court that outline the current parking regulations for Leewood. A similar educational campaign will take place on Bradwood Court. Other streets will follow.
Cars leaking oil onto the streets have increased over the past year. As a result, you will (and probably are) seeing increased enforcement action to have cars that are leaking oil removed or repaired. A notice is being drafted which will be used to notify violators.
Our trash collection company has informed us that they are increasing our fees due to increased in the landfill rate charged to them. We did verify the increase with Fairfax County, so the company can increase our fees, as our contract with the company allows for such an increase.
Since Community Path will be discontinuing their website services, we are looking into other website providers. Judy Currier presented her research on alternatives to the board. The board authorized her to continue her research and select a website host provider. The board set parameters that up to $50 per month would be acceptable price for a hosting site considering that this would potentially provide service to the 195 units within Leewood.
As a follow up to the meeting, the ARC first notices were sent out at the end of July. Please complete the requested repairs. If you have any questions or do not agree with the notice, please contact Pam Stover. The board will be reviewing at the August meeting about 20 cases where second notices are due and will also be reviewing seven cases for potential hearing notices. So if you received any letters regarding ARC violation within the past year and have not completed the work, now is the time.
You should be receiving information on the new website for Leewood soon. It has many more capabilities and has also been designed for better navigation within the site. In addition, we expect to be adding e-mail capabilities in the future. We will still continue to use paper communications as well, so for those of you who do not have ready access to a computer, the same information available on the website will be available for you.
Crime and Safety in our Neighborhood by Pamela Stover
A while ago there was a good little article about crime and safety in the Washington Post. One of the things highlighted was burglary. I thought it was pretty good and wanted to bring some of the points they made regarding prevention to your attention as we take care of our neighborhood.
Lock all doors and windows, paying particular attention to areas not visible from the street. Burglars will find the weakest link to get into your home.
Keep shrubbery trimmed around doors and windows so shrubs and plantings will not provide any cover for burglars and give them time to get in to your home.
Hinged doors (like our front doors) should have a dead bolt with a one-inch throw going into the jam from the lock.
Beef up sliding door security by installing a vertical throw bolt or a lock that joins the panels together. Also, rest a full-length metal rod or wooden pole in the open interior track to block the door from sliding.
Keep front and rear lights on in the evening so there is no darkness around your entries. You can buy light sensor fixtures to install with your light bulbs that will go on in the evening at dusk and will go off in the am. All you have to do is leave your light switch on all the time and the sensor takes care of everything. Home Depot has them – just ask for them – they are inexpensive. Having a light on in front of your home also prevents damage and vandalism to your car, as these people like to operate in the dark.
- Install locks on your lower windows that are in addition to your traditional window closures. Home Depot has these also. When you leave for vacation, the idea is to create as many signs as possible that there is normal activity in the home. You can install light timers in different rooms (kitchen, living room and bedroom) to give the appearance that someone is in the house.
- Lock up – but don’t close up. Don’t leave the home looking as if it is vacant.
- Ask your neighbor to pick up newspapers and mail regularly while you are away so newspapers don’t pile upon your porch or in your yard.
- Watch out for any unusual behavior in front of your home and your neighbors home and report it if it looks suspicious. People looking to cause trouble don’t operate where they feel they are being noticed and watched. Burglars and vandals operate best in neighborhoods where people don’t care – so care about where you live and what goes on here.
Trees & Parking by Tony Mc Sorley
In a eight day snapshot survey done each morning at 4 AM as part of the parking committee, it was noted there were eighty (80) unused parking spaces on average night, out of a total of four hundred (400) available to the community . (Ideally planned for when built in the late 1970 as two per house with 10 spare.) Of the eighty unused, twenty seven were reserved spaces mostly under trees dropping acorns, bark, or sap with its numerous accompanying bee and hornet swarms. Community wide, there are approximately eight six (86) reserve spots under these "dirty trees".
One of the easiest, quickest and cost effective ways to provide more free parking spaces is to reallocate the eight six reserve spots now under dirty trees over at least one or two spots if those affected homeowners want it. The survey seems to show that many homeowners do not want to park under these dirty tree reserve spots, especially, with new and expensive cars. With just a can or two of paint, twenty bucks, Leewood can help relieve parking in some areas. In fact the board in this year's operational budget allocated funds to paint and remark all the parking spaces.
Other notable results were Leestone Court has the most available free nightly parking with 14 non reserve spaces open (17-3 reserve). While Bradgen Court (5-4 reserve) and Leestone Street (Upper) (3-2 reserve) each suffers with only one open space left. If Leestone Street(Upper) needs more parking, they could at least try parking more vehicles on Leestone Street (Middle) which showed 12 open spaces on average nightly. Bradgen Court only real relieve is in the reallocation of the 1970's planned parking layout. A saving grace to Leewood is the public street parking with both Braddock Mews Place and Bradwood Street showing fifteen (15) empty spots each nightly out of a possible twenty (20) for each.
The parking situation has raised a number of issues over the past year. There are concerns with households having more than two cars parked in the neighborhood on a regular basis. There are problems with cars leaking oil and damaging the parking surface. Additionally, we have certain areas where parking is scarcer due to the concentration of homes in those areas.
In response to this, we would like to concentrate our efforts over the next few months on parking issues. Therefore, we are looking for individuals who are interested in attending a few meetings to review our current parking regulations and develop recommendations to present to the board on the regulations. We have a parking committee that has looked at the issues over the past year, and we now want to bring closure to the work of this committee.
If you are interested in contributing to this work, please contact Chris Taylor, Al Sanford or Leona Taylor. We will then set up a meeting where we will review the current regulations; review the work completed to date by the committee; and discuss possible solutions.
Editor’s Note: For more information on parking check the new web site.
Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables at your friendly local farmers market at Mason District Park. The market is open every Thursday from 8:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. through November 7.
Looking for a Plumber??? by Pamela Stover
Consumer's Checkbook had a little article about plumbers this summer so I thought I would just list a few for you who rated high and worked in this area.
||Area they service
|David Foote Plumbing
|H and S Plumbing
||Fairfax and Louden County
||Fairfax County, Alexandria
How about Auto Body Work?
There were two places in the Virginia that rated very high in both Quality and Price for auto bodywork.
Martin Auto Body -- Herndon, VA 703-471-4185
Quality Auto Body -- Fairfax, VA 703-591-6090
SUBJECT: Excess Operating Funds Building Grand Edifices by Tony Mc Sorley - an opinion
A few years ago, the Leewood board decided the $27000 yearly reserve allocation, predominately, for street repair, was excessive and switched $5000 from the reserve fund into the operational budget as opposes to returning this excess to home-owners or lowering the assessments. Now, the President's August 2002 Newsletter message says the accumulated excess operational funds might go for unnamed future capital improvements located someplace in Leewood.
Instead of focusing on, as yet, unnamed and unknown future capital improvements, the "excess" operating funds should be but back where they came from, the reserve fund with its two and half year losses.
Proper accounting seems to have taken a back seat thoughout the financial world when you realize the Leewood's reserve fund has in the lass thirty two months declined approximately $17000. Our Schwab Vanguard mutual fund investment account return for 2000 was -8.7X, for 2001, -12% and this year, 2002, year to date, -19.3'1.. The most practical use these "excess operational" funds would be to return to basics principles and cover the shortage in the reserve fund first before some future undefined enhancement someplace in Leewood or after a reserve study for a couple of thousand dollars declares a stortage anc raises the assessment.
Why do we even have this type of unnamed capital improvement category. It just adds to the burden of assessments, about 57., for every homeowner. The existence of this ready money just leads to mischief later to assign it to some quickly passed and spent unwanted edifice probably by your house.
Note: The purpose of this fund was to protect our reserve fund from being used for any capital expenditures as then what we have in reserves would be somewhat meaningless. The "Edifices" built so far was the upgrade in the fence along Backlick Road, and the park bench put into "Boot Hill".
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