As treasurer of the LLCOA, I want to start by addressing our current financial situation. The monies in our Lakeland checking account are almost entirely for our operating budget and a 15% contingency. That is $76,652 for the operating budget and another $11,500 for contingency. That equals $88,000. Currently, our checking account balance is $97,000. (This includes any savings we saw as a result of cancelling the picnic and the dinner dance..those monies are in that account.) To date, over one third of our members have yet to pay their 2020 dues. Although I expect most to pay by Nov 1, I think we need to consider that during this crazy time of quarantines and unemployment, there may be a large number of members who are unable to pay. Assuming most members do pay, no more than 10-15000$ of the money in the Lakeland checking account can be counted towards actual savings. That means we actually have only $200,000 in unencumbered funds. We can not consider the monies in the Provident Money Market account and the Live Oak CD as available for any improvements or emergencies. They are earmarked solely for the dam. As stated in the proposal, we may have some financial responsibility towards dam improvements. It is highly unlikely that the $310,000 saved so far will be enough and we may very well have to use other savings as well.
I am also concerned that the $66,000 figure in the proposal is too low. Although we have not gone out for bid as of yet, the committee did solicit two other estimates. Both were over $90,000. That is nearly half again as much as the lowest estimate, and none of them include expanding the concrete slab. According to the proposal, that expansion is estimated to be another $4000-$5000. We must consider that expense in this vote because the enlargement of the concrete slab will be a necessity. Once a pavilion is constructed the grass beneath it will die from lack of rain and sun and will be just dusty dirt or mud. So this is really, at the very least, a $70,000 project..but could be as high as $105,000. Even if we were to feel comfortable spending some of our $200,000 savings, and even at the lowest cost of $70,000, we are looking at spending 35% of our savings. As treasurer, I can not recommend spending that much of our savings on anything that is not an absolute necessity.
Liability and Fire insurance for the pavilion, (at $66,000) will cost just under $500 a year. Not needing to rent a tent for the picnic each year or holding our annual meeting there will net us very little savings. The tent cost $1340 and the cost of the church for the annual meeting is $100. Considering the $500 for insurance, our savings would only be $950 per year. At that rate it would take us over 70 years to pay for the pavilion. We wouldn’t save on any other rentals for events because we don’t do any other rentals for events. The dinner dance is not held at a rental space. It is held at a restaurant. We wouldn’t have the dinner dance in the field whether we have a pavilion or not. In addition to the insurance there will certainly be further costs for maintenance. and all the potential future modifications. We might even need additional portable toilets.
As a cabin owner I am wondering what kinds of community events and activities we want to add. (We definitely do not need more to be IRS compliant.) Isn’t the lake a place to get away from all the schedules and organized sports and classes and activities? For my family it is a time to be together as a family. It is a place where my kids used their imagination to entertain themselves. It is a respite from our “other world”. We do not need to be a summer camp to attract buyers to our small community. That is not what they are looking for and that is not what they expect. Maybe before proposing such a massive project we should have taken the time to survey the membership to see how we all feel. We could ask everyone if they want more activities and what kinds. We could even attempt to schedule some for next season and see if there is sufficient interest to continue with them and if a shelter is actually desired. Unless there’s inclement weather, none of the activities described in the proposal actually need a pavilion or concrete slab. And unless it is just a little light rain, the pavilion will not protect against getting wet. Yoga, for example, will certainly not happen on concrete.
Let’s picture what this would actually look like. This proposed structure would be huge…much larger than most cabins. At 40’ X 60’ it would be literally 3 times larger than the concrete slab that is there now. Nothing in the proposal speaks to the materials to be used or the finish that will be applied. Is it all wood, is there a metal roof, will it be painted or stained? How high is the roof? How imposing will this structure actually be?
My final concern is for the neighbors of Freddie’s Field and the cabins in the cove There is no room for parking at the field as this proposal suggests. The noise and traffic would be intolerable even if there are events or activities only every other weekend. The noise from the field is particularly loud in the cove. Adding a generator and lights would be even worse. We already have issues about too much noise and too much light pollution. I, for one, am not in favor of adding more. We would have to control use by individual members who might want to host private parties there. Our liability insurance would not cover that. It would be just one more thing to regulate.
This is, without a doubt, the worst time for us to even consider this. There is too much uncertainty about even being able to get together in large crowds and socialize by next season. There is too much financial uncertainty with high unemployment and possible additional shutdowns. I do not believe we should spend more than 1/3 of our savings for a project that will potentially cost us more down the road, is clearly not a necessity, will generate more noise and light pollution, and may be utilized more by individual members than as a community. I think we can all agree that, especially in this precarious time, it is unwise to spend that much on something we do not need.
Please vote no on the pavilion proposal.