Jack Stevens, Jim McCarthy, and Jim Ferguson were elected to the Board of Directors of the Seven Lakes West Landowners Association [SLWLA] Sunday afternoon, March 20, in balloting concluded during the Association's Annual Meeting.
Stevens, a semi-retired nurse anesthetist and active member of the Lake Auman Sports Club who moved to Seven Lakes West in 2006, was the top vote-getter, with 440 of the 586 votes cast.
McCarthy, who captured 417.5 votes, is a retired New York City Police detective who has lived in the community for three years. Community Manager Joan Frost explained that there are twelve lots in the community used strictly for septic fields -- septic lots -- and these are allowed only one-half vote.
Ferguson retired to Seven Lakes in 2009 after 23 years with the US Government Accountability Office; he attracted 411.5 votes.
Patti Cleary, a well-known community volunteer who has owned property in the community since 1997 and moved to Seven Lakes West in 2002, failed to win a seat, with 357.5 votes.
Turnout was light, with 36 percent of the 1638 qualified lots casting ballots. Frost explained that Seven Lakes West includes 1866 total lots; but 151 of these are developer lots with no vote, and 71 are more than thirty days behind in dues payments and thus are not qualified to vote.
Last year, with a controversial dues increase in the budget, nearly 1,000 Westsiders participated in the balloting. This year's budget easily passed, with 443 for, 133 against, and 19 abstentions.
The membership gave a standing ovation in appreciation of the service of the three retiring members of the Board: President Ron Shepard, Secretary Karen Milligan, and Legal Affairs Director Ed Silberhorn.
Top volunteers honored
Also during its Annual Meeting, SLWLA honored Betsy Mikula, Gerhard Hergenhahn, and Bud Sales as the first three recipients of the Joe Fellingham Community Service Award. Fellingham, who SLWLA Vice President John Hoffmann called one of the West Side's "pioneers," helped guide the Association as a Director, tireless volunteer, and long-range-planning visionary.
When the Board announced a "Wall of Honor" five years ago, to recognize truly exceptional service, Fellingham was the natural first recipient of the honor. But the magnitude of his contribution made it difficult to place others on the wall. This year's Board of Directors solved that conundrum by naming the award itself in Fellingham's honor.
The announcement of Sales, Hergenhahn, and Mikula as this year's recipients of the Fellingham award drew sustained applause from the membership.
President Shepard praised Mikula for single-handedly producing the Association newsletter for a number of years -- and for putting the Association on the World Wide Web when few in the community knew much about the internet.
A former Director and one of the architects of the merger of Westside Associations, Sales has served as Community Advocate in recent years.
Hergenhahn, Shepard said, "has been involved in every land planning activity in Seven Lakes West and in the County," in addition to having a vast knowledge of the Association's legal history.
"If Joe were here," Fran Fellingham told the recipients, "He would say, 'Thank you for all that you do.'"
"Most of you probably don't realize that this community has never really had a developer," Sales said,"someone with both the vision and money to put everything in place . . . Everything that has been done here has been done by people like Joe and all the other folks up here. So, get off your butts, folks, and help out."
Long Range Planning Survey
In other Annual Meeting business, Kathy Kirst of the Long Range Planning Committee presented topline results from the group's recent survey of landowners regarding project priorities. The survey provided significant detail regarding possible projects, such as road maintenance, the building of a new mailhouse, and beautification of the entrances, asking respondents to rate their importance on a nine-point scale.
Based on a weighted average of the 230 responses received, the 13 project areas were ranked in the following order of importance: Road Maintenance, Mail House Construction, Front Entrance Reconfiguration and Beautification, Johnson Point Expansion, Adding Amenities to the Dam, Enhancing the Ponds, Beautifying the East Gate, Establishing Walking Trails, Adding Amenities to West Side Park, Beautifying the Tower Area, Improving Communications with Message Boards or Reverse 911, Adding Amenities to Pine Island, and Adding Boat Storage Closer to Johnson Point.
In addition to the numeric ratings, Kirst said, many respondents offered suggestions and feedback in the proposed project areas. The Committee will mine that information as it works to make recommendations to the Board, she said.
The Committee plans to post the results of the survey on the Association website at sevenlakeswest.org.
Year in Review
President Shepard provided a quick overview of the year's work and accomplishments, highlighting a settlement with the Developer that resulted in the Association owning the front gate house and having full control over its architectural standards and variances for the first time.
Shepard said the dues increase implemented last Spring puts the Association on a firm financial footing, allowing it to accumulate the reserves needed for road repaving, mail house construction, and other projects. He noted that payments on the West Side Park mortgage have been accelerated and Treasurer has begun to develop a set of financial polices.
A three-year contract with management company CAS,Inc. was negotiated this year, and an extensive series of culvert rehabilitations was begun.
Shepard said his greatest disappointment in the year's work was that the mail house project was never taken off the Board's table because of the distraction created by the debates concerning the incorporation of Seven Lakes and the permanent closure of the roadway over Lake Auman Dam.
Shepard has agreed to serve as the Chair of this year's Nominating Committee.
The lone speaker in the public comment segment of the Annual meeting was Brent Nedenthal, a lakefront resident and father of a young family, who said the proposed changes to buoy placement and rules on Lake Auman present a significant safety concern. Nedenthal said the "transition zone" has separated fast moving ski traffic from very slow moving "no wake" traffic near bulkheads.
With the elimination of the "transition zone," in the new lake layout, he said. traffic that is moving slower -- but at greater than five miles per hour -- will be forced into the crowded ski area.