President’s Remarks: 13th Annual Rivers Edge Golf and Plantation Property Owners Meeting State of the Association

Today is a good time to remind ourselves that we transitioned just a little over two years ago to a property owners’ managed community. Our community has matured in many ways. Since the development started in 1997, trees have grown a lot taller, most of us are a lot greyer, or perhaps we have less hair, but we have a lot more friends and neighbors that we know we can rely upon in all kinds of ways. I will touch on three things about the state of our association.

Role of Volunteers

Management of the Association

Volunteers. First, we are a community of volunteers. We are electing two members of the Board today, but the five Board members are only the tip of the iceberg. We have 10 standing committees with a total of 59 committee members. Most of those committees also turn to still more volunteers to serve on temporary subcommittees for special efforts. Good examples of these additional volunteer services are:

  • the Transition Committee that worked effectively for more than a year before the first Board election to prepare the Association for turnover;
  • community members who volunteer as block captains to organize our hurricane preparation and clean-up efforts;
  • individuals who volunteer their skills for smaller maintenance and repair jobs.

Then we have people who volunteer to organize many social activities within the community, such as the pickle ball and tennis group, various card and other games groups, horseshoes, too many to name. I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that more than 100 property owners directly serve this community in both visible and invisible ways.

The Rivers Edge community is also a good citizen of Shallotte and Brunswick county. Volunteers help with tax preparation, with the literacy council, with veterans, with meals for people who need additional assistance, the First Tee program, service on the town’s Board of Alderman, the Mayor, the Economic Development Committee, the Planning Board, and many other activities too numerous to count.

Without the thousands of volunteer hours, the Property Owners Association could not function, the community would not be the same place where we love to live, and even the town and surrounding areas would be lessened. I know the other members of the Board join me in thanking all of you who provide immeasurable support to the community. I also urge more of the community to join in various ways. You will learn more about your neighbors, you will learn more about how the Property Owners Association works, and you will have major impacts on strengthening our community.

Managing the Association. Second, I will touch briefly on some of the more important, big picture ways that we manage the business of the Association. The Board and Committees of the Association are now much better informed by the priorities and preferences of property owners. In 2016, the Association conducted its first survey of all property owners. Individual one-on-one inputs are very important, but a survey to all owners also gave us a better basis for making decisions based on property owners’ views. A second survey is already in preparation for late Spring/early Summer this year, and we now have more capacity to reach almost all property owners in this next survey.

The major costs of managing and maintaining the common property are better informed by long term planning. In 2015, we contracted with an outside firm to evaluate all of the common areas and facilities and assist us in refining our capital budgeting for repairing and replacing aging infrastructure. That was augmented in 2017 by a further evaluation by a paving contractor of all our roads. That produced a long-term repaving plan for each segment of our roadways based on age and condition. A part of every year’s annual budget from the annual assessments is allocated to reserve or capital accounts to have the funds on hand for when a part of the infrastructure or a facility needs a major repair or reconstruction.

In addition to improvements in managing our major, capital expenses, I believe the Association’s day to day processes are improved in the past two years. Many practices we follow, such as elections and other votes, operating budget preparation and management, debt collection, committee organization and operation are now much more effectively managed and documented through By-Laws amendments, development and documentation of formal policies and procedures, and revision of rules and regulations affecting every day life in the community. An initiative is underway now to revise our procurement practices to ensure that we are getting the best buy when we contract out for major services such as landscaping and maintenance.

Like all the other work of the Association, it is the Committees that organize and carry out all of this work.

Future. Last, I will touch a little bit on the future.

Our community’s facilities have aged along with all of us. Some of our infrastructure and facilities are now 15 to 20 years old. We have had a few surprises in the past two or three years with some major repairs to River Hall, damage to sections of paved roads from high ground water levels, and failure of one of our storm drainage features causing regular street flooding. We believe we are better prepared with the infrastructure planning and budgeting improvements, but we know over the next decade we will be spending more on facilities and infrastructure replacement or repairs than we did in the first 20 years of our history.

We are about 25% to 35% built out. Almost all of the unimproved lots in the development have long since been purchased, some bought and resold. The developer has less than 20 individual lots for sale. There are some benefits to our present built out size, but our infrastructure and facilities will need a larger population base to support replacement and growth. The long-range planning committee has one of its major activities already on-going to assess our modest current rate of growth, and to consider what we as an Association can do to encourage more owners to make their residences here, or to facilitate resales to people interested in living here some day. We can use more ideas and involvement in this issue.

Conclusion. I started these remarks stressing the important role volunteers serve in both formal management of the Association and its business and informal support to the community. I conclude by noting that many of the current volunteers have served in their roles for a long time. We need to continue to enlist new volunteers who will serve as committee members, committee chairs and board members. I encourage all of you to consider ways that you may find both rewarding and challenging to participate in the formal and informal management and health of our community.