Category Archives: General Information

GROUNDS THOUGHTS

There have been some concerns regarding the quality of services provided by the current Grounds Contractor, and I wanted to address those in a little detail. While there are certainly a few issues that can be a little annoying, overall, we are getting a TON of work for what we’re paying.

First, during the growing season this year the current contractor mowed all the common areas per the contract – including the walking trail. The trail alone is a little over a mile of mowing. While the hedges have been an issue to one degree or another all year, it must be noted that the previous contractor did not maintain them to a reasonable height, and did not trim them at all at the end of the year. This year, the current contractor did trim the hedges mid-year, but they grew faster than expected and needed trimming again within a few weeks. There is only provision for trimming the hedges twice a year, and for the second trimming, this contractor offered to radically trim them so that they would be easier to maintain and look better next spring. He did not charge any extra for this – and as you can see, this is taking a significant amount of time.

Regarding the cost of the overall Grounds Contact – here are some figures to consider:

Class A – the previous contractor – was paid $16,740.00/yr, or $1,396.00/mo. For that, they mowed the common areas, trimmed the hedges the first year (not the second), and spread fertilizer and seed in the fall and pre-emergent in the spring. They refused to remove the weeds from the hedges, and as a result, the vines and poison ivy growing in the hedges has been virtually impossible to get under control.

Last year Class A refused to bid on the Grounds contract, likely because the Board was paying close attention to the details of the contract. So 2 bids were received for the grounds work this year .

AMP Lawn Care submitted a bid for $41,000.00. That’s no typo – $41,000.00. That would include mowing the common areas (including the Walking trail), and maintaining the plating strip (Hedges, weeds, fertilizer, leaf removal)

Matt’s Lawn Care submitted a bid for $15,250.00. That bid included everything we asked for – mowing the common area including the Walking trail, trimming the hedges, mulch, weed removal, seed and fertilizer, pre-emergent, aeration, leaf removal, edging the sidewalk and blowing the grass out of the road. Obviously we selected Matt’s Lawn Care.

I’d like to break that down a little further just to illustrate what we are paying for the Grounds contract …

Matt has 2 guys that work for him in our neighborhood, and Matt is here with them when they work on our grounds. On average, his team has been spending about a day and a half per week working on our grounds. For a 3 man team, that’s about 36 man-hours per week, for estimating purposes, or 1,872 hours per year. That’s about $8.00 and hour. That does not include the cost of equipment, travel time, vehicle wear & tear, etc. So I really have no idea how he’s making any money on this job.

With these thoughts in mind, let’s take a fresh look at the grounds activities, and consider it from this perspective:

  • The current budget anticipates a grounds contract of $18,000.00 for 2018. That includes more mowing than this year, since the Hennington cul-de-sacs are now included. That is the amount that is included in the $295.00 assessment.
  • There are 226 houses, in the neighborhood contributing to the annual expenses. As such, every increase of $1,100.00 is a $5.00 increase in the assessment.
  • Splitting the difference between the high and low bids from last year would give us a likely grounds maintenance cost of around $28,000.00, or $10,000.00 more than we have budgeted.
  • We can certainly entertain the idea of looking for a different grounds contractor, however, doing so is likely to have an associated Special assessment of about 45$ this year, and then a higher annual assessment beginning in 2019. (+/-$340.00)

In any case, I think the more everyone talks about this type of thing the better – we all live here, all of our opinions count the same, and we need everyone’s input to be able to make the best decisions for the Community. Please continue to make comments on things in the neighborhood that concern you, nothing is out of line and we want to hear from you. Very soon we’ll be able to share these opinions with each other on our new community website. Keep contributing your ideas!!!

Wade

THE HEDGES

While I’m thinking about the grounds, I want to take a minute to talk about the hedges along Cedar Grove Way.

As many of you know, we’ve discussed the need to trim the hedges several times over the last several months. Earlier this year, the hedges were way out of control, and the grounds contractor came through and trimmed them. By the time he had finished, they were almost as bad as when he had started because they grew so fast. There have been a number of complaints about the hedges not being trimmed sufficiently, and not enough. So after careful consideration and discussions with the Grounds committee as well as the managing agent and the grounds contractor, it was decided to have the hedges cut severely, to 4′. I want to make a point of stating that the contractor was obligated to trim the hedges twice this year, but not to cut them. He’s doing this at no additional charge to the community – and this is a VERY difficult process. The contractor from last year – Class A – allowed the hedges to get to the height they are at now – and we were paying them about 500$ a month more than the current contractor. Class A also refused to remove the poison ivy and other weeds from the hedges, even though they were under contract to do so. The contractor this year, however, has done everything we have asked of him, and at a very good price. I didn’t use the word “fair” because I really don’t know how he’s making money doing it.

As for how it looks – well, yeah, it looks terrible right now. No one is disputing that. Yes, the difference in privacy to the corner lots along Cedar Grove Way is stark. We expected that. However, this kind of hedge needs to be trimmed severely on occasion, especially when they get as tall as they have. I asked one of the resident grounds professionals about it before we awarded the new contract, and he said the best thing to do would be to cut them all down to the ground and let them grow back. That way, they would be healthier, and we could also remove all the poison ivy and other vines and weeds easily. Now THAT would have been an aesthetic shocker. If you walk to the end of the hedge row, near Nasselle, however, you’ll see that in just a few weeks time, in the fall no less, there is lots of new growth already on the bushes that were cut first. So the hedges WILL grow back, and they will be prettier than ever.

Also, as I’m sure you you’ve seen, the hedges are very wide. Consider how they would look if we had asked the grounds guys to cut both the height and width at the same time. If you think they look bad now, then imagine what they would have looked like with NO leaves remaining.

Long and short here, I’m asking that you take a long view of the aesthetics. When you ride by, or when you look out your window, and think “WOW those hedges look awful,” try to imagine how nice they will look around May of next year.

Annual Meeting October 23

Our annual Association meeting is coming up on October 23, 2017 and will be at North Park Libary and not Glen Allen as the mailer says.  This is the meeting where we review the year and elect the next year’s board members. It is vital that we have a quorum to hold elections and vote on community business.  This means we need homeowners to show up in person or submit their proxies before the meeting if they cannot make it.

Also if you are planning on nominating yourself for the board, make sure you get your nomination form filled in, signed and submitted by the deadline so that ballots can be created for the meeting.

Hope to see you all at the meeting and just wanted to get this out early to make sure noone goes to the wrong library. The signs will be up as well with the correct address.

 

Mike

President of the CGHOA Board.

PRETTIEST YARDS

As many of you know, I walk just about everyday. It’s been great for my health and energy level, and I get the extra bonus of meeting my neighbors and talking to them regularly.

I’ve noticed a number of really nice yards in my walks, and I’ve been meaning to share a view or 2 of what I think are great yards for a while. Before I post anything here or online, I want to make sure the resident is ok with that, so while I have every intent of sharing, I tend to forget that intent about 5 minutes further into my walk.  Sorry.

HOWEVER, today I was walking, and I noticed a yard once again that has consistently been to me the epitome of the perfectly kept yard – and I finally thought to get permission from the resident this time to post a picture of their yard, and here it is…

Not too long ago I posted another blog here talking about lawn maintenance in general. In that post, one of the things I talked about doing was calling out the best yards periodically.  We haven’t officially started that, so this is just a Wade’s 2 cents comment – I always notice how nice this yard looks.  There are several yards that are way above average in our neighborhood – and I’ll call them out soon too.  But this one always catches my eye.

On the news & notices side, we have a 4 member Grounds Committee currently, and we’re starting to put together some ideas on general maintenance expectations. One of the things that the Board is responsible for is making sure that the neighborhood complies with the Declarations.  The Board relies on the Grounds committee to work with contractors and neighbors to make sure that the common areas as well as other visible areas of the neighborhood are all maintained to a reasonably attractive standard. When you have a chance, take a look at my previous post on Lawn Care.

As we get closer to the fall, I’ll be sharing more information on things we’re planning to do to help with problem yards. One of the easiest things to do, regardless of the content of your lawn, is to keep it mowed weekly.  No matter how many weeds or how little grass there is, if it’s short, it’s not all that bad.

Keep waving!

Wade

NATURE STUFF

So I’m walking along the trail this evening around 7:30 or so, maybe 8:00, and I’m thinking it would be cool to see a snake or something. Some of you will recall that on the neighborhood cleanup day we saw a good size black snake crossing the trail at the end of Cedar Grove on his way to the creek. That was cool.

Yesterday I was almost back home and I saw a baby rabbit run across the trail and into the woods. Cute, but not very fulfilling. I’m thinking “there’s got to be something out here – I’ve heard people say they’ve seen deer in their yards – they’ve got to live in these woods somewhere… why can’t I ever see them?” The other day I heard something in the woods, but it could have been anything. Sometimes I’ll be walking along enjoying the woodsy – honey suckle smells, and then get a whiff of something that smells like, a skunk. I doubt it’s a skunk, and I know there are foxes out there because every now and then when I’m outside sitting by the fire I’ll here what sounds like the blood-curling scream of someone being eaten in the woods. That kind of freaked me out the first time I heard it, but after doing some research I found that a fox makes that sound when it’s mating.

(Which is kinda messed up.)(Really — check this out …)

Anyway – I’m walking the trail this evening and as I’m thinking these thoughts, a deer jumps out of the bushes on the left side of the trail and bounds across the trail into the woods on the right and was gone. It scared the crap out of me. But it was SO COOL! I yanked my phone out of my pocked to try and get a picture, but that was stupid because it was already gone. I did, however, get a picture of deer tracks

–maybe that one, maybe not. So now every time I walk the trail I’ll be looking for deer. I’ll probably never see another one.

I also got a picture of the baby geese this evening!

At least I’ll have something to remember them after the hawks and owls have eaten them all this year.

(Too Much?)

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the trail! They mowed it today!