A Morning Stroll Through The Cloister


Many mornings I ride my scooter through The Cloister thanks to the speed bumps that were removed and the pathway, along the curbside, through the existing speed bumps.

I am sometimes passed by the speedy walkers that flash by during their morning walk. There are always several dog walkers carrying their plastic doggy bags like all good neighbors should do.

And the morning coolness brings out the wonderful gardeners who treat us all with their beautiful flower gardens and well tended shrubbery.

A neighborhood priest living in The Cloister can sometimes be spotted as he walks down his driveway to pick up his morning newspaper.

Several mornings ago I greeted four nuns from the St Cecelia Convent, located in North Nashville, as they exited a car to visit a Cloister neighbor and mother of one of the nuns.

Beautiful Dominican Motherhouse Tour

I hope everyone is as grateful as I am that we live in such a beautiful community.

 

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The Cloister as A Business Operation


In early years management and bookkeeping for the Cloister at St Henry facility was simple, collect HOA monthly fees, pay bills relating to ongoing operations and pay the monthly Comcast fee.

But now we have two categories of expenditures, routine operating expenses and capital expenses(such as new roofs, street repaving, retaining walls and other repairs to our infrastructure) This leaves us with challenges in budgeting, and supervision and monitoring of outside contractors.

The value to The Cloister property is approaching Fifty Million Dollars ($50,000,000.00) The property was developed in 1984, some buildings are 32 years old with the newest building built 25 years ago. Original Cloister homeowners did not face expensive maintenance and repair projects  such as roof replacement, street paving,  and exterior repair and painting during the first 10 years of the life of the Cloister complex. Thus we relied upon unpaid volunteers from among residents.

Initially a small group of, sometimes reluctant, mostly inexperienced volunteers formed the Architectural Review and Maintenance Committee to manage the simple housekeeping matters. We have reached a critical point in  budgeting with management of large infrastructure maintenance and repair projects like jacking up and supporting an entire Cloister Condo building, replacing sunken driveways, rebuilding walls, and maintaining the storm water drainage system.

We home owners have been hit with huge monthly HOA fee increases. Yet we assume that management of this major facility can still be conducted with unpaid volunteers on what we call the ARMS Committee.

We are sadly mistaken……

ConstructionManagement

It is time that we reduce the responsibilities of the ARMS Committee and hire on-site management and monitoring for our large, expensive infrastructure repair and maintenance projects and capital spending. Or should we idly stand by while the ARMS committee attempt to manage a $50 million dollar facility and a one million dollar per year budget?

Why I Like The Cloister Better Than Ashley Green


Before Rochford Construction finished the last few units in The Cloister they began construction in Ashley Green, a similar development in Bellevue behind the old Bellevue Library and the Fire station. Bonney and I spent considerable time looking at various condos in Ashley Green.

We discovered serious problems with some units in Ashley Green.

screenhouseOne Ashley Green owner had a modular screen porch put up in the back. The porch had been built directly on the dirt ground. The floor was rickety and would wobble when we walked on it through the rear door.. Arggggh!

Several Ashley Green units had cheap and shabby awnings over windows and entryways that made the entire area look like a worn out slum. We decided  that Ashley Green was neither a good investment nor a good place to live.awning

Altho it appears that we at The Cloister are subject to excessive control over what we can to around the exterior of our buildings……that control has resulted in a very attractive community.

I am concerned that one of the Cloister homes has a blue fabric awning over their entrance. Why didn’t they put something up consistent with the quality and architectural style of the homes at The Cloister?

Can this be the start of the deterioration of our community?

Why I Don’t Attend Cloister HOA Board Meetings


Cloister residents have asked why I don’t attend HOA Board meetings. There are three reasons….

  1. The Board does not tell us in advance what will be covered during the upcoming HOA board meeting.
  2. As the result  residents don’t have the opportunity to comment on the agenda items.
  3. Residents don’t have the opportunity to comment on an issue prior to a vote by the board.

What should be done

Board to Provide a Published Agenda Several Days Prior to HOA Board Meeting

Board to allow an Open Forum at Beginning of Each HOA Board Meeting

Although the law may not require the board to provide an open forum for the unit owners to speak about their concerns, it is the custom and practice of most associations.

Strict time limitations should be imposed by the board (subject to the requirements of applicable law) and these limitations must be enforced. Each unit owner should address the Chair and must speak courteously and to the point.

Board members may question the unit owner about the problem or concern. Other unit owners are not entitled to be recognized or to comment or question the speaker, except with the permission of the board..

Once the open forum period is closed, the unit owners are not allowed to participate and may not seek to be recognized unless the board specifically requests input or information from a particular unit owner. This restriction must be strictly enforced because the purpose of the board meeting is for the board members to conduct business and this cannot be done if there is interference from the unit owners. All disruptions by unit owners must be addressed by the Chair and repeated violators must be removed from the meeting.

Allow Opportunity for Resident Comment Immediately Prior to a Vote on an Issue

A unit owner or a guest may be recognized to speak only if a board member wishes to obtain input from a unit owner and the board agrees. When possible, allowing a unit owner to participate in the deliberations should be done by acquiescence of all board members. Formal voting on the question is only necessary where it appears to the Chair that there is a disagreement.

About Cloister HOA Board Member Elections


Each year for the years I have lived here, “The Cloister News” would give residents a list of persons running for seats on The Cloister HOA Board of Directors. vote UndecidedEach candidate would tell us such information like where they were born and raised, what schools they went to, and where they worked and what they did at work. But they seldom told us how they  would vote on such matters like HOA fee increases, what they would do to get more resident participation at board meetings, how they would make meetings more open. This does not allow us the opportunity to determine what they stand for before they get on the Board. Perhaps we ought to ask each candidate to offer a detailed platform as part of their statement concerning why he/she wants to be on the Board. Vague statements  do not allow us the opportunity to take an informed decision.

'We're a democracy here, as long as everyone votes in favour of what I want!'

Our Good Neighbor…St Henry Catholic Church


StHenry2.jpgSunday, during one of my frequent morning scooter rides around the Cloister neighborhood, I turned down the footpath between 414 and 416 Siena Drive. This old concrete walking path looked like it had been here for decades, the stippled surface of the path was partially protected by sections of a warn and partially rusted painted handrail. This path led directly to St Henry Catholic Church.

I turned left at the end of the walkway and watched the valet parkers pulling away cars that picked up and delivered older members with their walkers to the side entrance to the church dedicated to these parishioners. This was for the 11:00 am Service.

I myself entered through the handicapped entrance past a large room with hundreds of people enjoying coffee and donuts, served after the 9:00 am service, while the room was filled with sounds of children playing in the open areas. I rode by the small chapel, as large as some churches I have visited, into one of the most beautiful catholic churches I have seen in the US; Not as colorful as the Eastern Orthodox churches in Europe and on the East Coast but nearly as imposing as some of the smaller cathedrals of Spain and Italy.

St Henry Church Hwy 70, Nashville, TN

St Henry Church Hwy 70, Nashville, TN

A number of years ago my son joined the Catholic Church. I asked him why? (Since none of the family are Catholic) His perfect answer was “Because going to church makes me feel good.” On Sunday ……I felt GOOD

Cloister Speed Bump Additions Will Cause Problems


I was disturbed when I read the August “The Cloister News” that the HOA Board has decided to add more speed bumps to our streets and to extend speed bumps at stop signs.

Here is why……;

A speed bump is mainly used in parking lots in selected places where the intention is to slow traffic to a near stop whereas a speed hump is used on streets to prevent speeding above the speed limit (usually 15 or 20 or 25 mph)

The speed limit at The Cloister is 15 mph but if anyone drove over a Cloister speed bump at 15 MPH their car would go flying and probably break part of the undercarriage of their car. So most private streets will usually use speed humps and leave the speed bumps for the Kroger parking lot.

A  speed bump like used at The Cloister. Some residents drive around them to reduce daily wear and tear on their cars.

A speed bump like used at The Cloister. Some residents drive around them to reduce daily wear and tear on their cars.

Traffic proceeds slowly in areas where speed bumps are placed.

They are typically intended for front of store or school entrances, parking lots, at pedestrian crossings, garages and near stop sign locations.

Speed humps offer softer intrusion. Traffic normally remains moving but at around 10 -15 mph.

They are better suited for high traffic areas, entrances from major roads and areas experiencing speeders..

A speed hump used on streets to reduce speeding.

A speed hump used on streets to reduce speeding.

.Speed Hump Layout
.I would suggest a layout as in the picture below

Speed humps with a bicycle path for  dog walkers, morning walkers, bicyclers and wheelchairs

Speed humps with a bicycle path for dog walkers, morning walkers, bicyclers and wheelchairs

.Has anyone considered that:

  • A speed bump across the entire road may dam the streets and cause flooding? Water flows rapidly and in large volume down Marquette Drive during hard rains.
  • A speed bump completely across the road will hamper walkers, bicyclists and handicapped persons.

This information took me 1/2 hour to research and put together. Perhaps the HOA Board and ARMS Committee should solicit suggestions from we Cloister residents before they take actions that effect all of us?