We Are Trapped in The Cloister…… Update

snow streetsAs the snow falls, my home health providers have cancelled their visits today, Saturday, Jan 22, 2016.  My therapist is concerned that she can make it over the plowed streets but not when she enters The Cloister. It has  now become impossible to plow the streets of The Cloister  and the streets are empty of traffic and impassible. I hope no one will need emergency ambulance service.

So sad……


Sunday, Jan 24,2016 saw a truck looking as if it were salting our street this morning. It looks like the new HOA Board is doing it’s job. That’s great!




New Cloister HOA Board Members

Congratulations to the newly elected Cloister HOA Board members. I hope we will now see progress on some important issues impacting Cloister residents.

John Eley
Brenda Butler
Ann Green
Sue H. Hegland


I hope the new board will act early:

  • Stop the 3rd HOA fee increase that raises the HOA Fee to a whopping $380 per month. These increases added $1560 per year or more than one month’s Social Security for many of our residents.
  • Remove many of the speed bumps and add a curbside bicycle/walking/handicap path on all Cloister streets.
  • Cancel Comcast Contract so we don’t pay for services for the vacant units and can negotiate our own terms.
  • Revise and keep the Official Cloister website current. The website is virtually useless and impossible to navigate and read. Many updating delays.
  • Publish a detailed meeting agenda one week prior to the monthly HOA Board meetings.
  • Set aside 15 minutes prior to a Board meeting for homeowner input.
  • A Board member upon agreement by the entire board can invite one homeowner for their input regarding an upcoming issue to be voted on.
  • Publish description of all committees with names of committee members.

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……


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?

Revised……Please HOA Board….Enough Already

Special Note:  I have had a considerable number of people contact me to ask why I did not include John Eley on the list of those I would support in the upcoming Home Owner Association elections. John and I have talked extensively about how financial reporting and resident communication with the HOA Board can be improved and strengthened. Frankly if there is anyone who should be on the HOA Board….it is John Eley.

Speed bumps have now been extended curb-to-curb across our Cloister streets preventing any safe way to walk in our community. Driveway flares as part of sidewalk construction make the sidewalks virtually unusable while the extended speed bumps make the streets dangerous to pedestrians and those using bicycles, walkers or wheelchairs.

The entire community is infested with stop signs, speed limit signs, speed bumps(existing speed bumps have been extended from curb to curb while all new ones extend completely across the road), driveway flares instead of level sidewalks.

I went out for some fresh air recently and found my self completely trapped with speed bumps and driveway flares preventing my safe access to the Cloister neighborhood. Six speed bumps now block my way from our home to the Clubhouse. Four speed bumps block my way to the walk leading to the handicapped entrance to St Henry Church. Two bump barriers block my way to the hilltop Healthcare Center at West Meade Place where I did volunteer work with patients in the Therapy room. I can’t do that anymore.

I’m asked that the HOA leave a small 36 inch space between the curb and the beginning of each speed bump for my wheelchair. The current HOA Board ignored my request and I am now trapped in my own home. There is a total absence of communication between the HOA Board and residents, and the board seems to lack any financial responsibility.

This is what I will look for in our new board of directors:

  • Improved communications between Board and residents through:
    • a detailed agenda posted one week prior to a board meeting covering what will be voted on.
    • Opportunity for resident input prior to a board meeting on any issue, rather than after the meeting when resident input is useless since all issues have already been voted upon.
  • Standard Financial reporting
    • An Operating Budget covering normal expenses by line item
    • A Capital Spending budget covering physical improvements to the property
    • Detailed listing of Capital Reserves and planned physical improvements
    • Monthly reports of actual vs budgeted spending
  •  A Board that will restore safe access to our streets for the residents who have physical handicaps

We now are having a HOA Board Election for  four new board members.  The monthly news letter listed candidates running for the HOA Board. All of them are well qualified but I will vote for those who will support what I look for on a Board. These are who I am voting for based on the candidates statement.

  • Brenda Butler
  • Evonne Cain
  • Ann Green
  • Sue H. Hegland
Any comments?

Enjoying Senior Adult Classes at Vanderbilt

Students at Class Session

Students at Class Session

Bonney and I attended an Osher Lifelong Learning at Vanderbilt class yesterday. We have been active in this program for more than 10 years. This Fall session had a course we were interested in and at a Handicapped accessible location.

These courses are being offered this session….

.Classes are held at various locations with this session including….

St. George’s Episcopal Church, 4715 Harding Road

The Temple,  5015 Harding Pike

The Commons Center, Vanderbilt campus

Lentz Public Health Center, 2500 Charlotte Avenue

We attended this class………

11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Circadian Rhythms and Sleep

Instructors: Carl H. Johnson, Stevenson Chair in Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University Beth Malow, Professor of Neurology, Vanderbilt University, and Director of the Vanderbilt Sleep Disorders Center Douglas McMahon, Stevenson Chair in Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University Terry Page, Professor of Biological Sciences, Emeritus, Vanderbilt University

In order to cope with the challenges of a rhythmically changing environment, plants, animals, and even microbes have evolved an internal biological clock. These endogenous, time-keeping systems orchestrate daily rhythms of behavior, physiology, and metabolism in harmony with the rising and setting of the sun. In this lecture series we will explore the properties of these clocks, how they are set to “local time,” and their utility in various aspects of physiology and behavior. Particular emphasis will be given to the sleep/wake cycle of humans with discussion about the ways sleep is regulated and the consequences of disruption of our daily sleep patterns.

Click below for more information…..

Osher Lifelong Learning at Vanderbilt

Problems With Sidewalks and Speedbumps at The Cloister

Sometimes decisions are taken without considering some consequences.

1. Our sidewalks are not Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. When I returned from a long stay at a hospital I tried to roll on the Cloister sidewalks using my electric-drive wheelchair until a driveway flare caused me to lose control and crash into a neighbors flower bed.

Driveway crossings without landings confront wheelchair users with severe and rapidly changing cross-slopes at the driveway flare.

Americans with Disability Act declares Cloister sidewalks unsafe

Americans with Disability Act declares Cloister sidewalks unsafe

2. My accident on the sidewalk forced me to ride on the streets of The Cloister. My problems with the Cloister streets are where speed bumps extend completely across the street, from curb to curb posing a danger to walkers, bicyclers, and wheelchair users.

Where can I find the ADA compliant height of speed bumps ?

Impassible speed bumps are unsafe for the still wheelchair mobile handicapped resident

Impassible speed bumps are unsafe for the still wheelchair mobile handicapped resident

Speed bumps can’t be used on an ADA accessible route. Speed humps could be, but it would be better to just use them in the roadway, and provide an accessible bump free sidewalk.

Anything over 1/2″ high has to be ramped very gently. To be ADA compliant, a 4″ high speed hump would need a four foot wide up-slope, a five foot landing on top, then a four foot wide down-slope.

3. Some residents are in that middle ground between complete mobility and being completely house bound. I am one of them. After long, hard therapy I am able to get around again using an electric drive wheelchair. I can maneuver outdoors to visit neighbors, go to the clubhouse, enjoy the bird sanctuaries on the back lot and even take the path, initially put in  when The Cloister was first developed, that leads directly down to St Henry Church.

Shall we wait until this happens?

Shall we wait until this happens?

But…….I already had one crash because of the driveway flares built-into all the Cloister sidewalks and almost lose control every time while attempting to ride over the several speed bumps on the Cloister streets which completely cross the street from curb to curb. And now the association board wants to add even more of these dangerous speed bumps.  A curbside opening between the curb and the beginning of the speed bump would allow a wheelchair, bicycle or even a walker to walk the streets without the danger of falling.

The HOA Board members should reconsider their dangerous decision.Danger Sign

  1. Do not extend existing speed bumps curb to curb.
  2. Do not add more curb to curb speed bumps
  3. Remove a section of existing curb to curb speed bumps to allow a wheelchair, bicycle or pedestrian and dog walkers to safely travel on a  Cloister street since we are forced to the streets with sidewalks that are not passable because of danger from the driveway flares on the sidewalks.