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.

 

The Nearly Invisible Man at The Cloister


Upon our return from a shopping trip yesterday I had an opportunity to say hello again to someone who has been a fixture at The Cloister for almost 10 years.Normantruck

Norman Sullivan is the person who goes from building to building repairing and replacing whatever is necessary prior to the painters following him to paint the outside of the buildings at The Cloister. Norman shows up in early Spring and disappears again in late fall when it’s too cold to work outside. You can recognize him by his little table saw and a pickup truck with boards sticking out of the back.

You might want to wave at Norman when you drive by. Let him know if you are concerned he might miss something that needs fixing on the outside of your unit.

I am very fond of this pleasant person and it’s good to see him back at work this year.Normanatwork

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?

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….

OLLIFallSchedule
.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

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?

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!'