Creek 9 looking from Clubhouse PHOTO BY RANDY LEWIS
POA’s March 16 work session packed with reports, updates
The Property Owners Association's March 16 work session was packed with committee reports, plans for follow up votes, an update on the proposed fire station’s contingency fund and a little bit of mountain music.
POA President Phil Anderson read a statement explaining the cost for asphalt paving for the fire station would be $17,464 over the budgeted amount. In addition, the payment and cost of a performance bond for the site work contractor was overlooked. “These two items, totaling $25,594, reduce the available fire station project contingency dollars to $104,467 from $130,061,” he read. "The Board will continue to scrutinize the need for the expenditure of contingency dollars to make sure they are used only when absolutely necessary," added Anderson.
“My work is about done,” said John Mann, chair of the Fire Station Task Force, noting the POA is planning an early April date for a groundbreaking on the new fire station.
Anderson thanked property owners for the 89.1 percent favorable vote on the new fire station then introduced Peter Hill, who has been hired by the POA to oversee the proposed $1.5 million project.
"Peter Hill is the president of HDA Architects in Dawsonville. He has extensive experience coordinating and administering construction contracts from pre-construction to closing documents,” said Anderson. “During the construction of the fire station, Peter will serve as the POA's representative with responsibilities for contract administration, project oversight and coordination,” he said.
The site work, Hill said, should take two months and fire station construction is estimated to take six months. He expects the project to be completed this year.
Water task force update
Hollis Lathem, chair, POA Water Task Force, reported on his March 13 meeting with Arnold Ellison and Bobby Smallwood, representatives of the Big Canoe Utilities Company. Lathem said he received an update on the cause and resolution of the Nov. 5, 2016 pump failure; this incident resulted in a 6-day water outage that affected 25 percent of Big Canoe households.
Ellison told Lathem a new pump purchased to repair the pump station 2000A problem didn’t work; a second pump was ordered and was supposed to arrive March 16. Ellison later informed Lathem that the pump for pump station 2000A had been shipped but, as of March 21, had not arrived for installation. He explained that it is coming from outside the country and must go through customs which may take a couple of weeks.
“Once the new pump is installed, likely later this month [March], it should prevent another failure,” Lathem told Smoke Signals in a March 17 phone interview.
. .Discussion with Ellison and Smallwood centered on plans to improve the water system, Lathem said. “From 2011 through 2016, Big Canoe Utilities collected $15 a month from Big Canoe households for a total of $2,716.634. Of that amount, only $302,000 is left. The balance, Ellison told Lathem, was spent on capital improvements.
“They provided a list of work and improvements the money was spent on,” Lathem said. “During this time—while the water company spent all this money and did all this work—the water system got worse,” he noted.
If Big Canoe Utilities raises the monthly assessment to $20—with 2,800 households currently in Big Canoe, the water company would collect an estimated $672,000 a year to be used solely for improving the system primarily through capital improvements, Lathem noted.
Big Canoe Utilities has awarded a contract to Cranston Engineering to study ways to improve the small water tank on Petit Ridge. According to the BCU representatives, Cranston has 75 days to complete the study and provide recommendations.
“The water company,” Lathem added “has only committed to do the study; we have no guarantee they will take any corrective action.”
In Big Canoe, after water is processed it is pumped to the top of the mountains (e.g., McElroy, Sanderlin, Audubon Ridge), to be stored and then flow down to supply homes as needed.
“Most water systems have two sets of pipes, one to move the water up and the other to distribute down,” said Lathem. “BCU uses the same pipe to move water up and down. While the water is being pumped up, households on the lower levels can draw water off, likely slowing the process a bit.”
There are eight pressure zones in Big Canoe, pressure reducers are used to help slow and control the flow of water downhill.
Ken Rice has joined the POA Water Task Force, said Lathem. “He has extensive knowledge about the water system and years’ worth of documents and information.”
On Monday, March 20, Tara Byrne Garner, Executive Vice President, Big Canoe Utilities Company, sent an email to her Big Canoe water customers explaining how money collected through the current $15 monthly fees has been used.
Internet Task Force
Goldstein responded to a question asked by Taylor Leonard at the March 11 Community Coffee concerning telephone toll call treatment by ETC. “Our toll-free calling area under ETC services will be exactly the same as is currently the case with both Windstream and TDS.
“Calls to Dawson, Pickens, and Atlanta metropolitan area currently considered local/toll free will continue to be treated the same. This will be applicable regardless of any information to the contrary published on the ETC website. Our proposed arrangements with ETC are unique in this respect.”
A March 23 meeting was scheduled with AEG and an earlier meeting was set with ETC to address the recommendations adopted by the board at its Feb. 23 meeting.
Other reports, requests for the board:
- Troon Task Force - Regis Falinski, chair of the Troon Task Force, said his group continues to look into Troon’s proposal. Jim Braley is studying likely employee benefits and Ham Gadd is checking out insurance programs. Director of Finance Jayne Hagan, who has access to Troon discounts and invoices, is looking into potential cost savings for the POA. The probable POA employee
organization structure under Troon’s management is critical, Falinski said. “Will head count remain the same or grow?” Falinski expects the task force to have its due diligence completed by April 30 and a recommendation to the board in May.
- Land Use Task Force - Ken Nichols, a member of the LUTF, offered recommendations on repurposing the retail center (formerly the Wild Onion restaurant), which was purchased from the developer as part of the 2016 land/property purchase. The committee agrees this building won’t work as a community center but recommends “fixing it up to make it usable as a gathering place.” Jason Brownell, director of Operations, is putting cost estimates together and the board is moving forward with a vote at the March 23 meeting to determine whether the POA will fund improvements.
- Elections Committee - Chair Dick Scharf, a former POA president, gave the board an update on actions the POA election committee will take. He encouraged potential candidates to think about how they can serve the community rather than the election process itself.
- Open access request - Bob Knysz, representing the Mountain MusicFest’17 organizers, asked the POA to consider opening the gates to the public for a benefit music concert at the Play Field, now in the planning stages. General Manager John Thompson shared some of his concerns about opening up Big Canoe roads to outside drivers. Director Steve Wilson recommended moving the issue forward for a vote if the organizers could arrange outside parking and shuttle buses similar to the Oktoberfest arrangement. Following the meeting the MusicFest organizers withdrew their request.
The POA board will meet in The Clubhouse at Lake Sconti at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 23 for its next regular meeting.