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Maintaining the old, building the new

From the President

With the trauma of the Quince Orchard retaining wall in the rear view mirror, it’s time to start looking at “the rest of the story” (apologizes to Paul Harvey), present maintenance needs and some thoughts about the future.

We can divide the Kentlands Citizens Assembly’s (KCA) assets into three general groups: those we have that are ready to use; those we have that, well, leave a little to be desired; and those we wish we had but don’t. Each of these groups is already being paid for, because our monthly assessments include contributions either in the form of a budget line item or a reserve contribution.

Ready to use: The classic example of funding for a ready to use asset is the budget line item that pays to operate our swimming pools each summer. The operating expenses include the water needed to fill the pools, the cleanup needed to get them ready for the season, the lifeguards who protect swimmers and enforce our various pool rules, and so on. These operating expenses are a part of our annual budget.

Our citizens and volunteers are not heavily involved in running the pools;  that’s up to our management staff and contractors, but we do ask that folks mention anything that does not meet the highest standards to us. Your President, Board of Trustees and professional staff all want excellent services.

Not quite up to snuff: This is maintenance. The old saw, “pay me now or pay me later,” is never more true than it is with maintaining all our assets. A drain in a mews may be hidden below the ground but it still needs to be maintained; mortar deterioration takes place slowly, and a small repair now can prevent a big one later … or an accident. Our playground equipment, various asphalt and concrete sidewalks, decorative elements such as the many stone walls that face Route 28 and Kentlands Boulevard, and stripes defining parking places all need maintenance to extend their lives and keep them looking their best.

One of the maintenance challenges we face is identifying maintenance needs. If anyone happens to notice something that belongs to the KCA that needs work — a drain in a mews, a fence, a wall — please let us know!

There are two general categories for this kind of maintenance.

Small stuff  — Some things are what one might call “small stuff,” a metal fence that is in need of fresh paint or a short section of sidewalk that has become a tripping hazard. FYI — most of the sidewalks in the Kentlands are owned by the City of Gaithersburg. This work is supervised by our General Manager and done both by part-time staff and contractors depending on its scope and complexity. It’s paid for as a part of our annual operating budget.

Big stuff  — While maintaining our many mews does include some minor things like fixing a bollard, these private roadways need heavy maintenance as well. We did some significant repair and restoration work on a bit more than half of them in 2013 and 2014, but The Quince Orchard retaining wall expenses forced a hiatus in major mews work. We are now past that problem so major maintenance is now restarting with about half of the remaining mews scheduled for remediation in 2017. We pay for this work using accumulated reserve funds, our reserves are recovering nicely (from the retaining wall expense) at this point, so that it does not appear as a separate part of the annual budget.

Wish we had: Here there are a number of items on “the wish list” of ideas for ways to make Kentlands even better. These tend to be of significant size so the KCA leadership sets money aside in a Capital Projects Reserve to pay for them. Our Capital Projects Working Group (want to volunteer?) plays a key role in turning these projects from ideas into reality.

Swipe card system — Our facilities pass system is, well, not the latest technology. Switching to proximity cards or a similar system would probably reduce the Assembly’s day-to-day costs and improve services.

Storage facility — The KCA has a rented storage facility in Germantown and a variety of decorations, supplies and equipment stored in staff offices and throughout the Clubhouse. An on-site facility would reduce operating costs and free up valuable Clubhouse space.

Improved streaming web system — Our current webcasting system was assembled as an experiment and has some significant limitations in both video and audio quality. An upgrade would allow us to keep our citizens better informed.

Mews improvements — The mews have a few defects that go beyond the existing paving’s age and condition. These include undesirable traffic as is the situation between Lake Street and Kent Oaks Way and drainage problems in a number of locations. Other mews offer opportunities for beautification initiatives. While the KCA is working to address some problems and opportunities, others probably exist

 

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