Kenwood Press

Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

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News: 09/01/2010

Forum Oakmont: OVA Board makes history

>It was a meeting without precedent. The OVA Board, prompted by our new manager Patricia Arnold, held its first ever retreat – not a closed session, but a public forum. It was an open meeting that was attended by an audience of exactly three people, a disappointing showing, which raises questions about the administration’s success in reaching the wider community.

The day-long meeting was devoted to setting goals for the Board, and to ratifying policy and procedures that, henceforth, will govern the activities of committees.

What turned out to be the most talked about issue was the long overdue upgrading of the administration’s computer operation to an IT system (“IT” stands for Information Technology.) Oakmont had been managing its business with 20th century methods. Most of the past information is stored on paper and not in electronic form.

Various hard disks contain different files and programs. There is no centralized database accessible from every terminal. Bits and pieces of information are stored on personal computers with limited storage capabilities. Software programs are outdated and do not lend themselves to statistical computation and cross filing of diverse information. OVA membership accounting is handled by a contractor and their data is inaccessible via digital network.

A lively debate ensued over whether or not a consultant needed to be hired, or whether the requisite technical expertise could be found among the residents of Oakmont. The cost of the installation of an IT scheme was estimated to run around $50,000, with a one to two year lead-in time.

High on the priority list was the ongoing process of writing the new policy governing committees. What was made clear is that they are not autonomous entities, but subordinates of the Board. Members are not only confirmed by the Directors, but will, henceforth, strictly follow their yet to be written new charters, and undertake tasks as requested by the Board. The restructuring of these invaluable bodies calls for a special article in the future.

Capital budget work is how several members characterized long term financial planning. Does the Board have insight into the fiscal requirements of future projects – is there a long range planning charter – and how solid is the information to structure the necessary funds? One example shows one bid for resurfacing a parking lot at $72,000 and another at $178,000. An error in planning has some landscaping established, only to see it ripped out to make room for another project, causing unnecessary doubling of expenses. The roof of the Berger Center needs replacement. Are the costs anticipated in the capital budget?

In the matter of environmental aesthetics, the Oakmont entrances were laid on the table. The Pythian ingress is an eyesore and has been one for decades. Nobody has a workable solution. Land on both sides is owned or controlled by entities other than the Oakmont Village Association. The main entrance was up for discussion, until one Director reminded her colleagues that a significant amount of money had been spent only a few years ago to improve its appearance.

Oakmont has over 120 recognized clubs. Should there be closer scrutiny of what a proposed club is all about? Do we have the facilities and staff to service them all? Which brings us back to an upgraded computer operation.

An Information Technology system would facilitate scheduling of club activities, accessing past projects and their costs, possibly bring membership accounting in-house, reduce the paper avalanche, give an overview of enterprises in progress and those planned for the future, and most importantly it would give the manager and staff the time-saving tools to oversee and coordinate every function of the village’s business at the stroke of a key.

At the end of the marathon session, and from my vantage point, I can reassure everyone that we have a Board that is visionary and working extremely hard, assisted by a manager who is the consummate professional.

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