Restore fiscal responsibility, vote for “We Are All Oakmont”
By Michael Connolly, Oakmont resident
As all in Oakmont know, 2016 was the year of pickleball in our community. At the forefront was a controversial plan to spend over $410,000 to build four new pickleball courts adjacent to the Central pool. This extravagant facility met strong opposition from residents who were not opposed to the sport of pickleball, but to the ever-increasing cost of building new courts when some of our existing eight tennis courts were underused. Many communities around the nation (including the City of Santa Rosa) have been successfully converting underused tennis courts in city parks to pickleball at a fraction of the cost of building new courts.
According to the Oakmont News, more than 400 residents expressed their opinions during a special Board of Directors meeting in response to a petition signed by nearly 1,200 members opposed to this special interest project. Despite broad opposition, a majority of the Board voted to move forward with construction of the courts, which is scheduled to begin in Spring 2017.
The “We are ALL Oakmont” candidates, Carolyn Bettencourt, Greg Goodwin and Ken Heyman, consider this costly project an example of the current Board’s lack of financial responsibility, and pivotal in their decision to seek seats on the 2017 Board of Directors. It is their intent to be in the position to more judiciously address the many fiscal issues facing our community.
Oakmont is 54 years old this year and many of our aging facilities are desperately in need of upgrading or being replaced altogether. OVA management has no financial Master Plan and has a poor track record when it comes to project budgets. The West Recreation Center remodel, completed last year, ended up costing $1,365,000, which is more than four times the OVA’s original budget of $300,000 and nearly double a consultant’s estimate of $711,000. Our East Recreation Center deck has been barricaded now for nearly a year and a half due to safety hazards, with concerns that the unchecked dry rot damage may have compromised the building itself. The history of decisions and costs related to moving the OVA office space and recently completed remodel is another case in point. The office is now back in the same space it occupied a few years ago, with much money wasted along the way in exploring and occupying different sites and lost opportunities to purchase office space.
The Oakmont Village Association is faced with over $2 million in deferred maintenance expenses. One Asset Replacement Study reflects the severity of facility deficiencies, which include safety concerns, bringing buildings up to code, seismic upgrades, asbestos removal, electrical upgrades, pool deck and bathroom updates. The cost figures don’t even include an estimated 50 percent in material costs.
Upgrading our most used facility, the Berger Center, is years behind schedule and projected to be as much as $3.1 million just to meet seismic upgrades, remove asbestos, and address basic remodeling needs including ADA requirements. Tearing down the existing Berger Center and building a new structure is also under serious consideration with estimates ranging from $6-10 million.
To address these needs, our yearly HOA dues have gone up in six of the last seven years, almost doubling since 2010, with the largest increase of almost nine percent coming this year alone. Do you know Oakmont residents who are on a limited fixed income for whom this is a hardship? I certainly do. I’ve heard some, including newer Oakmont residents, say that our dues are still too low. Tell that to residents who have lived here for 20-30 years and have already contributed mightily to our treasury to maintain our existing facilities. With increasing dues these long-time residents and all of Oakmont have a right to expect that the facilities most used by the community are first on the list when it comes to spending our dues money.
It’s time to elect board members who are fiscally responsible and represent the interests of all Oakmont residents. Let’s move forward with addressing the overdue repairs, upgrades and potential replacement of facilities and amenities that have not been prioritized while the focus has been on providing expensive new pickleball courts.
I urge you to let your voices be heard and vote for Carolyn Bettencourt, Greg Goodwin, and Ken Heyman when you complete your ballot on March 1.
These three “We Are All Oakmont” candidates will guide Oakmont into a future of fiscal responsibility for the benefit of ALL Oakmont residents. Learn more about these fine candidates at WeAreOakmont.com.
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