Berger remodel decision could be revisited by a new OVA board
Recent board approval of a $3.6-million remodel of Oakmont’s Berger Center may be revisited by a new board, according to statements at a candidates forum on Feb. 21.
Six of nine candidates either called specifically for revisiting the Feb. 6 decision or expressed serious doubts about the process leading to the vote.
The vote came immediately after the board-appointed Berger Action Committee (BAC) presented six options for updating Oakmont’s primary gathering spot, ranging from upgrades to constructing a new facility on a new site. The BAC estimated that monthly dues increase to service a 15-year loan ranged from $4.90 per person to $7.15 per person.
A packed auditorium for the candidates night paid rapt attention to a lively two-hour discussion which explored subjects including the Berger remodel, the development of a dog park, Oakmont’s relationship with its golf courses and the need for dues increases.
Pat Amedeo, forum facilitator, urged Oakmont residents not to vote for a given block of candidates but to vote for individuals.
Candidates Dennis Boaz, Heidi Klyn, Steve Spanier and Marianne Neufeld said they favor revisiting the Berger remodel decision, while Tom Kendrick and Al Medeiros questioned how the decision was handled. Boaz said he was “appalled” at the process, adding there was “very little discussion.”
Lynda Oneto and Karen Oswald, current OVA Board Members and 2018 candidates, stood by their Feb. 6 vote favoring the remodel. Oswald said she had studied the history of the Berger project for three years and the best option is to remodel on the existing footprint. Wayne Van Bockern said he’s concerned about the Berger Center and wants to remodel.
Joining Oneto and Oswald in the 4-2 majority on Feb. 6 were Carolyn Bettencourt and Greg Goodwin, both incumbents who are not on the ballot. Kathleen Connelly opposed the motion and board president Gloria Young was absent when the vote was taken; neither is a candidate.
Voting begins March 1, with ballots due by April 2, and votes counted the next day.
Oakmont dog park
The dog park, which led off the forum because it produced the most questions submitted beforehand by residents, drew overwhelming approval. Medeiros, who said he has no dog and would never have one, called the dog park “a great idea.” Klyn, who said she made many friends among dog owners at the now off-limits polo field near Wild Oak, said she is “all for a dog park, let’s do it.” There was a consensus that Oakmont should develop and maintain the park. The owners of the polo field, the Trione family, has offered to pay $25,000 toward constructing a dog park. Efforts to find a site are underway.
Oakmont Golf Club
The question of whether OVA should provide financial assistance to the Oakmont Golf Club drew a mixed reaction. While no one questioned that the two golf courses are a valuable asset, Oswald, Oneto and Boaz said they don’t believe in subsidies and Klyn expressed caution about “bailing out” the golf club. Spanier called the courses “an important amenity” and Kendrick said it’s “crucial” that they survive. Neufeld and Oneto said that OVA “needs something back” if it subsidizes the golf club, with Neufeld suggesting a site for the dog park.
Asked about dues increases, the candidates said that while they should be reasonable and a last resort, they may be necessary to maintain current OVA facilities and add new ones if necessary. Medeiros said it’s a simple matter of deciding on a budget and then dividing that figure by the number of residents. Kendrick said it’s not complicated.