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Oakmont’s Central Complex at the center of board election

OVA faces unusually high number of issues this year
Oakmont’s Central Complex at the center of board election
Photo by Paul Goguen

 

By Jim Brewer

There have been years when campaigns for Oakmont’s board of directors have been loud, cranky, or even bitter. This year has not been one of those, but there is plenty of community angst just the same.

“The past three or four years in Oakmont have been about as eventful as any we have had,” said Herm Hermann, a longtime Oakmont resident and respected former board member. “But the next few years can be every bit as important for the long-range future of Oakmont.”

An unusually large number of issues will be confronting the Oakmont Village Association Board this year, including overseeing and expanding home area fire inspections, calls to increase solar capabilities to allow Oakmont to form its own electric power grid, and a need to find a replacement for general manager Kimberly Rowland, who left after only nine months. But by far the most controversial subject has been what to do with the community’s central activities area, and whether to expand or even replace the more than half-centuryold Berger Center.

Hermann said that while he has served “in one capacity or another” with the various committees and studies on the future of the Central Complex, “none of that work by dedicated members of our community has as yet come to fruition. It is imperative that our future OVA boards of directors and their chosen committees come to some conclusions on this future. This will not be an easy job, and we need to elect board members who are as dedicated to getting it right as is possible.”

“Getting it right” is on the minds of the three incumbents and three challengers competing for four seats on the seven-member OVA board. But getting it right doesn’t appear to mean getting it soon.

Board members Jess Marzak, Wayne Van Bockern and Jeff Neuman are facing challenges from Iris Harrell, Marianne Neufeld and Ken Smith. Current Board Chairman Tom Kendrick is completing his second term and is not eligible to run. Ballots go out to homeowners this week, with results announced April 4.

In written statements that accompanied their declarations of candidacy that are mailed to every home, only two candidates — both of them incumbents— directly addressed the future of Oakmont’s Central Complex. Two challengers said they chose not to because decisions are years away.

The Incumbents

Marzak, an Oakmont home owner for 36 years, has lived here full time for seven. He was appointed to the Oakmont Board in May 2019, and was elected to a full two-year term in 2020. “When Oakmont residents can again return to more normal activities, such as attending meetings in person, I would like to lead a community discussion about the issues surrounding the Berger Center,” he wrote in his candidate statement. “The only way to resolve these issues is through a series of community meetings where facts are presented, questions are asked, and thoughts are expressed about how to resolve unavoidable differences of opinion.”

Van Bockern has lived in Oakmont since 2007. He has been retired since 2018 and has served on several Oakmont committees. In his statement he cited his listening and communication skills, but did not offer any specifics.

Neuman, an Oakmont resident for three years, was appointed to the board last October to fill the seat vacated by Noel Lyons. He has been active in several committees and also serves as a member of the Oakmont Sunday Symposium board. “We should be in no hurry to retire or replace the Berger Center,” he wrote. “Maintain all of our facilities, but plan and budget for what comes next and know that nothing lasts forever.”

The Challengers

Harrell, an Oakmont resident since 2015, heads the volunteer Oakmont Building Construction Committee and the Firewise Committee. She has managed the design, permits and construction of several major Oakmont projects, including the East Rec Center renovation, the dog park and the ongoing CAC West Rec renovation. Harrell says she did not directly address the Berger question in her candidate statement because “we need some financially sound ideas that can be developed over the next four or five years. There is nothing to decide right now.” In her statement, she said, “I believe we should continue to improve our facilities to meet ADA standards and timeless aesthetics. These improvements should accommodate the activities and interests of all Oakmont residents, current and future.” Neufeld is a 17-year Oakmont resident. She was an Oakmont director for three years and served as liaison to the Architecture Committee and the Landscape Committee. She was an active member of those committees prior to her election to the board and was instrumental in writing the OVA Firewise policy adopted in 2020. Most recently she organized the “Junk the Junipers” events. Her statement doesn’t directly address the Central Complex, but her campaign signs are posted around Oakmont side by side with Harrell’s. “I did not mention the Berger question because I believe it’s premature at this time,” she said. “There’s lots more information we need before we can have serious discussions about our options.”

Smith came to Oakmont in 2015. For the past three years he has served on the Aspen Meadows Home Owners Association board and is currently chair of Oakmont’s Energy Resiliency Committee, where he has been the driving force behind efforts to bring solar power to Oakmont, ultimately making it able to run its own power grid. He also serves on the Building Construction Committee, is an assessor for the Firewise Resource Committee and an inspector for the Architecture Committee’s Firewise Home Visit Program. In his statement, Smith emphasized his experience and volunteer activities, but offered no details about his vision for Oakmont. But at a candidate forum he made clear that “we need a bigger building. This one is not adequate. I’m all for moving towards a newer building, and maybe in a different place.”

“Getting it right” is on the minds of the three incumbents and three challengers competing for four seats on the seven-member ova board.

 

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