I think I’ve found a black hole near Geist, at least that’s what it feels like every time the topic of uniform mailboxes comes up at a GHPOA board meeting. Countless hours have been spent debating an issue that gets bigger as our homes get older.
One of the volunteer boards I’ve served on for the last six years is for the Geist Harbours Property Owners Association (“GHPOA”) which represents 2,380 homeowners living in 12 Geist neighborhoods: Admirals Bay, Admirals Pointe, Admirals Sound, Admirals Woods, Beam Reach, Crossing South, Feather Cove I, Feather Cove II, Feather Cove III, Diamond Pointe, Masthead I, and Masthead II.
After completing the five-year, $580,000 street sign project, the grounds committee, chaired by now-retired Dr. John Moore, presented the concept of uniform mailboxes to the board last fall. None of our mailboxes in any of our neighborhoods (with the exception of Admirals Woods) were standardized or uniform despite our current covenants that clearly give design approval to the GHPOA. The result is a potpourri of mailbox styles, designs, and tastes which really detracts from the all-important curb appeal of our neighborhoods.
Just replace them. That’s pretty easy, right?
About five years ago, the GHPOA board approved a standardized mailbox design featuring a sailboat that retails for $495 installed. Doing some simple math, replacing 2,380 mailboxes at $495 each is a $1,178,100 project which is twice the amount of the five-year street sign project. Proponents argue that we wouldn’t have to buy 2,380 because over 300 residents have already purchased the new mailbox. They also contend that buying them in bulk will help us lower the cost.
I have several issues with this proposal, here are my top three:
At the last GHPOA meeting, the board decided to take the discussion offline since we have spent hours debating this proposal at our monthly meetings. We met at Eddy’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill last Monday evening and invited some other residents to attend. Surprisingly, about 20 homeowners attended and voiced their opinions and ideas. My favorite concept and proposed solution to this dilemma was brought up by Randy Frisk, a Masthead homeowner.
Negotiate a bulk price for the mailboxes (say $350 for argument sake) and offer a GHPOA subsidy program to a fixed number of residents that purchase the standardized mailbox. For example, GHPOA allocates $75,000 from the 2010 operating budget to subsidize a maximum of 500 mailboxes at $150 each. This would bring the purchase price down to $200 for each homeowner that wanted a new, standardized mailbox. Each year, the GHPOA board could budget for this mailbox subsidy fund and control the expense by capping the number of eligible mailboxes to be installed.
This proposal overcomes my three objections to the original proposal. First and foremost, the homeowner is still purchasing the mailbox and thus “owns” the mailbox. The cost to the association is much more manageable at $150 per mailbox. Second, the burden of upkeep and maintenance clearly falls on the homeowner. Lastly, those homeowners with aesthetically pleasing mailboxes would not necessarily have to replace their mailboxes, but over time as they get older and need replacing, having a $200 option available would be a nice option.
I intend on proposing this option at our next GHPOA board meeting and would appreciate any of your feedback and comments. I also encourage you to voice your opinions to your respective GHPOA neighborhood representative.