President’s Corner

Westbriar Membership Meeting, May 17, 2011, Epiphany United Methodist Church
Election Acceptance Speech,
John Shreffler

Thank you all for coming to the meeting tonight.

And thanks especially to Jack Mitchell for his long time service to the Westbriar Civic Association. Jack has worked tirelessly for many years to represent our community and has made many important contributions to improve and maintain our standing in this end of Vienna and in the surrounding region.

He brought to the office the same energy and dedication that he displayed heading to the South Pacific as a freshly minted Lieutenant in early 1942 after that thing near Honolulu. Please, a round of applause.

I am honored to be selected as your new president, and I will do my best to carry on the work of the Association. I will be meeting with Jack and the other officers in the coming weeks to do some catch-up, get to know my team better, and “learn the ropes” as they say in the Navy.

For those that I have not met, let me say a few words by way of introduction. My wife Teddy and I moved into our home on Echols Street in 1984. At the time, our children were pre-schoolers, and we enrolled them at OLGC. They are now out in the world and doing well, and Teddy and I are enjoying an Empty Nest status. I am retired from a career in electronics.

As a note of interest, the original owner of our house was Frank Gardner, who had 8 children there, must have been wall-to-wall bunk beds, since the house is fairly small. One of his daughters, Maureen, grew up to become the wife of rising politician Robert McDonnell, who is now the Governor of Virginia. So we have the First Lady’s home. Sort of like “Washington Slept Here”, I was considering a bronze plaque for the door.

My relationship with the Association started in the early 90s when I was helping with candle distribution on Echols Street, and for the last ten years, have been the Zone A Coordinator. I come to this office with no agenda except to help promote the interests of our community. I do have a few ideas that I want to tackle which I will get to in a second.

I understand that the success of our organization depends on working closely and in a cooperative spirit with the governments of Vienna and Fairfax. By ourselves we really do not have the power to make the types of improvements that count, such as traffic calming regulations, zoning issues and the like. But we do have the power, if used skillfully, to influence. Therefore I will work to establish myself in good graces with the Town Council, building up relationships that hopefully can be drawn on down the road. I will be attending Council meetings, and be watchful for issues that affect us, reporting back to members for discussion and appropriate actions. The most important goal of our association, simply put, is to see that this end of town gets its fair share of services and attention for which we all pay our taxes.

One of the first projects that I intend to spearhead is modest, yet I feel very important logistically. That is to bring our data base into the computer era by incorporating what is presently a lot of hand drawn membership rosters into a single Excel spread sheet. The master sheet can serve as a template for each zone coordinator for other uses such as luminaria distribution. The sheet will be a single point data collection of addresses, owners, phone numbers, candle requirements, membership dues status, and in particular, email addresses.

The email addresses are important because the homes that now use email are certainly more than 80%, and the ability to update members on issues electronically will not only be faster, but at much less cost. Xerox does not come cheap.

I want to publish and distribute our newsletter by email. There will be some homes that are not yet plugged in, and for those, we can print and distribute, but these will be fewer as time goes on.

Finally, I want to go over the Constitution and By-laws to see if the wording, aims, goals, and methods are still as appropriate as when they were drafted 50 years ago. The town has changed markedly since then, perhaps there are improvements we could make in our own rule book too.

The Westbriar Civic Association is basically a volunteer organization. There are no salaries, and there is not a huge budget. So we depend on your volunteer efforts and good will to move forward. If you have some spare time, or talents, or desire to help us and your community, please let us hear from you.

We will meet again to discuss progress and present other ideas and directions that would be of benefit. Until then, thank you again for your support and trust.

 

May 23, 2011 Vienna Town Council Session

Thank you, Jack.

Council Members, good evening, it is good to meet you. I appreciate the opportunity to address you tonight. I want you all to know that my wife and I enjoyed living for the past 27 years in Vienna — well managed, great services, great schools, a nice blend of big and small. Love the sidewalk facelift on Maple and Church in the last decade.

Captain Jack Mitchell is going to be a tough act for me to follow. After a distinguished Navy career that literally started with a bang at Pearl Harbor, and included the command of the guided missile cruiser USS Little Rock, Jack’s retirement set off a second career. And that was to monitor the pulse of developments in the Tyson Corner area.He has become a walking encyclopedia on the subject, a tough job since Tyson is not exactly Mayberry USA.

Jack had been the President of Westbriar Civic Assn for well over 30 years, and we have been proud to keep him in that office. He’s a good leader. He kept us informed of issues that affect our end of town through well-reasoned summaries and analysis, and has where appropriate, waded into the fray. Although his goal was to promote the interests of Westbriar, when formulating policy positions, he always tempered his actions based on the greater good of Vienna and Fairfax. He has a great sense of connectivity, and has set an example that I can only hope to emulate.

Westbriar subdivision surrounds the golf course on the north, east and south sides, and extends south from 123 to OLGC church and school. It comprises 443 homes built in the 50s and early 60s. These days, as properties sell, it is common to see the house replaced by a much larger one. This trend will only accelerate as the ratio of land to house values increases, a result of how Tyson Corner prospers, fueled especially by the four new Metro stations. These are exciting times.

I am new to politics, this is my first elected position, and have been in this office for only six days now. Sort of a blank slate. But I have some ideas I will be working on over the coming year.

One is to develop the use of email or a web page to improve the efficiency and lower the cost of informing our members of relevant news.

Also, I want to include a system of feedback so that I can accurately gauge how members feel about issues. If, in the future I may address you in this forum, and say something like, “84% of our subdivision favors Plan A”, I want to have some solid data that says so.

Again, it is good to meet you. You will likely see me at these meetings as I make an attempt to get my “sea legs” and understand my town better. I look forward to working constructively with you on community issues.

Thank you.

 

October 27, 2011
Speed Table Proposal Public Hearing Epiphany Church, Country Club Drive, Vienna

My name is John Shreffler. I am the President of the Westbriar Civic Association. Our Association surrounds Westwood golf course on three sides, and extends south across 123 to the Our Lady of Good Council Church and School. Our membership boundaries include two of the four proposed Speed Tables, and about 35% of our membership is included in the eligible voters on this issue.After consideration of this issue, the Westbriar Civic Association takes no official position on the installation of the Speed Tables. This is primarily due to the fact that the majority of our membership would not be directly affected one way or the other. We understand the pros and cons, but feel that the matter is being decided fairly. We thank Fairfax County Department of Transportation for their consideration of the matter, and the time spent on formulating the procedures before us. What you see here is Democracy in its best form: We note that the issue has had a lot of exposure, the protocol for traffic calming measures has been transparently applied, and the issue is going to be decided by those citizens who are most affected. We cannot ask for more than that.Thank you.

 

Dec 31, 2011
New Year’s Address
Westbriar Crier

The Luminaria was spectacular this year. Dry and calm. It is a sight I have enjoyed since I joined the community in 1984. I love driving around slowly with parking lights only, drinking it in. I meet others along the way, and it is nice to know I am not alone in this … um … affliction.

A new Westbriar resident asked me this year as I was working on candle distribution, “What’s in this for me? What do I get for all this money I am contributing?” I felt that this was a good question and worthy of answer.

First of all, there is not a lot of money. The entire potential annual income from the Luminaria is only $10 times 433 houses, or $4330, which is not much more than some people pay for one monthly mortgage payment. Two thirds of that goes back into buying next year’s candles. What is left is always less than one third because of houses under construction or empty. Various other fixed and incidental costs keep the operating budget very slim. We appeal to all members to send in your $10 annual fee, if we missed you during luminaria distribution.

So, what do we get as a community and as individuals?

First, we organize and execute a Neighborhood Watch Program, where we patrol the neighborhood quietly in both marked and unmarked cars, ready to discuss unusual situations with Vienna Police.

You are reading our communications service, called the Westbriar Crier, formerly a newletter delivered to your home, but now a web blog, delivered via the internet. We have a print edition for people who have not yet bought their first computer.

We attend meetings and keep an eye out for developments that could affect our end of town. Foremost among future developments is the dramatic transformation planned for Tyson’s Corner over the next decade. As the closest Vienna neighborhood to Tyson’s, there is a lot to learn and to consider. We are going to be faced with increasing traffic for sure, and other related pressures. The important thing is to address the problems as they come, and work coopertively with various jurisdictions on the most effective solutions. Citizens have a key role in shaping the emerging city on the hill. In fact, without citizen input, Governments would be putty in the hands of developers, whose interests do not always align perfectly with the interests of the greater community. Westbriar will be forging alliances with other civic groups and intends to remain vigilant and have a strong voice in matters that affect us.

The things we do define us as active. And an active Civic Association is a huge benefit for anyone concerned with his or her own bottom line.

Real Estate Agents consistently report that properties in neighborhoods with an active Civic Association are easier to sell, because this feature is seen as a plus. This translates into an effect on prices, even though it cannot be precisely known. Suppose it makes a difference of one percent of your property’s value or selling price. A house of $500,000 value is then $505,000. So, by supporting us just $10 per year, you have made $5000. That is a pretty good investment. One of the things we do is to get the word out to Real Estate Agencies that we are here, we are proud of our community, and we work together for our best interests.

As we toss away another calendar, let us all take note of our successes and happy moments that marked the year. Let us resolve to appreciate our neighbors and reach out to share burdens. What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Connector Bus Proposals

Connector Bus Meeting, March 4, 2013, Vienna Fire Department
PDF File

4/24/2013 9:21PM (via email List Server)
Subject: Proposed Fairfax Connector Bus Routes
To: Westbriar;Dear Westbriar Members:As readers of www.wbcrier.com are aware, there have been several local opportunities offered by Fairfax County to express your opinions regarding modified and new routes to serve the new Silver Line Metro stations in Tysons. I have attended all of these meetings, and have seen that the Fairfax Connector has adjusted routing per citizen input. I have also conferred with your Zone representative here in Westbriar, and with elected Vienna and Fairfax officials on details of the Connector proposals. I am satisfied that we are being served well by an open and responsive process.Two routes are of particular interest to us in Westbriar. One is the proposed Route 460 which will run on Follin Lane, and be within easy walking distance in Westbriar Zones A and B. Route 460 will take you to both Vienna and Dunn Loring Metro stations. The other is Route 432, which will serve Zones C, D, E, F, and G, and take you to Tysons.In Westbriar, we are at a distance which is easy bicycle, but a long walk to Tysons, either for work or for taking advantage of Metro to commute. As you are aware, the Silver Line stations have no parking, and only one will have Kiss & Ride. The Fairfax Connector proposals are a valuable option for both of those transportation needs. While it may be true that many of you are not, and will never be a bus rider, Tysons and the Silver Line is a fact which cannot be ignored. An embrace of the realities of a changing urban landscape is a mature move toward the future.

We have a great opportunity here. Our property values are sky-rocketing because of our proximity to Tysons, and we would be foolish not to accept and participate fully in the transportation upgrades we see happening. Bus service is a logical and vital element in a healthy transportation system. I have looked at all aspects of this issue, and I am convinced that the best way forward is to embrace, as a community, the Connector’s proposal of the two bus routes serving our neighborhood. My intention is to formally so state to Fairfax County on May 5. Until then, I invite comments, pro or con.

John Shreffler President,
Westbriar Civic Association
westbriarcivic@verizon.net
703-938-4248

 

Connector Bus Route Meeting, March 3, 2013 Flame Room, Vienna Fire Station.

My name is John Shreffler. I am president of the Westbriar Civic Association. Westbriar is Vienna’s eastern-most neighborhood and comprises about 450 homes which surround the golf course. When you come down the hill from Tysons, and the sign says Welcome to Vienna, you are driving through the mid-point of Westbriar.

I want to offer a few points about the 432 Connector route. But first, I want to thank the Fairfax DOT for going out of their way tonight to come over and talk to us, and also thank Vienna’s Council for inviting them and hosting this meeting. This demonstrates what I am becoming very aware of, which is that we have good, responsive and transparent government in this region.

There is a lot to running a Town and a County, but there is not a lot of mystery. The decisions are in response to citizen input. As citizens, if we are interested in shaping decisions, we must be active in finding out how. Where and when meetings are held, who the decision makers are, and how the issues are defined. But this information is available, the web sites of both Vienna and Fairfax are a treasure trove of everything you need to know.

The Connector bus route planning is one such example. Fairfax is going to decide these routes, and it is going to be based on what they learn in the meetings they have already conducted and the meetings yet to come. As many of you know, we the citizens won a very important decision only 7 weeks ago, regarding the future of the Tysons Forest. I was involved in that, and I did a lot of polling through our newsletter and knocking on doors in Westbriar, and found out that virtually everyone was solidly behind saving that forest. Fairfax listened. Of course it is easy to get excited about saving trees and wild life and the many good things that come from it. Bus Routes É.. Not so much. I have talked to folks, and find the general level of interest is much lower, simply because not all that many people ride the bus or are directly affected. But some general feelings that are often expressed are: 1. Buses are definitely part of the transportation mix. Provided they attract ridership, the more the merrier. Because the more they are used the fewer the cars on the road. 2. The use that Fairfax Connector makes of facilities they already own in pursuit of ridership, the better. It keeps costs down. The 432 route, using off-hour Wolf Trap parking, is an excellent example of how this principle works. 3. The 432 route is entirely reasonable. The topography of the ground west of Vienna pretty much limits the choices of roads. Old Courthouse Road forms one of the boundaries (roughly a mile) of Westbriar Civic Association. Most of our group see 432 as an asset. Maybe Buleah Road could also get in on it, every other bus? I intend to do more polling on this subject in the next months, and be able to give a more definitive picture.

 

Address to Greater Tyson Green Civic Association May 28, 2014 (Election)

Thank you Anna for inviting me to you meeting tonight.

This is my third year as President of the Westbriar Civic Association. We are a community of about 450 homes that surround the golf course. And goes across Route 123 to the OLGC church and school. We are neighbors, sharing about a mile of Old Courthouse Road.

Since we are so close geographically, our community concerns are almost identical. Especially with regard to Tysons as it develops, we will be experiencing both the good and the bad in the same way.

We are fortunate to live in an area that has government that is competent, transparent and responsive. There is strength in numbers, and it makes sense that we should work together on issues where we agree on the way forward. We have already done that in two notable issues in the last two years. By working together with Anna’s predecessor Pam Konde, and with 16 other civic and homeowner groups we were able to get Fairfax to abandon a plan to destroy the forest separating us from Tysons, and turning it into a highway.

And more recently, Anna was helpful in getting a public transportation choice along Old Courthouse which will make the Silver Line accessible to both of us. I hope to continue to be a good neighbor and looking forward to working with you for our common good, and pledge my support on issues of common interest.

By the way, Westbriar has a news blog on line, the Westbriar Crier, and I welcome your readership. There are cards at the refreshment table with the web address. You are also welcome to sign on to our list server, and you will get advisories when new stories appear.

 

General Membership/Election Meeting, Tuesday 27 October 2015
Epiphany United Methodist Church Country Club Drive NEJohn Shreffler (Pres), Dale Sawaya (VP), Beth Corrigan (Sec-Treas), Mike Gadell (A), Pat Melton (B), Pat McCall (C), Susan Petrovich (D), John Savanick (E), Ann Streb (F), John Stone (G), Micha Joffee (H) Special Guests: Vienna Town Council Members: Pasha Majdi, Carey SienickiAgenda
Pledge of Allegiance
Greeting by John Shreffler
Recognition of Special Guests
Introduction of Members Police Officer Gary Lose
Address to Membership
Treasurer Report
Open Discussion
Business
1. Division of Zone G
2. Adoption of New Constitution
3. Election of Officers Nomination from Floor Nominated candidates remarks Ballot Count: (if no other nominations, vote by acclamation?)
AdjournmentCall to Order, Rise for the Pledge of AllegianceFriends , Neighbors, Fellow Westbriarians, good Evening, thanks for coming to this General Meeting of the Westbriar Civic Association. Westbriar has 435 homes, and we have the distinction of being the oldest continually active Civic Association in Vienna. My predecessor, Captain Jack Mitchell, sends you his greetings. He and his wife Karin are doing well in Winchester.

Before I continue, I want to recognize some distinguished guests: [Pasha Majdi, Carey Senicki]

And I want to introduce our present Westbriar Association Officers:

Officer Gary Lowes would like to speak to us about some things that have been happening in our neighborhood.

When you elected me President 4 years ago, I made three promises:
1. Join the Computer Age with our newsletter and other communication.
2. Upgrade the business aspects of the Association
3. Look over our Constitution to see if we needed to make changes. Let’s see how I did.

Promise 1. Newsletter: For 50 years, the Westbriar Crier was produced by Xerox and distributed door to door. This was expensive. So expensive that printing more than about 4 issues per year put us right up against our revenue capabilities. One of my first efforts in 2011 was to develop a web-based [Newsletter]. This has helped greatly. Once the hosting and registrations fees are paid, there is no cost on the amount or frequency of new content. Plus, it is in color, and lends itself to photos, which can deliver ideas with a lot more efficiency. And of course the ability to hop around with links to other information relevant to the story.

We also have a List Server, where we can let you know of new stories or other information instantly. The combined costs of the Crier Newsletter and list server are significantly less than the costs of a printed paper version.

The Westbriar Crier is doing very well. It is read by the Mayor and Council Members down at Town Hall. It is read by several Fairfax County Department Heads and Supervisors, including Chairman Sharon Bulova’s office. There is a hit counter of unique readers up by the weather report, and it shows over 20,000 people in the world have read it at least once. If you google CIVIC ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER, you will see that we are almost always in the top three in the world and we are often Number 1. We have competition from Scripps Ranch Civic Association in San Diego, and Ashton Heights Civic Association in Arlington, VA. New people read it every day, because there are always new civic associations starting up, and they think about having a newsletter, they think, “well, let’s see what is out there to get some ideas.” Bam. The counter clicks up again and keeps our rating up. It is sort of like why the Kardashians are popular, without having any particular talent. They are famous for being famous. Pop culture is like that.

There is a downside to the On-Line Crier of course. Not everyone has a computer, and I am well aware that some of our senior members may feel left out. Some may feel that a computer is too complicated to ever learn. This, of course, is not true, and I have worked with two members to get them connected. This is an area I would like to expand. If anyone would like to enter the Digital Age, I will guide you through the process, and I would invite other computer-savvy members to also be available to help with this. A new computer goes for only about $300. This would be a lot of money if all it did was to get you the Westbriar Crier newsletter. But it will open the world for you in ways you cannot imagine.

You do not have to be technically savvy. 20 years ago, you had to know something about it. Not now. Today it’s all point and click. If you have elderly neighbors who you know are not wired, consider inviting them to look over the Crier. I know they would enjoy it. The newsletter is yours. If you have news to share, please contribute. A great BBQ recipe? Gardening tips? If you have a business, or have an employee in Westbriar, you may advertise for free. Help us out. Maybe teenagers would be interested in earning some cash by raking leaves, or walking dogs. They will get a free ad.

Promise 2. Business improvements. For 50 years, Zone Reps were individually responsible for keeping track of their Zone, and record keeping was a bit spotty. But now, through Excel, all Westbriar Members are contained in a single data base which all of you can access on line. You can check if your membership fees are up to date. We store phone numbers, so you can use our directory to contact your neighbors. But we don’t store email addresses. We don’t have the security in our server to do this. It is too easy for email addresses to be harvested from web sites.

When you join our list server, you are actually enrolling into the service of a professional company located in Raleigh, and your address is encrypted. You will not be spammed by enrolling in the List Server.

The luminaria materials were also more expensive than they needed to be. Up until 4 years ago, each house got ten candles, and corner lots got 20 candles. This was a simple formula, but created a lot of waste, and made for a ragged look. For example, people living on the end of a cul-de-sac have pie-shaped lots, with very little frontage. So they were getting way too many candles. Also, a candle every ten feet is really excessive for the effect desired.

The idea is to have a nice uniform spacing. So we measured the entire membership [wheel] and entered your street frontage into the data base. We can divide by how many feet we want between candles, (currently 15 feet) and Excel calculates how many candles go to each house . So we now have a better Luminaria Look, and have saved over 30% in candle and bag costs. We can now make do with six tons of sand rather than nine. We could probably go up to 20 feet between candles without degrading the look, so we can forestall raising the annual fee by another 5 years, I estimate.

Promise 3. Constitution Changes. I am proposing a simplification of the Constitution, making it more relevant to our purpose and to the way that the Association has evolved. You all have had a chance to read over the document, both as it is, and my proposed version. I will go over the highlights of these changes in a moment, but I want to make a few personal remarks about my experiences as your president.

I am probably the least likely person one would expect to hold a political office. Back in high school, I was not the Preppy running for student council. I was the nerd that was rolling the cart down the hallway with the movie projector. I have spent my career as a Lab Rat. That is what we call ourselves. Sometimes known as an Electronic Engineer. For 45 years I sat on a four legged stool in front of a maple topped workbench designing these green things with all the colorful doodads that are found now in almost everything. There was some communication involved, with the boss and the clients, but for the most part it was a solitary endeavor of working with Ohms Law, and the Laws of thermal dynamics, rather than the laws of human nature, which is more the essence of politics.

But that is not all bad. I find going off into new directions sort of refreshing and interesting. But I have to admit the first many months on the job, I was pretty much adrift. OK I am president. What am I supposed to be doing? I started attending meetings down at Town Hall, and out at the Fairfax Government Center. I would just randomly sign up on attendance sheets, and listen, for the most part, and learn. It was interesting, but rarely very relevant to Westbriar. I kept on wishing for an issue of some sort.

Then one evening in May, everything changed. I was at a meeting at Westbriar Elementary School cafeteria called by the Fairfax Department of Transportation. The speaker had a big map on the tripod, and was giving an overview of Tysons development, both active and planned. The Dulles Access Road ran along the top of the map. And there was a curious little hook that came down a few inches, aimed south. It wasn’t only me that was realizing where that little hook was, and where it was aimed. Several asked about it. The speaker kept saying, “that will be covered in the next meeting.”

Turns out, DOT was proposing to bury the stream that runs through the woods separating us from Tysons. Put it into a giant culvert and ship the rain runoff downstream into the subdivision north of the Access Road that already has a big lake during heavy rain. Turn the forest into high rise office and residential right up to the back fences of Higdon Drive. What’s a few trees, Hoot Owls and turtles when we can have more tax revenue and a convenient additional exit into Tysons?

The news travelled fast. At the second meeting, May 31, it was standing room only, a food fight, and a great civics lesson for me. A remarkable leader emerged, Pam Konde, who was then the President of Greater Tyson Green Civic Association. Within a month, we had joined forces with 16 other Civic Associations and Home Owner Associations along the stream valley between here and Shouse. We made a web site. I contributed a YouTube. We paid a visit to all ten Supervisors over the summer to explain our position, and left each a carefully compiled notebook with tabbed folders on each major point, with supporting data. Not just tree-hugging stuff. The forest was once privately owned by several different families. We researched all the deeds. Turns out all families turned their land over to the county on the condition that it was never to be touched.

In early autumn , we hosted a huge Bar-B-Q rally in the forest. By then it was front page stuff in all the papers. There were speeches that day by County Supervisors, including Chairman Sharon Bulova, Virginia Delegate Mark Keam, Senator Chap Petersen, then-Delegate Barbara Comstock, others. When our Supervisor, Cathy Hudgins took the microphone, she said “This is a no brainer.” That is when we knew we had nailed it. In January, the plan came before the entire County, was officially killed, and the forest was saved.

Do the citizens have power? You bet they do. Individual voices are OK but have limitations. Groups that speak as one have more power in Real Politik. But either way, both the Town and the County Governments make it easy for the citizens to exert power. They really want to hear from us. It makes things much healthier.

And let me explain that. Most of the work of government is just the day to day housekeeping. The aspects that are most interesting, and are of interest to us, is land usage. The government cannot develop the land. They have to work with developers. And the interests of the developers are not always aligned with the real public good. Without other input, however, things can go wrong. If it is just developers talking to the government, that is not good. Sometimes the government knows it is being gamed, and really wants to have other input. It is only when citizens weigh in that the government can act in the way it is supposed to, which is to be the decider on the arguments offered.

Like a three legged stool is stable. That is the healthy way forward. Both the Vienna Town and the Fairfax County government have exceptional web sites that give massive amounts of information to keep everyone informed about ongoing plans. There are many commissions, committees and focus groups that citizens can join to help things along. They may be low level, but they are the spawning ground for future policy decisions. Keeping an eye out for issues that affect us, especially in the early stages is crucial. By the time an issue hits the newspapers, it is usually too late.

My observations of how power works is sort of like how things work with one’s family, friends or neighbors. Patience, trust-building, reliability. Passion and persistence have a place, but in the end, it is the better argument that wins out. Pitchfork & Torch approaches sometimes win, but in the long run go nowhere. We are fortunate in this area to have sound, responsible and receptive governments. But that is not a given. Think about Detroit and other areas that are struggling. Or my birthplace Chicago, that is currently paying their Lottery winners with IOUs. We have a lot to be happy about living here.

Anyway, enough of that. I will close my remarks by highlighting the proposed Constitutional changes, which are:

Drop the six Standing Committees. This is way too ambitious, and almost sounds like we are maintaining a parallel government, which is not the case at all. We will form and dissolve committees as the need arises. Without all the Standing Committee descriptions, the By-Laws get pretty thin, and the few good parts can easily be moved into the Constitution.

Drop the requirement that a Zone Representatives must live in the Zone he is representing. That is too restrictive and suggests a territorial overtone that is not appropriate. Our collective interests as a civic association are far more important than what particular street we live on. We invite and appreciate help from all.

Hold elections on a four-year cycle rather than the yearly cycle that was the case when the Association was formed back in the 60s. A yearly cycle does not give new blood enough time develop a program, and to meet the people in the town and county governments and establish rapport and credibility.

Divide Zone G, the largest zone into two parts. This is simply to share the work load more equitably, especially with the Luminaria

Membership rules are clarified. One vote per household. Since each house pays $10, it seems more fair.

Drop the Petty Cash clause. All expenditures are now done on a single credit card at Sun Trust, it works fine.

So, in closing, we have a Civic Association that has history, it is distinctive, and it works. Simply it is all about making sure we get our fair share of tax-supported services and attention to keep our neighborhood the way we want it. Safe, attractive, valuable, and forward-looking.

Advantages of having a Civic Association

1. It gives our neighborhood a sense of identity and pride.

2. It has real political power and can help shape development in ways that are advantageous to us.

3. Any realtor will tell you that an active Civic Association is a plus when buying a home, just like good schools or transportation choices, and affects the value of your property. How much? That is hard to quantify. Certainly not 10%. But even if it made your home just 1% more valuable on the market, and your home is worth $500,000, that means you have made $5000 by just contributing $10 per year. You can only do better by winning the Lottery.

We will now get the Treasurer’s Report, and then go to Open Discussion

_____________________________________________

Division of Zone G was voted on and passed unanimously.
The Constitution, with certain changes was voted on and passed unanimously.
No other member came forward as a candidate. The present Westbriar Officers were elected unanimously by acclamation.
The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

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