Mid-Year President's Letter
In last quarters’ President’s Letter I wrote that “there is change aplenty happening in VI.” Much of this letter will be devoted to the changes that are occurring/will occur/need to occur in VI in the near future. I’ll need your help in order to implement those changes. But first is the news of VI.
So far in 2017 a total of 15 homes have sold within VI. Mass. North appears to be the “hot block” with four new residents since January 1. New residents should have already had a visit from the Hospitality Committee welcoming you to the neighborhood. Please take the opportunity to welcome your new neighbors to VI.
On May 4 the VIHA hosted a Town Hall meeting to discuss the traffic calming initiatives that have been proposed. See “Survey Review” below to see that speeding in VI is still very much of a concern. Mike Frederick from the City of St. Petersburg Department of Transportation and Parking Management was introduced by Brandon Cathey, Chair of the VI Traffic Calming Committee. Mike began the meeting by explaining the confusion around the information that was circulated throughout VI last summer regarding traffic calming devices. The second part of his presentation outlined the “speed study” that was conducted in VI in April 2017. Sensors were set up on Grand Canal between (i) Montana and Michigan and (ii) Iowa and Illinois as well as on Overlook Drive. Results of the study were as follows:
Standards are such that a traffic calming plan would be developed by the City when average speeds exceed 10 mph over the posted speed limit. The speed limit is 25 mph within all of VI. Brandon then led a Q &A/discussion on the relative merits of traffic calming measures with the approximately 40 VI residents in attendance. The process for installation of any type of traffic calming device requires 3 steps. The first step is that 66.7% of the people on the street where the speeds were measured in excess of 35 mph must sign a petition in favor of having a traffic calming plan for their street. The second step is that a traffic calming plan needs to be developed for the community by the City. The third and final step is that the City will ballot all the residents in VI to determine whether a majority of voters are in favor of the installation of a traffic calming device. Steps 1 and 2 have already been completed. The City will likely initiate the balloting process as part of Step 3 beginning after Labor Day. Watch your mail and be sure to return your ballot in the time allotted for your vote to count.
Overlook Ave. Bridge:
Undoubtedly, if you enter VI via Overlook Blvd. you’ve notice some “disruption” to the recently created common areas on the east side after passing over the bridge. The Beautification Committee requested that the City remove some vegetation from that area and when they did it was discovered that there were two undiscovered seawall failures. The City started repairing the seawalls on June 27 and it is expected to take three days to complete. Upon completion of the repairs an additional two Royal Palms will be installed in that area to maintain the attractive entrance to VI.
Property of the Month:
As I described in last quarters President’s Letter, streets are randomly elected and a committee selects a winner. The winner receives a gift certificate courtesy of Dolan’s Nursery and the “Property of the Month” sign which is displayed prominently. The winners for 2017 to date are:
Congratulations to each of the above and “thank you” for taking extraordinary care of your properties. See photos of all the winners on www.ourvi.org and under “News and Events” look for “2017 Properties of the Month.”
Crime and safety were some of the concerns raised by VI residents in the recent survey. In response to this, Cindy Oatess is organizing a Crime Watch for VI after completing the necessary training to become a Coordinator. Signs have been ordered and will be installed at the three entrances to VI. Please contact Cindy at email@example.com if you would like to be involved.
Last quarter I set forth some questions and answers that we frequently hear. These are now on the website under the “Residents/VI FAQs” tab. Please let me know of any other questions that you think should be addressed in this section of the website.
See Click Fix:
In the survey referenced below, many of the comments related to having the City repair certain items such as potholes, seawalls, curbing, etc…. The City has a great app called SeeClickFix St Pete. Don’t depend on someone else reporting something that needs to be corrected, if you see something SeeClickFix and the City will investigate. You can visit the SeeClickFix website at: https://seeclickfix.com . If they are slow to respond to a particular situation please make sure to let our councilman, Ed Montanari, know about it – firstname.lastname@example.org.
VI Based Businesses:
If you are a VI resident who owns/operates a business consider becoming a “VI sponsor” which includes advertising in the Directory of Homeowners and on the website. Additional advertising opportunities in the Directory of Homeowners are also available. Information is available on www.ourvi.org.
Earlier this year the Communications Committee developed a survey asking for feedback on a number of questions. 195 responses were received (15% of which were from non-VIHA members), representing approximately 37% of the properties in VI, and have been posted to the website under the “Residents/2017 Homeowner Survey Results…..” tab. I don’t have space to review all the questions/responses here but I’d urge you to take a few minutes to review the results on the website.
There were a lot of great comments in this survey ranging from “I love living in VI” to others that “suggested” room for improvement. I have always said I will take any and all suggestions and I appreciate the feedback. Here are some of the items to note that were not addressed above:
- Everyone wants more “social activities” – totally agree, I love a good party as much as anyone. We just need people to step forward and agree to lead the charge on an activity, such as a spring social, because the current group of VIHA volunteers does not have the “bandwidth” to take it on. Let’s have a real strong showing for Oktoberfest this year and see what we can do to build on that. We will be soliciting volunteers at both the Oktoberfest and the fall General Meeting.
- “Communicate” less “aggressively” – we are examining all our correspondence, particularly with respect to Deed Restriction violations, to attempt to make them less confrontational and more informational, hopefully this will cause property owners to take more immediate corrective action and eliminate a time-consuming, and frustrating, series of letters that, in the worst case, leads to legal action.
- Deed Restrictions – Plenty of comments about Deed Restrictions, some positive and some not so much so. Two things I would hope to make clear. First, Deed Restrictions are here to stay. Every one of us who purchased our properties understood this to be a Deed Restricted Community. Second, the Deed Restrictions, originally recorded in 1978, NEED to be updated. No debate about that. Changes in construction methods, materials, resident perspectives, etc…. have all changed drastically over the course of the past 40 years. The Deed Restrictions have been amended a number of times since 1978 but they need a full review. This will be a HUGE undertaking and it will require significant effort. Per the Deed Restrictions, any change has to be approved by 66.67% of the property owners in VI. If you voiced concerns about the Deed Restrictions and the way they are applied by the Deed Restriction Committee or the Architectural Review Committee then I urge you to volunteer to become a member of the Deed Restriction Revision Committee or communicate your thoughts directly, and succinctly, to me or any of the other VIHA Board members.
Finally, the survey made clear that property owners want to see change and consistency. VIHA continues to function as a result of the dedication of a small number of volunteers. The survey led to the identification of a number of people who have agreed to volunteer their time for VI activities (thank you so much to those who did so); however, 60% of the survey respondents replied that they did not have the time to volunteer in the community. I understand that, we all lead busy lives. We need to continue to recruit volunteers that are able to commit the time and effort matching that of a small group that have been active in VIHA for years and made this the community what it is today. Long-term, I do not see the ability to provide the increasing level of services that property owners are requesting (and deserve) on a consistent basis as our long-term volunteer base is looking to transition their duties on to others and only 65%+/- of the property owners are members of the VIHA. Personally, I think that to move this organization forward and meet the expectations of the property owners we will need to, once again, consider the retention of a management company to augment the efforts of our volunteer base which can only be done with 100% of the property owners contributing to the ongoing costs of your community. Certainly lots of additional discussion needs to occur but I thought it was time to introduce the topic.
Let me know of things that you see and hear in VI. Have a great 4th of July weekend. Be safe and be prepared for our summer storms and the potential for a hurricane!!!