It's early September and we are coming out of the “dog days” of summer but entering the biggest risk period for hurricanes. We were extremely lucky with Dorian and we always hope to make it through the season without any major storms, but it is important that you are prepared, especially if you are new to the area Be sure to follow the City of St. Petersburg storm alerts on the following sites to get the most up-to-date information for our area including evacuation notices:
On July 5, about 40 VI residents enjoyed “VI Night at the Trop.” It was an exciting game that went into extra innings against the Yankees. Everyone had a great time and received a free Rays hat!!! Many thanks to Mark Brenman for coordinating this event.
Many residents have been asking members of the VI Board to facilitate more social events in Venetian Isles. In line with those requests, we have the following scheduled:
Finally, Don Herring, from the SPPD, notes the following:
I hope to see you “around the Isles!!”
As we head into the summer months, I want to remind you of a few safety measures . If you are traveling, please ask your neighbors to keep an eye on things, including bringing bins back after trash collection. When you are in town, please watch your streets and, to borrow a line from TSA, “if you see something, say something”.
Along those lines, remember to remove valuables from your vehicles when they are parked outside overnight and make sure they are locked. While we had seen a marked decrease in incidents, SPPD is reporting a recent increase in theft activity. An unfortunate property owner recently had a double car theft at his property as a result of leaving his car unlocked with keys to another car inside.
Real estate continues to sell at a fast in VI, and our Hospitality Committee members have been busy delivering welcome gifts to our new neighbors. Several new Homeowners also attended the New Homeowners’ Reception in May. Another one is planned for the Fall.
REMINDER TO PROPERTY OWNERS, NEW AND OLD ALIKE: Any exterior improvement/renovation to your property must be submitted to the Architectural Review Committee for approval at email@example.com Committee Chairman Trip Guinan and his team have committed to responding to requests on a timely basis, but please give this group of volunteers’ appropriate notice for the complexity of the project you are considering.
VI is fortunate to have many good people who work within our community. Most of you know that Stephan, our long-time letter carrier retired earlier this summer. I’d also like to recognize Kelvin from the City sanitation department, who goes above and beyond to provide exceptional service to our neighborhood. If you have others that we could recognize in upcoming issues of Life on the Isles, please forward their names to me.
The VIHA Board and Committees are working on several events for the Fall, including the Golf Tournament, Fishing Tournament and Oktoberfest, which is set for October 19. Stay tuned for details.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and hope to see you “around the Isles!!”
Note this letter also appeared in the August issue of Life on the Isles
JULY PRESIDENT'S LETTER
Hope you are enjoying the warmer weather of late, we knew it was going to come!!!!. That should serve as a reminder to think about hurricane preparedness planning, especially if you are a new homeowner. I describe life in Venetian Isles as 360 days a year of pure beauty and 5 days a year of pure terror. Please make sure you are prepared. As we learned with Hurricane Irma in 2017, it doesn’t take a “direct hit” to cause complications when you live on the water!!! You can sign up for emergency alerts from the City of St. Petersburg at http://www.stpete.org/news/alert_stpete.php
Quality Property Management (“QPM”) has been on the job assisting the VIHA with Deed Restriction (“DR”) compliance and violation notification and so far the reviews from the community have been good. We will keep working with QPM to continue to improve the DR compliance efforts.
As a result of QPM freeing up Board Members time, the Deed Restriction Revision Committee (“DRRC”) is well along in the process of updating / modifying the Deed Restrictions that cause the most confusion within the community or are outdated. We will plan on bringing the proposed DR revisions to the community at the October General Meeting.
Committees are working on bringing back the VIHA. Golf Tournament and creating the First Annual VIHA Fishing Tournament this Fall. Look for more information soon. If you’re interested in helping with the planning or sponsorship of these events or Oktoberfest, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In May, there were two fun neighborhood events. The first was the semi-annual New Homeowner Orientation, attended by over 50 people. Massachusetts Avenue residents, Debbie and George Sayegh supplied delicious food from their restaurant Bodega on Central Avenue. The second event was the Life on the Isles “Flamingo Friday” Block Party at the home of Tom and Michelle Williams. Tom and Michelle are the owners of St. Pete Brewing and they had plenty of their excellent product flowing. I hope you’ll patronize these great businesses, owned and operated by VI residents. Please let me know if you are a small business owner so we can introduce you to the VI community.
As always, I welcome your feedback so please contact me if you have any comments or suggestions on the above or other topics. Have a great summer and hope to see you “around the Isles!!”
A few things to bring to your attention from the V.I.H.A:
Quality Property Management ("QPM")
You should have received a letter of introduction from QPM after a one-year agreement was signed in February, 2019. Many people, myself included, have referred to QPM as “our management company.” This overstates the level of services that we have contracted with them. QPM will:
Deed Restriction Revision Committee (“DRRC”)
One of the reasons that I stated that V.I.H.A. needed assistance from QPM is that we knew the Deed Restrictions ("DRs"), many of which have been in place since the late 1970’s, needed to be revised; however, we lacked sufficient volunteer hours to complete the revision concurrent with DR enforcement.
I’m happy to report that the DRRC has been formed and is beginning the process of identifying those DRs that should be the priority for revision. If you have an opinion on DRs that should be considered for revision, please let me know. As a reminder, any proposed revision of, or new addition to, the DRs needs to be approved by 66.67% of property owners.
Neighborhood Garage Sale
The annual VI Garage Sale occurred on April 6 and seemed like a huge success, given the number of cars driving through the neighborhood. Many thanks to Bayside Sports Academy, who sponsored this event (and Lindsey Germann for referring this sponsor to us).
V.I.H.A. Night at the Trop
We will be hosting a Venetian Isles Night at Tropicana Field on Friday, July 5th at 7:10 p.m.
The Tampa Bay Rays will be playing the New York Yankees. We have great seats in Section 124 (lower level) for a special price of $40.00 (regularly $75.00), including a free Rays hat. Contact Mark Brenman at email@example.com by June 15 to reserve your seat. Seating is limited.
Partnership with Life on the Isles
I'm pleased to announce a new cooperative effort between V.I.H.A. and the free monthly publication Life on the Isles. The goal of this partnership is to improve the quality of communications in Venetian Isles. In addition to the V.I.H.A. emails and website, look for a President's Letter and other content in future issues to keep property owners abreast of current happenings.
Have a great summer everyone and remember your “hurricane preparedness!!!”
December 11, 2018
There are a couple of items that I want to update the community on as we head into the Holiday Season, a time when V.I. really “shines” with some incredible holiday decorations and our beautiful seawall luminary display on Christmas Eve. For more information on this special Venetian Isles tradition and how you can purchase candles from the Hospitality Committee, please visit www.ourvi.org/ the source for all your information on life in V.I.
Passing of Bob Johnson
Many of you knew Bob from his countless years on the V.I.H.A. Board or serving on numerous V.I.H.A. committees. Bob passed away on December 8. Bob was as committed in his efforts to maintain V.I. as the highest quality residential community as anyone. Bob was the original owner of his house on Kansas and lived in V.I. since the early 1970’s. V.I. is a better place because of Bob Johnson and he will be missed. Our thoughts are with Bob’s family as they mourn his passing.
We held a General Meeting for V.I. residents on October 11 where representatives of Qualified Property Management (“QPM”) were in attendance to introduce themselves to the community, make a brief presentation on their company and the services they provide, and answer any property owner questions. As we have discussed previously, the V.I.H.A. Board has been doing diligence on management companies in an effort to provide support for various functions, given the reduction in volunteer hours that V.I.H.A. members are able to commit. Some concerns that were raised at the General Meeting related to oversight of the management company and cost. First and foremost, if a management company is retained they work for V.I.H.A. and V.I. – not the other way around. The V.I.H.A. Board continues to set the policies and procedures and the management company follows them. Frank Saccone from QPM made a statement that really resonated with me. He said that homeowners are used to paying $85 - $100/month for lawn services and a similar amount for pool services, yet they are reluctant to pay a small fraction of that to protect the value of one of their biggest assets. The ad hoc committee formed to evaluate management companies has reviewed a proposed contract from QPM and discussion of this contract will likely occur at the V.I.H.A. Board meeting on December 17, 2018 at 6:00 pm at LCC Day School.
It was clear at the General Meeting that there is a wide range of opinions on the retention of a management company, as there are on many V.I.H.A. issues. The V.I.H.A. Board has taken over a year to diligence and review management companies. If we do retain a management company, it is because we have thoroughly researched it and believe it is in the best interests of our community. I hope that you recognize the effort that has gone into this process and will support the Board’s decision regardless of the ultimate decision.
2019 Dues Letters
Dues letters for 2019 will be mailed concurrent with the release of this “State of the Isles”. Annual dues for 2019, approved by the V.I.H.A. Board at the October Board meeting, will be $150.00. This is the first increase in V.I.H.A. dues in seven years and represents a monthly cost of $12.50. The increase in 2019 annual dues is not the result of an increase in costs related to the potential retention of a management company, but is a function of increases in maintenance of our limited common areas, reclaimed water, utilities and insurance, among others. There have been noticeable improvements to V.I. that are all made possible by the commitment of V.I.H.A. members.
Lisa Schwartz and members of the Beautification Committee have done a great job with the entrance to V.I. on Overlook and the new monuments that have been completed and are awaiting final inspection by the City. I’d like to also thank: (i) Steve Cropper, who recently spread 300 pounds of fertilizer along Grand Canal and Overlook and repaired all the sprinklers; (ii) Mark Brenman and Lisa Schwartz, who spread 19 bags of mulch predominantly on Overlook; (iii) Janet DeBiasio, who served as the point person for the replacement of a palm tree around Illinois Ave and Grand Canal; and, (iv) Jaren Wright, Janet, Steve and Mark, who made sure there was sufficient water for the plants at the new monuments. This is just an example of the commitment made by V.I.H.A. members to keep our community looking as attractive as it does. Just a reminder that these improvements are funded, in part, with revenues that are generated from advertisements in the “Venetian Isles Directory of Homeowners”. Please patronize those firms that are advertising in the Directory and making V.I. a better community.
As of this date, we will have five open positions on the V.I.H.A. Board in 2019. Elections will be held at the Annual Meeting on January 24. As I have written previously, it is critical that we get new members of the Board to generate fresh ideas and different perspectives. Please let me know if you have an interest.
Another successful event on Oktoberfest that saw attendance of 300+ persons at the Kansas South cul-de-sac. Thanks to the Michigan Grillers, the volunteers and the sponsors who made this event such a success. Photos of the event are posted on http://www.ourvi.org/latest-news/archives/10-2018
St. Pete PD has advised us that the first case of “front step package theft” has occurred in V.I. Please make every effort to remove your packages from your doorways ASAP or have a neighbor do so, if possible.
Hope to see you at the Annual Meeting on January 24 at 7:00pm at Lutheran Church of the Cross. A social event will be held prior to the meeting starting at 6:30pm.
Have a happy and safe holiday season. Don’t forget to light your seawall candles at 6:00pm on December 24th!!!! As always, feel free to contact me at the email address below. Please see http://www.ourvi.org/ for additional info. Thank you.
September 25, 2018
I have a few quick items to cover as we leave summer and head into fall, a beautiful time of the year in V.I.
In the “State of the Isles” dated August 29, 2018, I wrote that we needed approximately 46 volunteers to fully staff all the V.I committees and preclude the need for a management company. We are very grateful to the VI residents who answered that call and volunteered for a committee position; however, we fell far short of the 46 positions that we needed to fill.
As a result of the volunteer shortfall, the V.I.H.A. Board has continued to research third-party property management companies that could supplement the volunteer base that has been developed. Representatives from Qualified Property Management will attend the General Meeting on October 11, 2018 (6:30 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Cross) and make a presentation on how the services they provide will make V.I. a better community. They will be available to answer resident questions after their presentation.
2019 V.I.H.A. Board Nominations
In November nominations will open for the 2019 V.I.H.A. Board and elections will be held at the Annual Meeting in January. We are in need of new Board members with new ideas to continue to propel the V.I.H.A. forward and meet the demands of a new group of residents. With all the home sales over the past 3 years, this would be the perfect time for you to consider joining the next generation of leadership within the V.I.H.A.. Please contact any of the V.I.H.A. Board members for more information.
Parking Survey Results
An overwhelming majority of the respondents to the survey on the placement of “No Parking” signs within V.I. were opposed to installing these signs on V.I. streets. Please remember that Deed Restriction #35 requires that “vehicles will be parked on the even numbered sides of the thoroughfare in accordance with the provisions of City Ordinances in order to make way for fire and police protection.” Please make sure your guests and contractors abide by this important restriction so that a life or property are not endangered.
Lisa Schwartz and members of the Beautification Committee have done a great job with the entrance to V.I. on Overlook and the new monuments that are in the final stages of construction. Just a reminder that these improvements are funded, in part, with revenues that are generated from advertisements in the “Venetian Isles Directory of Homeowners.” Advertisements in publications such as “Life on the Isles” do not benefit V.I. residents. Please patronize those firms that are advertising in the Directory and making V.I. a better community.
Our annual Oktoberfest party will be held on Saturday, October 20th from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. Join your neighbors for brats, beer, music and children's activities on Kansas Ave. South. Volunteers are needed for 30 minute shifts. If you are interested in helping out, please contact Julie at 727-525-0477.
Hope to see you at the General Meeting on October 11. Please see www.ourvi.org for additional info.
August 31, 2018
In the “State of the Isles” that was dated July 7, 2018, I wrote that the VIHA Board would “continue to research a cost-effective way to have third-party property management services that would not be dependent on mandatory dues which we hope to be able to discuss at the October General Meeting. If you have any suggestions, please let us know.”
In response to questions that several residents had subsequent to that letter, the VIHA Board did an analysis of the number of active volunteers within VI and estimated the number of additional volunteers required to perform all the functions necessary such that a management company would not be needed. The results of that study are shown below.
In summary, there are 54 active volunteers for all the VI committees that come from 48 residences which represents 10.3% and 9.1%, respectively, of the total lots covered by the deed restrictions (525). These 54 volunteers fill a total of 67 different committee positions. The committee heads have indicated that the total committee needs aggregate 113 positions leaving us 46 positions to be filled if we want to maintain the same level of service within the community and not retain a management company.
Please contact any member of the VIHA Board or committee head if you have an interest in serving on a particular committee to help us meet that goal of 46. That contact information is on the website at http://http://www.ourvi.org/viha-committees.html
I hope you had a great Independence Day and have some exciting plans for the summer. Here is a quick overview of things that are going on within Venetian Isles.
Management Company Update:
As communicated at the Annual Meeting as well as in the March “State of the Isles” letter, the V.I.H.A. Board has formed a committee to evaluate engaging a property management company to assist with day-to-day functions, instead of relying on volunteers. This has become necessary given that fewer people are able to commit their time and longtime volunteers are no longer able to contribute as many hours as they have in the past.
We had scheduled a Town Hall meeting in May where property management companies could provide an overview of their services and answer residents’ questions. However, we cancelled the meeting due to the need for additional due diligence. The committee has completed further due diligence, including conversations with legal counsel, which indicate that transitioning the “voluntary” membership in the V.I.H.A. to a “mandatory” membership, including the requirement to pay annual dues, is an initiative that would prove to be tremendously difficult to implement and might not be legally enforceable.
That leaves the V.I.H.A. with the same problem: effectively enforcing Deed Restrictions and seeking to improve our community with a shrinking volunteer base. The Board will continue to research a cost-effective way to have third-party property management services that would not be dependent on mandatory dues which we hope to be able to discuss at the October General Meeting. If you have any suggestions, please let us know.
Maintaining high standards dictated by the Deed Restrictions and continued community improvements have contributed to increasing real estate values in V.I. We recently added a graph to the www.ourvi.org homepage which tracks “Property Sales in Venetian Isles” that shows a positive trend. We plan to update and share this graph regularly. Our thanks to Thomas Flynn for compiling these statistics.
“Better Idea Time”
Subsequent to the release of the March “State of the Isles” and my mid-April update, there was quite a lot of “chatter” on the “Next Door” website about the concept of mandatory dues. Let me make the following points to clarify some of the issues that were raised:
Work is almost complete on the Overlook Bridge entrance to VI. Accent lights have been installed on the trees and additional landscaping will be finished by August 1.
I get a report every week from our Community Police Officer which averages maybe one call a week. There was one burglary of a vehicle in the past month, but the vehicle was left unlocked. Please remember to remove items of value from your cars and keep them locked so we can continue with this positive trend.
Hurricane season is upon us so, especially for those new residents of VI, be prepared by having all the recommended supplies. There are numerous hurricane preparedness guides available online, including the City of St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay Times and local TV station websites.
April 22, 2018
I wanted to share a few updates that impact our community in between the quarterly “State of the Isles” letters that are emailed to VIHA residents and posted to http://ourvi.org
We recently sent out a survey to V.I.H.A. members to gauge preliminary interest in hiring a property management company to take over some of the functions currently performed by volunteers. If you did not receive an email survey, and are a 2018 dues-payer, it is because we do not have a valid email address on file. If you would like to participate in the survey, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To date we have received 128 survey responses, a response rate of about 50% (based upon the number of “active” property owner emails that we have on file) with 78% who agree with the statement made in the survey, 17% who disagreed and 5% who were neutral. What was most interesting were the extensive comments that we received. After review of these comments, the V.I.H.A. Board recognized that we need to conduct more due diligence on this issue so we will cancel the “Town Hall” meeting that was scheduled for May 3and reschedule that for some time in the fall.
As you may have noticed, the grass by the bridge on Overlook is brown. This is intentional as the City will be soon be installing an updated sprinkler system and replacing all the existing grass with Bitter Blue sod. The City will also be trimming the hedges, removing weeds and dead vegetation and replacing several green ficus plants. Once the work is completed, we will be hiring a company to maintain the new landscaping on Overlook Drive.. In addition, we will be installing new electrical service in order to power the irrigation system and light the palm trees.
The City has completed the final phase of the traffic calming device on Overlook Drive. While I do not respond to comments on social media, I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify a few points:
ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW COMMITTEE
I’d like to thank Trip Guinan for assuming the role as chair of the ARC and thank Scott Boyle for his many years of service. Trip is an architect and has been a long-time member of this committee.
Please feel free to email with any comments that you may have – email@example.com. Thank you.
March 31, 2018
I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend and enjoyed the temperatures and as we start to see heat of summer ahead of us. Lots going on in Venetian Isles so let me give you an overview.
Annual Meeting: John Romano, long-time columnist for the Tampa Bay Times was the guest speaker at the Annual Meeting on January 23. John’s “no-nonsense, common sense” perspective on many of the significant issues that impact the Tampa Bay area certainly was brought to this meeting. While not everyone necessarily agreed with John’s perspective on certain ideas, the conversation was robust and enlightening for many. If you have a suggestion for a speaker for future meetings please let me know and we will try to schedule that person.
Town Hall Meeting: At the Annual Meeting I disclosed that the V.I.H.A. has formed a committee to evaluate property management companies to assist with the day to day functions required to maintain Venetian Isles. Long-time volunteers are either moving from our community or are unable to continue with the number of hours that they have contributed in the past and are not being replaced. A management company would be beneficial in supporting the efforts of a committed group of volunteers to assure that our community retains its high quality of life. We have scheduled a Town Hall Meeting on May 3, 2018at 7:00 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Cross, with a social event starting at 6:30pm sponsored by Northstar Realty. A representative of one of the companies we have been speaking with will be on hand to provide an overview of their services and answer any questions.
Life on the Isles Publication: Many of you have seen a new publication that was mailed in mid-March titled “Life on the Isles.” This publication is prepared by N2 Publishing, a North Carolina based firm, and has no connection to, nor endorsement from, the V.I.H.A. The V.I.H.A. has no control over any of the editorial content in this publication and the advertising dollars they collect are not used to benefit projects in V.I. Those companies that advertise in our Annual Directory, a copy of which is provided to each homeowner who pays their VIHA dues, have been instrumental in funding beautification projects (see Beautification Items below) throughout V.I. and we encourage you to patronize those companies who support VI directly.
Traffic Calming: I guess “the third time’s a charm!!!” After the third try, the City finally installed the traffic calming device on Overlook that was approved in October 2017 by a City ballot in Venetian Isles. On Friday, March 30, the City’s contractor completed the brick imprinting that had been anticipated. You undoubtedly have noticed when entering V.I. from the Overlook bridge that there is a small bump before you actually get to the speed hump. That was caused by the City having to “re-pave” that short section and there is nothing they can do about that “bump.” I have not gotten many comments from residents within VI about this, but of those that I have received, the vast majority have been positive. We will work with the City to study the impact on speeds on Overlook to see if it has had the intended result. After assessing that information, the Traffic Calming Committee will decide how to proceed with similar devices on Grand Canal.
Beautificaton: City repair of the seawalls in V.I. continue should be completed in April 2018. The section between Hawaii and Carolina was the most recent to be repaired.
The street light that was damaged with the collapse of the seawall between Overlook and Massachusetts was finally replaced. But as several of you have noted to me, there is an overhead wire from the light closer to the corner of Overlook that runs to this street light. We are working with the City to get this line buried as the previous one was.
In the December issue of State of the Isles I included a photo of the monument to replace those at the three entrances to V.I. (including Mermaid Point) using funds that have been generated from sources other than V.I.H.A. dues (thank you to our advertisers!!!!). Upon issuance of a purchase order by the City, V.I.H.A. will apply to the City for a matching grant and then begin installation.
Property of the Month: Different streets are randomly selected each month and for this award are randomly selected and a committee selects the winner based on the curb appeal. 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 the first quarter of 2018 are:
Text Messaging System: The V.I.H.A. Communications Committee has launched a text alert system to notify participants of important neighborhood information, which will be especially important as we head into storm season. To subscribe , text “VIHA” to 77948. You will then receive a text confirming that you have “opted in” to receive messages from V.I.H.A.
Let me know of things that you see and hear in V.I. via email or phone. Please understand that I do not respond to posts on social media sites regarding V.I.H.A. matters.
Hope to see you all at the Town Hall Meeting on May 3!!!