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Reply to outgoing MVF/SVHC President

REPORT FROM DEPARTINGSVHC PRESIDENTROBERT SPARKS: "I will keep this short and to the point.While the business aspects of the association are in good shape, South Village faces a significant problem. And it is one which the association cannot fix. It is apathy.The vast majority of the homeowners in South Village do not care about the community. They don't read the Village News, since they don't bother to pick it up from their driveways and doorsteps,instead letting it become soggy trash for someone else to dispose of. They don't attend meetings, unless it is to complain about something very local and usuallyvery personal. They are lackadaisical about paying the assessments which provide for community maintenance and services. They are indifferent to community standards for parking, noise, public behavior and trash disposal.They allow their properties to fall into disrepair, creating eyesores and undermining neighbors' investments. Every community has residents who just sleep there. When only a few such are balanced by significant numbers who participate, things can be good. When the balance shifts, the community suffers. South Village was unable to make quorum for its annual meeting in February.It takes only 101 valid ballots and/or attendees. Just one household in ten!But homeowners couldn't be bothered.The same thing happened last year, and several times before that. Candidates for the annual election of board members were hard to come by. No one in the community volunteered and it took a draft to convince several civic-minded souls to stand.Three members of the current board are no longer residents or homeowners in South Village, but remain involved only because no replacements can be found. Several sitting directors have so much difficulty balancing their volunteer work on the board with the demands of career and home life that they have missed multiple meetings over the past year. On one occasion, the board itself could not make quorum and could not conduct its monthly meeting.All of this does not bode well for the future. The doers are disappearing, the complainers proliferate and the vast majority ignore the community. Until residents, and particularly homeowners,take the time to read the association documents, think a bit about what the community really is and how it operates and then pitch in and participate, things will not improve. South Village is not a government, it is a corporation. It does not have police, courts, jails or fines.The community cannot force people to be good citizens and neighbors.There are a few who still care about South Village. If you are hearing this,or reading it, then you are probably one of those who care. Thank you for that.Keep caring, and good luck." MY COMMENT to these parting words which appeared in the April 4, 2014 edition of the Village News on page 18.  Though the outgoing President's words speak volumes, it is not the entire 'sad story' here.  There seems to be and can't be totally placement of blame on Village residents (homeowners) for the deteriorating demise of South Montgomery Village.  When residents (this current writer making this comment)have been clamoring for the presence of elected HOA/SVHC for decades and sending alerts along with photographs begging for HOA's presence in fulfilling the responsibilities (responsibilities are a two-way street...both homeowner and HOA to work together) listed when they procured their 'corporation status' (which basically gave themauthority to mandate assessment fees for oversight and enforcement not performed/homeowners' investment not protected as promised in those corporation documents) and SVHC waited decades to begin 'serious inspections' of communities, then that corporation needs to step up to the plate and accept partial and largest % of responsibility of deteriorating communities.  For years have literally begged the "Umbrella of the Village"/Montgomery Village Foundation to get more involved in working with HOA's.  This ping-ponging concerned residents back and forth with 'that's not our responsibility; you need to take that up with your HOA.  So, MVF i.e. would issue Notice of Citation for front door that had not gone through their 'approval' or was a tad off  'acceptable color' but they would ignore the shamble residence that was right next door to this God forbid 'front door that supposedly "adversely affected property value"'.  And they weren't even getting back to the HOA i.e. to inform them that, while citing an architectural issue, they had also observed an HOA maintenance issue.  Talk about continued 'tunnel vision' and lack of joint effort in bringing communities up to 'acceptable and livable standards'.  Geesch!  One specific community was constructed in 1981 (I know the history as I am an original owner in that community) is just now seeing 'action' (Village hired and volunteers as well) just now performing what I can only hope to be 'thorough inspections, follow up and resolve'.  Now that too speaks volumes of the 'lack of representation and oversight' promised to protect the market value of my home when I signed purchase contract and also agreed to pay them mandated quarterly payments for that 'Protection Package Deal'.  Hummm!  Took from 1981 to 2014 to see some SERIOUSNESS here.  Pathetic!  In the meantime, most homes (at least in South Village though I really have observed the same dire condition in communities under MVF and other HOA's) resemble 'abandoned government housing projects'.  And, when you have one past President of an HOA (won't name which) loud and clear in the Village News that (paraphrased) 'we can't and don't want to force residents to maintain their homes 'cause maybe they don't have the money and we don't want to force them out of the neighborhood'.  That remark was BEYOND INSANE!!!!  I would be semi-happy just to see some of the homes in my community that have not seen a paintbrush (or any basic maintenance) since 1981 construction of community be held responsible for 'slapping a darn coat of paint' on the rotted home.  Hummm!  Yes, Mr Starks, there have been and are those of us who care and who have 'behind the scenes' working (taking our personal time to walk around neighborhood inspecting & providing photos to 'phantom representatives) relentlessly to bring neighborhood out of the depths of hell.  But we are also the ones that find ourselves, for speaking out, on the receiving end of (beyond suspicious) targeting and retaliation (agenda to shut us up and hope we are not just silenced but go away) by the (should be) embarrassed Powers That Be who have been dysfunctional and derelict in their (promised) duties.
Sharon June 12, 2014 at 12:30 PM
"Flourishing in the Village" should not suddenly be some new concept/brainstorm costing the Village a 'ton of money' to put the 'word out there to general public' in order to entice folks to 'buy into the Village'. Flourishing in the Village should have been a daily, ongoing pursuit from the moment the Kettler Brothers planned this community and when it was handed over to the Foundation and individual HOA's. The ball was dropped and now the remedy seems to be a 'colorful catalog' & extensive PR to catch up after sitting back smuggling believing the Village 'had it made in the shade' under a dead, sappy pine tree. Hummm! I keep coming back to this analogy when I think of the Village: One does not give birth to a child (at least, not a good, loving parent) only to relinquish responsibility of supervision or even walk away from that child entirely. Then return i.e. 50 years later, reintroduce themselves to that child they no longer know or recognize and have the gall to wonder what the heck happened to that child who has gone 'amuck'...why that now adult in front of them (basically abandoned at birth) lacks moral character, sense of purpose and direction, integrity, etc Then, as neglectful, absent parents, they somehow have the gall to disavow responsibility for that 'stranger' (offspring) you turned your back on when he or she needed you the most...the formative years. 50 years is an eternity (and impossibility) trying to 'catch up' on 'outright desertion', ya know! That so applies to too many communities within Montgomery Village! Abandoned at conception (construction); lost,defeated souls as adults (aging communities).
Sharon June 13, 2014 at 10:30 AM
There is 'some' truth in the adage "better late than never". But, as of this week, I have never seen so much activity (volunteers inspecting homes in my 34 year old community). The last time I saw such 'sudden interest' was back in 2005 when Douglas Duncan was kind enough and concerned enough from my communications even with him (out of my desperation for what I was witnessing around me) to schedule a meeting with this one lone Village homeowner and eight (8) of his County representatives along with my HOA representatives (?) and The Management Group who were contracted by my HOA to oversee South Village communities. I had hoped that meeting would have taken place for the sole purpose of invited parties brainstorming with my HOA and the contracted property managers of my community to present their report of possible solutions. Unfortunately, it turned out feeling more like a 'gang attack' from my very own HOA to discredit my genuine concerns. Only the day before did I witness both entities (HOA and TMGA Inc) running around my neighborhood like 'chickens with their heads cut off' trying to present 'some sort of defensive case'. How does one defend deteriorating homes, eternal deposits of trash and litter and bulk around the perimeter of a community (therefore, visible for all and so very embarrassing to those of us who purchased our homes)! Rhetorical! How does one defend the fact that in 2003 one community was literally 'infested' with rats that ran the corridors not just at night but during the day 'in packs'! And just imagine the health issue and stench! I might add that 'rat bait boxes' were set up in 2003 around entire community and to this day are a 'permanent fixture' in my community. I perceive that as neither 'curb appeal' or an amenity or enticement to anyone viewing my 'meticulously-cared for' home when and if I decided to place on the market. The recession didn't kill the market value of South Village Homes. A basically absent and indifferent HOA caused that!
Sharon June 13, 2014 at 10:31 AM
Continuation of comment: Though I had also kept up communication with The Powers That Be and even spent my own personal time out of deep concern and frustration, they came out of meeting almost gloating stating I was not an involved member of the community simply because "we have tried to convince Ms ----- to come to meetings but we have been unsuccessful". I purchased a home in the Village with a promise from them to oversee and enforce 'livable standards'. There was nothing in that contract between us that stated in order to be represented I was mandated to attend meetings. My so-called 'membership' in the Village occurred the moment I signed on dotted line of home purchase contract and continued via my paid mandated assessment fees; it was not based on my 'attendance record' at MVF or SVHC monthly meetings!! (And, when I did attend meetings, like all other residents I was 'allowed' three minutes' to speak! Not difficult to do, I guess, if resident doesn't take any breaths and doesn't swallow! Hummm!) I also faithfully paid this 'corporation' on time and 'in full' quarterly mandated assessment fees in addition to i.e. mortgage payments, property taxes and for the continued and faithful, out-of-pocket maintenance of my home and 'my investment'. The meeting was a farce. I didn't blame or hold hard feelings against the County reps who were present though there was a question thereafter when a neighbor of mine who could not attend meeting due to conflicting schedule requested 'Minutes of Meeting' and we both discovered 'none' had been taken! They were somewhat in the dark as to why meeting was called. They assumed it was basically to describe their job responsibilities. God knows I knew what their 'job descriptions' were because I had spent years contacting them desperately asking for their assistance because of an absent HOA. The Director of TMGA Inc with her neat little (prepared the day before) presentation had them all hoodwinked. I could write a book regarding my experiences over the years living under the now hospice care of South Village HOA. But I will save that Best Seller for a later date. I will just end this 'comment novel' by repeating...."Better late than never" in getting a grip on communities that have been allowed to turn into, by all appearance, deserted government housing projects!
Sharon June 13, 2014 at 11:06 AM
I so need to add.... Even a Councilman and his assistant, when in community for a separate issue (the guest for adequate playground for our children, ALL children of the Village) both made unsolicited remark from their observation which was "this neighborhood shows signs of neglect". I thanked them for their honesty (though it added more embarrassment and humiliation for me that I sadly have felt for years) because, up until that point, my so-called representatives were trying, it seemed, to convince me I was 'hallucinating' or just someone with nothing better to do than complain and 'make up fantasy tales'. HOA even tried to convince me "you are the only one complaining; seems everyone else is happy". They knew that to be false as well 'cause, during my walks around community and photo taking many residents approached me asking what 'I' could do to assist them and what they could do ('cause they were fed up) because "our calls to MVF and SVHC are not returned". When they did reach number SVHC informed us to call for community issues, they often got response "well, I'm not sure what the policy is. I'll have to check and get back to you!" (which, unfortunately, they 'did not'). If SVHC was gonna 'announce' and even post in the Village News under South Village Scenes a phone number for residents with problems/issues to call, there sure as hell should have been someone on the other end of that phone who could answer the question! Ya think?!!! Hummm!
Sharon June 13, 2014 at 01:15 PM
Read this (hopefully final) comment and weep! I have also had so-called 'representative' actually tell me "if you don't like it, why don't you JUST move". Not a question; more of an arrogant statement. Yep, the Village advertises itself as 'family oriented' but, if a family member speaks out (particularly with legitimate concerns and with willingness to work with them), you are disowned and considered the black sheep that they want to expel from the drove! So much for 'family'. I have noticed they never responded when I told them, if they purchased my 'forever' (24/7) maintained home for what it is really worth and what I have faithfully invested in it BUT NOW what worth pittance due to 'shambles' around me, I would move in a heartbeat or the blink of an eye. To this day, I have received 'no offers' from the Powers That Be to purchase my home if for no other reason to 'silence' me for realities I continue, much to their dismay, to voice. But I have indeed received citations of violations (one was for gate installed in 1983 but not cited till 2007...LOL!) which they had to 'take a big stretch', beyond suspicious agenda to 'make this vocal homeowner bite her tongue or disappear'. By the way, this article in Speak Out was not created just for South Village residents. If there are other Village residents in other communities who have or are experiencing the same frustrations, etc, please feel free to comment. I, the write, will not expel you from the 'family' simply because you have spoken out and spoken truths and opinions! That's not how real families operate! Hummm!

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