Renovation Discussion

6/29/2006  From a director . . .

Since you have claimed that the aquatics center being at the new facility is my bone, I feel it necessary to offer my thoughts. To place a pool facility at the country club is something that I would like to see.  However, the program will have to be more detailed than it is today.  Do we actually need to maintain 20+ thousand square feet of space for the few meetings or events held there?  I notice you failed to show the pictures that offer the view of the employees there each day.  I did not see the stained ceiling tiles, holes in the floor, or vacant space that is being heated and cooled each day.  Digging further you might want to show the termite damage or accessibility limitations. Changes absolutely need to be made. Whether the abandonment philosophy is right or not is up to discussion. My thoughts are to consider consolidating operations into the area from the glass hallway toward the 19th hole.  Building needed offices where the pro shop is and reducing the area of the pro shop.  The cart area is beneath this and would not be affected. As for events, they could be held at the Yacht Club until meeting rooms and offices are reconstructed. The 19th hole becomes the bar/grill service area. Doing something along those lines would be a consideration as well.  Let's all begin to consider many options available.

Thank you for your contribution.   The comment that this writer finds particularly disturbing is the line “Whether the abandonment philosophy is right or not is up to discussion.”  Let the other readers develop their own opinion about that.  This one thinks the idea is ridiculous.  At least this director's version of abandonment just has part of the building closed off.  Future leaders would not find themselves looking at a large lot with trailers on it and no authority to borrow enough money to replace them.  When considering the financing of a new facility, the directors need to remember that the limit of their authority to borrow is $100,000 per year according to the by-laws.

The issues here really seem to be ones of “want” versus “need”.  The director is well known as a swim team parent and has made it clear that he wants a new pool.  We have three.  It does not appear that we need four.  Henry obviously wants to build a new Country Club.  He has been setting it up all year with his sad reports on the existing facility; reports that should be viewed with a suspicious eye.  We have a handful of members who would like to have a new club.  Let us be clear.  It is a handful of members.  There is no groundswell of enthusiasm from the Lake Forest membership.  In fact, over the years, this writer has often heard remarks from members and visitors alike about how beautiful the existing club is.  And, if truth be known, he also thinks it is a very architecturally pleasing building.  Check the Country Club Photo Album yourself.

The problems mentioned in the above contribution are trivial.  Termites attack buildings.  This one has been attacked over the years.  The association has had the facilities inspected frequently and the damage has been repaired.  There is nothing particularly special about that. The handicap access issue can be resolved with one of those new fangled devices called an elevator.  And, it can be done much cheaper than building a new Country Club.  As to the “few meetings or events held there”, it might be interesting to see the calendar of the Country Club for 2005.  Readers might be surprised at just how many meetings, parties, rehearsals, wedding receptions and so on take place there during the course of a year.  Our members enjoy the Country Club.

This building is not some cheap stick-built thing.  Its underlying structure is substantial steel.  In fact, it would cost a fortune just to tear it down.  If it really needs anything, it would be some remodeling; something that can also be done much cheaper that replacing the building.  Just yesterday a member remarked that “all they need to do is update the fixtures and furnishings.  It is still a pretty building.”  Don’t take our word for it.  Go by the club and see what you think it would take to spruce the place up.  You will probably say “peanuts”, especially if you consider what the cost of replacement would be.

Lake Forest administration and boards over the last several years have been working to control the debt of the association.  We have a balloon in 2007 of around $250,000, which is the last of our long term debt.  That can easily be paid off out of cash flow in just a couple of years.  In other words, your association is in a wonderful financial position in terms of the debt/asset ratio.  Our income/expense ratio could be improved although, if we do not make necessary repairs to the facility, even that will look better in 2006.  The Country Club is not going to fall down today.  It will still be going strong five, ten or twenty years from now and longer if it is cared for.  Why rush?  Why not pay off that debt and then start accumulating a fund for future grand plans?  How about actually doing some real planning?  Why not create services that excite our members and make them want to patronize the place.  We have time.

This board successfully orchestrated a coup last year and took over.  Do they really want to now be known as the bunch that sent Lake Forest down the tubes?  Maybe they should talk to some of those involved in the infamous dredging operation at the Yacht Club years ago.  How tired do you think they get of hearing how they totally screwed that up and added a million dollars worth of debt to the association?  What does it appear that the current Board of Directors is doing? We have heard repeated complaints here on the Grapevine of cedar shingles and ceiling tiles not being replaced.  We have heard the president and the above director suggest in so many words that facilities have not been repaired because they may be replaced.  It looks like they are programming the facilities for failure.  It would seem that the board is failing in its responsibility to maintain our facilities.  If your Country Club and Yacht Club are not properly maintained, they will fail.  But, don’t let anyone tell you that it has to happen.  It does not.


Henry Lawson, self proclaimed visionary, has finally lost it. Tear down the country club and replace it with trailers??  Without membership approval. Without approved funding. Without a plan of the replacement facility?  What's the vision then?  There is no vision, there's just destruction.  How irresponsible!  The idea of renovating the country club is not necessarily a bad one.  People have talked about it for years. Although it has been regularly maintained over the past 3 decades, it could use some updating.  How about hardwood floors throughout, new design and furnishings in the Bay View Lounge, replace the drop tile ceiling in the 19th get the picture.  But tear down the whole building?  Would you tear down your house because it needs new wallpaper?  It's crazy.  Not visionary.  CRAZY.  Isn't this enough Lake Forest?  It's time to put Henry out of our misery. Get rid of him at the next Annual Meeting.  Let's elect some directors with education and experience befitting the position.

Regarding "get rid of him at the next annual meeting", we don't want to go there.  Please don't.  As for remodeling, perhaps bringing in an interior designer for a major renovation might not be a bad idea.

6/28/2006  Reality is setting in

We have just heard that a copy of From My Corner by our president was put into all the other directors’ boxes.  He starts by saying that some will consider his ideas visionary, but other less polite people might call them something else.  Read his ideas here and tell us what word you would use to describe them.  In a nutshell, his suggestion is that we ABANDON THE COUNTRY CLUB!  He suggests that the only value the existing structure has is in the wood shingles that cover the outside! (See new photo album below)  What nonsense!  He cites the usual perceived deficiencies, some of which existed the day the building was constructed.  He suggests that they tear down the facility and put some trailers at the location to support golf operations.  He thinks this will save money on insurance while they are deciding how to replace the facility.  What does he suggest we do with about a hundred golf carts that the building currently houses?  Put them in little pup tents on the driving range?  What about all the administrative offices?  Where will they go?  He says that with the building gone, they can plan the new facility and its eventual placement.   Apparently, under our current administration, this cannot be done if the old building is still in place. This man has no idea what kind of facility he wants.  He probably doesn’t even know what is at the current site, such as inventory storage in the basement, square footage of administrative offices, etc. Yet, this guy is suggesting that they barrel ahead and tear down the facility without a plan in place for its replacement!  BE BOLD he says, even if we don't know what it is going to cost to build something else!  TAKE ACTION he says, even if we don't know how we are going to finance it!  And, he says that such a strategy is “prudent business reasoning!”  A real business person would have offer a completely different opinion of that strategy.  Never mind asking the membership if they are interested.  Apparently, his friends are and that is enough. He is taking the Field of Dreams approach to the problem, "you build it and they will come".   Of course, he throws John Peterson and Joe Moseley a bone by including a new aquatics center.  In fact, that is the only specific feature of the new facility that is mentioned.  At the risk of being accused of sour grapes, this is absolutely the dumbest idea to have ever come from Henry and his group!  And, to make matters worse, now he has his good buddy in the general manager's seat!  Your webmaster couldn't make something like this up!  It came straight out of the president's head.  If ideas like this one coming from the leadership of our community don't completely stun everyone who cares for Lake Forest. nothing will.


The Lake Forest membership had better watch out.  I get a strong impression from the slate of five that our amenities are going to disappear.  The last meeting they agreed to look into building a new country club for the golfers with a big new pool and a tennis court.  Their reasoning is because ours is old and could use some repairs.  Personally, I think it is a beautiful building and setting.  If the roof leaks, why not fix it?  If you find a rotten board, why not replace it.  It's called up keep.  Good grief, are we supposed to tear down all of our homes because they are getting older?  I guess so, because Jim Moss keeps referring to our homes as decrepit.  I have heard him do this twice and one of those times was when we had realtors as guest speakers for a meeting.  Shame on you Jim.  I was at those loud meetings put on by Mr. Underwood and Mr. Deloney, when they wanted to get rid of everything and, yes, Mr. Eslava wanted rid of them also.  Choosing him as the new general manager would be a grave mistake.  Some people bought their homes because of its location and convenience to an amenity that they and their family could use, such a swimming pool.  The slate of five wants to build one large pool at the country club.  They would then close three pools down.  The slate of five wants to build a new tennis court at the country club.  They would then close six courts down and park boats and Rv's at the current swim and racket club.  This would also eliminate all tennis league play because you need a minimum of four to six courts for a league.  The reason for parking boats and Rv's at the swim and racket club would be because we would no longer have a yacht club.  It would have to be sold to cover the expense of building a new country club.  They expressed a belief that a new club house with a new pool and a tennis court would get more use than three pools and six tennis courts and increase the food and beverage sales.  Give me a break!! What kind of idiotic reasoning is this? I do not want to lose any of our amenities, especially our yacht club. It is our biggest jewel and totally irreplaceable!!  Please DO NOT hire a general manager who wants to get rid of our current amenities.

I haven't heard the "boat storage at the tennis courts" idea from a current board member.  That one came from another member who wants to sell the Yacht Club. 

We should always be willing to listen to new ideas, but never lose our heads over them.  I remember last year, when the rumor started floating about someone offering to pay an exorbitant amount for the Yacht Club.  The former general manager and I were talking about it when he said "If they did sell it, they would just fritter the money away in a few years and then Lake Forest would not have the cash or the yacht club."  (Actually Jake didn't use the word "fritter" but the meaning was the same.)  The idea of bulldozing those tennis courts for a boat storage facility is a great example of that.  We have six very good lighted tennis courts that, in spite of what Henry may say, are in fine condition.  A lighted tennis court costs about $30,000.  So, what we are looking at here, when you consider preparation costs, proshop and so on is a Racquet Club worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000 - $300,000.  The very thought of just blowing them away is so irresponsible that it would almost be criminal. 

We have three swimming pools located conveniently throughout the community for our members.  At this point a child can walk a short distance to a pool without crossing a bridge.  You do know that there is not a bridge in the subdivision that has a pedestrian walkway.  So, for a child to get to a single clubhouse pool would be a series of foot races against traffic.  If we were to close those pools in favor of a single one at a new clubhouse, we would be effectively disenfranchising most of our members.  Many families in Lake Forest have both parents working in order to provide a good lifestyle for their children.  A twelve year old is allowed to swim at the pool without a parent or guardian.  Ask yourself if you would want your twelve year old walking from Montclair Loop to the country club along Ridgewood Drive.  The answer would probably be no.  I have spent the last decade trying to make the amenities in Lake Forest more accessible to all of our members.  Closing all the community pools would be a move in the other direction.  Even closing the main Swim & Racquet Club pool to replace it with a new one at the clubhouse would cut off access for many kids.  As the crow flies, the Swim & Racquet Club pool is only a short distance from the club.  But, in order to get to the new pool from the old pool a child would have to walk the cart trail on the first hole of the Lake Nine.  That in itself is dangerous and unacceptable.  So, for a child on Michael Loop to get to the new pool would require a walk around Ridgewood to Bayview, across the scariest bridge of all and then a long way further. 

There may very well be merit to building a new pool at the Country Club.  A new pool would allow the association to build one that would better meet the requirements of the swim team.  However, that does not mean that we should close the others.  You see?  There is more to all of this than just the economies.  Our association is in the business of service.  Let's hope our board does not forget it.


  Last week I sent the following message to one of the contributors on this page. 

You say today that dry storage would be moved to the current racquet club.  Where at the current racquet club?  We have six tennis courts and enough parking space to accommodate tennis events.  I'm not sure I understand your proposal.  Are you talking about moving all six tennis courts?

Below was his reply..........

Mitch, I guess I'm a little surprised at the question as you seem to be very opposed to the ideas.  Before I answer I want to be clear as to why I have even come up with this idea.  Most importantly is that this idea is the total opposite of the "restructuring" proposal from BU & JD.  Theirs was a thinly guised plan to eliminate all amenities and if not dissolve the Association, then at least make it a minimal fee covenants enforcement Association.  The scary part is that if they hadn't been so greedy and included giving away the 9 hole course, the club house, and the pools, the consensus from people I talk to including Maxie Cooper from the Save Lake Forest Committee, is that if only the sale of the Yacht Club had been proposed most likely they would have gotten away with it.    When I talk about a "Community Center" I mean a central location where all Lake Forest activities take place.  Golf, Tennis, restaurant, Pools.  I'm only guessing, but I think the majority of the members never go to the country club, or if they do they drive up to the front and walk up, drop their payment in the box, and drive off.  Probably wondering what their $37.50 gets them other than a more affordable house.  I think we can do more for them.

    1.  The $9M would not include all of the property on the bay.  We would retain enough to build a new building and have wet slips for the members.  It would be owned and operated by LFPOA.  A bonus would be that the buyer would have a vested interest in opening and maintaining the channel to the bay.

    2.  Yes the tennis courts would move to the current Country Club location.  Visualize the site without anything on it and there is plenty of room for them.

    3.  A single pool large enough to accommodate everyone that uses the 3 pools now.  Something on the nature of the website I sent you from Houston.

    4.  A new user friendly "Lake Forest Community Center"  that would house the golf shop, tennis shop, restaurant(19th hole), admin offices, meeting room(s), etc.

    5.  Make the current racquet club location a fenced, controlled entrance location for boats and RVs.  ( This would be an additional amenity not currently available even though we do no allow RVs in the neighborhoods.)

    This consolidation would reduce the operational cost and inefficiencies we currently suffer from having them in several different locations.  We might even get to make some new friends and get to know the other members in this great community. 

    I originally thought all of this should be done relatively quickly by spend the money up front.  I now look at how much income the $9M would generate and would rather use that to pay as we go.  By doing so, we could make the proposed improvements and still have a sizeable income for operating expenses for years to come.  Of course the principle would have to be protected from future boards by requiring a vote of the membership to spend any of the principle.  If worst case senerio and we did "build it" but they didn't come, it would still be paid for and the money available to maintain it for many years to come.

The short answer to your questions is Yes they would move.


Renovation of Lake Forest Based on your estimate that Lake Forest could receive $9 million dollars for the Yacht Club, I assumed that this required that the Yacht Club and all of the land be sold. This was the basis for my comment that "the Yacht Club would be owned and operated by someone else". The new owners of the property would own and operate the new facilities.  If this interpretation was incorrect, I apologize.  However, if all of the property is sold, how can Lake Forest be the owner of the Yacht Club and control it?  Based on your comment that "Enough wet slips could be retained to serve the members", I am assuming that condos of some sort would be built on the property and the new residents would also want to have access to the boat slips and the ability to use the new yacht club building.  Absent the Lake Forest Yacht club having exclusive access the new Yacht Club building, the Yacht Club would not control the building.  The new owners would control the building, its hours of operation and the pricing of of any food services provided.  If a new yacht club is built, I am assuming that the Lake Forest Yacht Club would have to pay rent to use the building.  What would be the annual rental cost and how long would lease be for? This information was not included in your breakdown. The same questions exist concerning the wet slips. The slips would have to be rented either by the Lake Forest Yacht Club and then sub-let to the members or by the members directly. How long would the Lake Forest Yacht Club be guaranteed access to an "adequate number" of slips and at what cost? If the cost of the rental of the building and/or the wet slips is too high, the Lake Forest Yacht Club will become unaffordable for most Lake Forest residents and might cease to exist altogether.


To suggest that we can sell the Yacht Club and still own the Yacht Club seems a little unusual.  If something like that is possible, it would appear that the Yacht Club that the membership would own could not be of the same quality as the one we have now.  One might ask if the new club would have the same square footage or would we be talking of something more like a bait shop than a Yacht Club.  Would the association actually still own waterfront property or would it be a tenant whose position would depend on the good will and stability of the landlord?  The proposal seems to be similar to the one the membership overwhelmingly voted against less than two years ago.  The bottom line of all this discussion regarding the sale of any amenity is that the association does not need to do it.  The amenity will not decrease in value.  The amenity will be enjoyed by the membership.  And, if the audit reports we have been receiving for the last few years are accurate, the association is in a strong financial position.


A new Yacht Club would be OWNED and CONTROLLED by the LFPOA, on the current property. Enough wet slips could also be retained to serve the members. Dry storage would move to the current Raquet Club location, with that location also being used as a secure fenced location for other storage such as RVs etc, OWNED and controlled by LFPOA. The $9M is more than an arbitrary number. I like discussion but please don't interpret things to change them. As an example "the Yacht Club would be owned and operated by someone else". Where did that come from? The other "interpretation" was that the project would be for outside interests. The only mention of outside interest was the possibility of renting to outside groups for the sole purpose of income to LFPOA.


This is in response to the discussions that have been ongoing concerning the facilities at Lake Forest and upgrading or selling some of them. I agree fully with the discussions below on the need to upgrade the facilities at Lake Forest. The questions are how should this be done and how will it be paid for? One suggestion has been made that the Yacht Club be sold. It has been asserted that $9 million dollars can be obtained by selling it. The validity of this figure is open to debate. Until a willing buyer comes along and agrees to buy the property for this figure, it is totally speculative. Also, there would be costs associated with any sale (commissions, potential taxes, etc.) that would reduce the amount received. A range of figures can be posited as to what the Yacht Club is worth but it's exact value is unknown until it is sold. Secondly, as Mitch Davis mentions below, the Yacht Club is a unique and irreplaceable amenity. If it was sold, the benefits it provides could not be replaced, even by a new Yacht Club run by the buyer of the property. Currently, the members can use the Yacht Club at no additional cost, the price of meals are very reasonable and the cost to use a boat slip or dry storage is very low compared to rates charged at other marinas. If another entity buys the property, they would need to recoup their costs by charging higher fees (This assumes that Lake Forest members would be able to use the new yacht club- a debatable assumption). It is likely that there would be a yearly fee charged to allow Lake Forest residents the right to use the new Yacht club. Assuming that the rates charged for boat storage and boat slips are the going commercial rates, these rates would be several times the current rates charged by the Yacht Club. Meals would also be more expensive. In short, the Yacht Club would be unaffordable to most residents of Lake Forest. Concerning the assertion that only 100 people are getting the benefit of the Yacht Club, looking at how many people are there on any one night or week is a specious argument. You need to look at how many different people use the Yacht Club over the course of a year or more. Further, even for those residents that don't use the Yacht Club, just having it available is a benefit. This is just like the benefit received by non-golfing members in having the golf course available. Likewise the pools, tennis courts and stables. The clubhouse does need to be upgraded. The extent of the upgrade or the decision to build a new clubhouse are items that need to be investigated further to determine what the best course of action would be. There are probably numerous "must have" upgrades and just as many or more "like to have" upgrades that could be done. The types of upgrades needed/proposed and their cost is currently unknown. Until this information is known, the desires of the membership as to whether they would want to undertake all of the proposed costs in unknown. Likewise, the feasibility of building a new clubhouse is unknown. A new clubhouse would likely cost $1.5-2 million dollars or more if something close in size to the present clubhouse is built. The advantages of building a new clubhouse versus upgrading the present clubhouse need to investigated so the members can determine what they want to do. If the determination is made to build a new clubhouse, my opinion is that the clubhouse be built for the residents of Lake Forest. It has been suggested that a new clubhouse be built to be a community center that would benefit both Lake Forest and outside groups that might desire to rent the clubhouse for meetings. I am not interested in funding the cost of amenities to be used by non-residents. The clubhouse should be designed to meet the needs of Lake Forest, not the needs of the community at large. As mentioned in the previous discussions, there is virtually no doubt that the clubhouse, pools, tennis courts, Yacht Club and other facilities are going to require extra money for repairs, upgrades and/or replacement. However, before any large sums of money are budgeted, the alternative need to investigated and the results communicated to the membership. I have no objection to paying a reasonable assessment(s) (and we can all argue about what is reasonable) and/or increased dues to provide the money necessary to protect and improve the amenities at Lake Forest. But I do believe that the alternatives need to be investigated AND COMMUNICATED to the membership before any course of action is decided on by the board. I also feel that selling any of the amenities should only be done as a last resort.


One of the mottos I’ve always thought was useful is “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”  You’ve thrown out a lot of can'ts with a lot of unsubstantiated statements why we can’t update the amenities.  The fact is no one knows what the membership wants because no one has ever put in the time and effort to ask them.  This site doesn’t represent any where near the general membership of Lake Forest.  As evidenced by the 19 respondents to your survey about smoking etc. 

The other item that always amazes me is the Yacht Club.  I’m not sure how to be more clear The Yacht Club would NOT go away.  Change, yes, but not go away.  Now here’s a number for you, there are between 50 and 100 people who use the Yacht Club on a regular basis (Friday night karaoke).  Taking the higher number, that’s $90,000 benefit per person at current value.  I’m glad they use and enjoy it, but I don’t think it is wise or justified to provide them with a $9,000,000 karaoke bar when so much more is needed at other amenities.  That doesn’t even take into consideration the $100,000+ in losses generated there annually.  And by the way, the channel to the Yacht Club is silting in just like the Lake, and someday the marina will be inaccessible. 

The purpose for bringing all the amenities to the current clubhouse site is to make it a Community Center not a Country Club dominated by the golfers.  And, to make the operations the most efficient they can be.  Observing all the cars I see at the free pools, I don’t think getting to a big new pool at the current Country Club site would be a big problem.  Heaven forbid, they might even walk or ride a bike and get some exercise.

With $9,000,000 and a 5 year plan, we could have facilities that would rival anything on the Eastern Shore, (including a new functional Yacht Club), and be very affordable and beneficial for ALL of the membership, as directed by the bylaws. That 5 year plan would entail using mostly the earnings from the $9M to do the upgrades to ALL of the amenities, and then have the earnings available to go towards operations.  By the way, earnings on $9M yearly should be about $900K, which would cover about half of the current budget.  I think 20 or 30 years down the road the members would look back then and appreciate the forward thinking done now to insure the continued success of Lake Forest without the loss of one single amenity.  This is all outlined in a previous submission that you choose to “bury” in your food and beverage discussion.  I think the picture with that submission is a good representation of the “vision” Lake Forest needs.

A very smart man told me a long time ago, “In all businesses, if you’re not going forward, then you’re backing up”   I see Lake Forest “backing up” trying to maintain the status quo of 30 years ago. 

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By all means, let's dig it up!  Actually, we've had a few more submissions to that survey.  Once, we put a survey in the Spectrum and only received seven responses.  I don't think that means we have three times as many readers as the Spectrum, though, just the smartest ones.  ;)


  An organization never stands still.  It is changing, updating and improving or it is dying.  Ideas like those presented on this discussion page should be considered so that Lake Forest will always be updating and improving.  The director, who initiated this, is to be commended for presenting this topic to our readers for discussion.  It is appropriate to have it out in the open, where everyone with a stake in the future of Lake Forest can read, learn and contribute.  Here are some of the opinions of this writer. 

The idea of replacing the Country Club has been around for awhile.  A couple of years ago I cornered an accounting professor and asked her opinion on the idea, stating that energy efficiency was one of the reasons for the project.  We eventually agreed after some discussion that the payback based on that reason alone would probably not justify tearing down the old one and building a new one.  However, according to the experts, determining the return on that investment is not too difficult.  There are some simple formulas for handling the task.

Whether or not to demolish the old club and build a new club should be based on a couple of factors.  First, is that the cost of the new building will be recovered in a reasonable time by improvements in efficiency or, second, there is a great demand by the membership.  The first one regarding efficiency seems to not be sufficient.  As for the second one, demand, over the years I have only heard the idea from a handful of golfers.  I have never heard any other member make mention of it.  So, it would seem that there is little demand from the membership as a whole.  And, as much as I enjoyed the movie, Field of Dreams, I do not subscribe to the idea that “If you build it, they will come.”  So, if the Board of Directors would like to move in this direction, it would seem that they would first need to create a demand from the membership.  That may be possible by showing how a better designed facility would benefit everyone.

I believe that for those of us who have been around Lake Forest for years, the Country Club is old hat.  We’ve seen it.  We’ve used and enjoyed it, but now we may think that it is old, out of style and obsolete.  You’ve heard the expression that “Familiarity breeds contempt.”  However, it seems that every visitor I talk to raves about the beauty of the building.  It’s not old hat to them.  When I rented the Forest Room for my daughter’s wedding reception, several of my friends from the University of Mobile and others from Mobile commented on how nice our Country Club was.   Furthermore, “new” is not necessarily better.  There are many old, classic buildings everywhere that are teeming with life and being enjoyed by people for their architectural beauty.  Perhaps our building doesn’t qualify as classic, but it is an attractive building.  If what we see going up today is any indication, what we have is much more attractive than anything that will go up in its place.  As a friend of mine once told me, “If someone visited your house, they might comment on how lovely it is.  You, on the other hand, might be thinking that this guy just doesn’t know about the leaking toilet or the rotten shutters.”   Because we know all of the blemishes does not mean that the building is still not attractive.  The energy efficiency justification just does not measure up.

If we were to build a Country Club today, there are a lot of ways that we would design it better.  All of the steps do pose a problem for some.  The two separate dining rooms, Forest and Lake, do limit the size of functions because neither of them is huge.  On the other hand, by having the two rooms it is possible to have two separate events at one time.  There are events going on in our Country Club every week and usually several times a week.  Don’t let anyone try to give you the idea that it is not being used.  For a wedding reception or party, we need a decent size room.  Our Forest room barely suffices.  Some years ago, the board considered an idea to expand out the rear of the club to connect the two dining rooms in a U shaped arrangement.  That would allow for very large functions, but also offer the flexibility of closing down parts of it for up to three smaller functions.  Such an idea might provide an alternative to knocking the whole building down. 

What about the Yacht Club?  The director specifically mentioned it as being less than efficient.  The Yacht Club is nothing but a rectangular box sitting on piers.  There is not a whole lot that can be done to make it significantly more energy efficient and still deliver the aesthetic quality that it now delivers.  It has wood siding and that in itself is more efficient that other types of siding.  One reason that it is not efficient is that one whole side is glass.  The reason the building is surrounded by glass is so that our patrons may enjoy the beautiful view.  Yes, we could make it more energy efficient by getting rid of that glass.  But, what would we be doing to that beautiful view?  There are always trade-offs.

Regarding pools, there could be some merit to building another pool at the Country Club.  Our current pools are old and in some ways do not meet the needs of a modern swim program.  By building a new pool at the club, we could build one of modern design that might really be a benefit to our swim team, for example.  However, most of our swim team are non-members and swim meets will completely fill the parking lot, which our golfers might not appreciate.  To suggest that members will come down to the Country Club as a family unit so that the kiddies can swim while Mom or Dad plays golf seems a stretch to me.  The swimmers, though, might patronize the 19th Hole, which would be nice. 

  There is a really big plus to having the three pools distributed around the community.  Ridgewood Drive is about a five mile loop of Lake Forest.  Having those three pools in separate areas of the community allows our kids convenient access to a swimming pool within walking distance of home.  Many families in Lake Forest have two working parents or are one-car families.  Convenient access to pools is a terrific service to our members.  We should NOT close those other pools!  We should continue to maintain them to the highest level possible. 

As far as a tennis court at the Country Club, any benefit that would offer is limited.  Lake Forest has a very nice Racquet Club.  Tennis players will always prefer to go there as long as we maintain them properly.  We would also have a space problem at the Country Club, not only for the court but for the additional parking as well, especially if we are having a swim meet at the same time.  There is also a cost issue.  A lighted tennis court costs in the neighborhood of $30,000.  We have six of them at the Racquet Club.  Our money would be better spent in my opinion by continuing to support the current facility. 

Allow me to introduce one more issue in this submission.  The construction of a new facility probably cannot be done without membership approval.  The reason is that our by-laws limit the borrowing power of the Board of Directors to $100,000.  With some creative scheduling and use of credit, membership assessments, and cash flow, I would estimate that the Board of Directors could only come up with something in the neighborhood of $600,000 for the project.  From the descriptions I have heard, that would not be enough to complete the task.  If the developer, Friday Construction, were to get on board with the idea, then a vote to build a new facility would probably pass.  However, that would be a public relations nightmare for Friday because the developer is exempt from paying assessments.  When they sell their lots and leave, the members would be left paying the debt.  If the majority of the membership did not agree with the project, there would be some serious resentment toward the developer and their projects in Lake Forest.  On the other hand, if the developer were to agree to participate financially in the project, it might soften the blow.

That is why some have advocated selling the Yacht Club.  Doing so would provide the capital necessary to build the new facility without assessments and loans.  Let this writer, Mitch Davis, go on record today.  I hope that we never sell that Yacht Club.  It is the one thing that makes Lake Forest special.  It is absolutely the jewel of this subdivision.  There are golf courses all over the place and people are building more all the time.  At the same time, waterfront property is disappearing everyday.  If the efforts of the group working on the watershed are successful and erosion is controlled, we will have a very nice and functional Yacht Club for years to come.  Then, twenty or thirty years from now,  when Lake Forest members are among the lucky few who have bayfront access, they will be praising the leaders of Lake Forest today for having had the exceptional vision to hold on to that gem for future generations of Lake Forest residents.   Remember that twenty years from now, any new clubhouse will be old.  More to come…….


Mitch, I really typed this and thought better of having it posted. We might want to slowly begin this discussion. or maybe even place it in a new discussion page. Here ya go, though. I just ask that it not be used as anything other than serious consideration.  I do want your group's thoughts on its content. 

Let's all be clear as to the intentions of some on the board when it comes to amenities.  I, for one, am interested in a long-term capital plan to maintain, upgrade, and, yes, even replace an amenity when the time comes that the facility costs more to maintain than we can afford, or the amenity is underutilized.  That can be a real issue for the LFPOA. You have previously quoted the cost of utilities for operating the current facilities. Does it make sense as utility prices continue to increase to keep inefficient buildings as they are? The previous board did replace the air conditioning at the Yacht Club after Hurricane Katrina. The building is still an inefficient one. The building itself, not necessarily the air conditioning system. These types of improvements help prolong the life of buildings. There is a need to look hard at the current country club facility and its functionality, efficiency, and usability. The rooms have to be entered by stairs from the inside. The Forest Room and the Lake Room lack real accessibility by today's standards. This issue limits the use of the building and certainly would impact the ability for rentals to particular groups.  Secondly, the building was built years ago when energy efficient equipment and energy conserving building designs were not high priorities. That is why the operation of that building is so costly.  Is it fair to our membership to spend over ten percent of the monthly dues on energy?  As energy prices climb, do we raise our dues to cover this? And lastly, usability.  Utilization of our facilities is not what it could be. The Country Club building is not used by Civic Groups often for meetings.  Why is that?  There are those who believe that they don't simply because the main rooms are pretty small and not as accessible as other facilities in the area.  Can we expect groups to lease the space more in the future?  Will accessibility hamper our own members from using the rooms?  The other point to consider is membership use. The Country Club, by and large, is a golf-centered facility with club meetings held there. Think about that a minute. The food and beverage operation there, besides a few room rental caters, serves our golfers. Obviously, the golfers are not high enough in numbers or purchases to break even.  What would be wrong with bringing other amenity users to this building?  Say place tennis courts and a swimming pool near and adjacent to the Country Club. This would draw more users, and ultimately, more food and beverage sales to the Country Club operation. This would also provide a sense of family and community to the entire neighborhood. I could see myself getting finished with golf and meeting my family by the pool for swimming or even eating lunch together. Swim meets, tennis tournament ts, parties, and other gatherings could have more parking and bring more opportunity for the Food and Beverage sales that we need in order to better maintain the LFPOA properties. With all that being said, is it time to plan for the replacement or renovation of the country club for a better future? Does it make sense to bring more members there and offer a first class, state of the art facility? What effect would such a facility have on our property values? Why can't Lake Forest have the best facility on the Eastern Shore? A discussion about this direction and its drawbacks needs to begin. The LFPOA is limited in what it can do financially and in what land availability there is.  Also there are other aspects of this to consider. Do we keep the outlying pools operational? All of them or some of them? Why build new tennis courts when the ones we have are in good the great shape? Would someone at the pool actually buy a drink or food? Can we afford it?  You will notice in this discussion there was no mention of selling anything.  This director has no desire to sell anything.  This director wants our community to be on a par with others on the Eastern Shore in value. That is why these ideas are discussed.  My intention is to spark debate on this issue and that will lead to careful consideration of the direction and vision for Lake Forest and the future of the community. Everyone's input is needed.  Let the discussion begin.