Group Considers Restarting Community Association

Woodbrook resident Audrey Kocher called the meeting.

A dozen Woodbrook residents gathered at Woodbrook Elementary School on June 3, 2015, to discuss neighborhood issues including a plan to restart the Woodbrook Community Association (WCA).

Referring to their April 14, 2015, meeting, Audrey Kocher reported that she has not yet scheduled the ice cream social. According to Ms. Kocher, neighbors want to meet each other and to get together. Ms. Kocher reported that she and former WCA Treasurer Sharon Evans have determined that they can use funds from the WCA bank account. The WCA became inactive on October 1, 2014, when the previous officers failed to call for a neighborhood election. No mention was made of how Ms. Evans and Ms. Kocher will determine which projects qualify and which do not qualify for funding while the WCA remains inactive.

Ms. Kocher also reported that additional neighborhood funds will be required to rent the cafeteria at Woodbrook Elementary as the County is no longer in a position to do so.

“The other information following [the April] meeting was [a] sincere, deep interest in reforming the Woodbrook Association,” said Kocher. Multiple requests by this blog for the minutes of the April meeting and a list of its attendees have been denied.

Some Woodbrook residents have expressed concern about the noise of VDOT contractors working on US29 in the evenings, reported Ms. Kocher. Ms. Kocher also reported that she contacted VDOT on behalf of the neighborhood. According to Ms. Kocher, VDOT advised her that there are two projects ongoing at this time, the reconfiguration of the lights and the relocation of underground utilities.

Ms. Kocher reported that according to her contacts at the County, there is still a position available on the US29 comprehensive planning committee.

“Another issue that people have been bringing to me are the wild animals,” said Kocher.

Ms. Kocher then opened the floor to a discussion on the topic of re-activating the WCA. Former WCA Treasurer Sharon Evans said, “I don’t think we are inactive… so I would like to understand why we are considered inactive.” “Missing an election in the past has not rendered the association inactive,” she added. Dan Gould said, “The constitution of the WCA says that the officers are required to call an election in September of every year. If they fail to do so for any reason, the association ends.” Ms. Evans pointed out that a vote of 2/3 of the neighborhood is required to dissolve the association.[1] Mr. Gould said “while the WCA itself may not be dissolved, it has no officers and it also has no members.”

“One thing that may help you all resolve this is that the WCA [constitution] are guidelines, not legal documents”, said Kocher, “so it’s a little unclear what to do.” Joe Fyrer said, “We are fighting over minor things here of is it an association or is it not an association on some document that we have. Why don’t we look at how we want to go forward and what we really want. We need a representative of the whole… all the houses in the unit.” Beth Gould responded that you can’t represent people that don’t want to be represented. There were several comments about how the existing WCA constitution has not been strictly followed, at which time Dan Gould said, “So what strikes me is that it’s time to re-write this constitution.” He continued, “I would strongly support a new document that will take into account the way the neighborhood really operates.”

“[Last year’s blog] survey, I think was very well done [and] indicated that the majority of people who responded were in favor of an association”, said Kocher. To which Sharon Evans added, “by a two-to-one margin.” Dan Gould pointed out that the survey Ms. Kocher referred to had the “lowest participant rate of any survey we’ve ever done.” Regarding the majority of Woodbrook residents that didn’t participate in the survey, Mr. Gould said, “We don’t know anything about them.”

Marie Reed, who is new to Woodbrook, asked about the purpose of the WCA. There followed a general discussion about the association’s role in the past.

Ms. Kocher said that she was interested in continuing the speaker series, firemen, zoning, US29 development, animal control, and game and wildlife issues.

Beth Gould spoke briefly about this blog’s email list which currently reaches 80% of the neighborhood, and the neighborhood Facebook group which facilitates direct communication among neighbors. Tahira Haroon reminded the group that the Nextdoor system is also available, to which Heidie Wooten-Douglas said “I ignore a lot of the Nextdoor stuff because it doesn’t relate at all.” Beth Gould said that applicants to the Woodbrook Facebook group are very carefully screened to ensure that they live in Woodbrook.

Tahira Haroon asked, “Should we propose an election?” Dan Gould said that it’s his understanding that “strictly speaking, according to [the WCA constitution] right now no one has the authority to call an election, so you might as well start from scratch.” Heidi Wooten-Douglas said that she thought we should get more involvement of the neighborhood before embarking on a new WCA. “We could get something together to get more involvement first, and the summer should be a pretty good time for getting families involved,” she said.

Marie Reed said “It sounds kind of imperative that there is somebody involved in the [US] 29 initiative and that can’t really wait on [a new constitution].”

Audrey Kocher said that she is willing to facilitate a continued discussion and is willing to do more social things and to get more speakers. Marie Reed said that her first choice for speaker would be someone who could talk about the US 29 initiative.

Returning to the discussion regarding re-writing the constitution, Heidi Wooten-Douglas said “I’d want to do that after we try to get more people involved.” Sharon Evans said, “I think we need to reach out to more people because this is an argument between about ten people in this neighborhood and this is not going to solve anything.”

The meeting closed with a general agreement to increase the number of social activities within the neighborhood and that the County’s and VDOT’s US 29 initiatives need volunteers from Woodbrook as soon as possible. There were no volunteers among those present.

What do you think? Should the WCA be restarted? If so, what do you think its mandate should be? What should the requirements for membership be, and how should the wishes of those residents that don’t want to be members be respected? Please use the comment space below to share your thoughts.

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[1] To dissolve the organization, the constitution of the WCA requires a 2/3 majority vote of its membership, not of the neighborhood. The WCA has no members at this time or officers who could call for a vote.

[Note: It’s been our practice since starting this blog to include the recorded audio from neighborhood meetings. However, this time we made the mistake of recording the meeting from our seat in the audience causing some off-the-record comments from people sitting near us being captured on tape. We promise we won’t make that mistake again.]

5 thoughts on “Group Considers Restarting Community Association

  1. This article is factually incorrect about my dealings regarding the WCA funds. Dan, if you are interested in reporting honestly, you should have gotten my take on the funds. I have not determined that the funds can be used. Therefore it is also incorrect to imply I will be making decisions with Audrey on how the funds will be spent. Please correct your article so that my name is removed ENTIRELY from your second paragraph IMMEDIATELY.

  2. The following is a transcript of a portion of the June 3rd meeting regarding the distribution of WCA funds. Sharon Evans, the previous WCA treasurer, is currently a signing authority on the WCA bank account.

    Audrey Kocher: "Sharon [Evans] and I have investigated that and we can use the funds from the inactive Woodbrook Community Association and I did verify that with a law firm, Frank Buck, so we have those funds available."

  3. Please also comment on who should take over the WCA funds. I am anxious to turn this over to someone else as soon as possible.

    Thank you!

  4. 1. Correction of the above report on the 6/3/15 meeting: The county continues to have funds to rent Woodbrook School. The funds are not available when school is not in session (summer).
    2. Minutes from 4/15/15 meeting: Information re discussion from the 4/14 meeting have been posted through e mails of participants of the 4/14 meeting and via Nextdoor web site. The Gould blog declined to print those notes because they were not in the form of formal minutes. I would be pleased to send them to anyone interested.
    3. List of participants from 4/14 and 6/3 meeting and addresses. I am facilitating discussion at meetings I arranged with help of the County Community Engagement Office. E mails and hand delivery of over 200 hand bills invited al Woodbrook residents to come. I do not have permission of any attendees to share their names and addresses/e mail addresses with others. Residents are free to offer their information to the Gould blog as they wish.
    4. Use of Woodbrook funds: consultation suggested they can be used for Woodbrook activities. Frank and Buck Law firm recommends good accounting to document use as is normal for organizations. The WCA bylaws d not describe how the funds can be used but several signatures are required by banks to distribute funds.

    Audrey Kocher

  5. Ms. Kocher is correct, her statement regarding the availability of County funds for rental of the Woodbrook Cafeteria specified that there would be a problem only during the summer months. Our apologies for this error.

    We declined to publish the notes from the neighborhood meeting on April 14, 2015 because we were unable to verify the accuracy its content.

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