An Interview with Oak Grove Condominiums
ACTHA: Give a brief description of your subdivision, location, size, type, method of governance, self-managed or Management Company?
We are a condominium complex in Midlothian, IL. about 30 miles south of Chicago. We have 12 buildings with 144 units total. We are self-managed.
ACTHA: Give a description of your Association Board; number of directors, master, sub-association.
We have 5 Board members no master or sub-association.
ACTHA: What does your Board do that makes your Association function smoothly? Name three factors.
Our Board runs smoothly because all of the board members want to make our complex a great place to live. Even if there may be a difference of opinion everyone is respectful and hears out any ideas. We have set meetings 4 times a year already scheduled by our November voter’s meeting, so all board members are aware of the date well in advance. The board has the meeting at a local pizza place on half price day, so it is economical and provides a more relaxed environment to hold meetings over dinner.
ACTHA: What have you implemented at your Board Meetings that works well during Homeowner Sessions?
For a long time, our Board meetings had a lot of interruptions and questions while the Board was discussing business. Once we were all on board with reminding owners this is a meeting for the Board to discuss business and we are very happy to take questions after the meeting we had a much smoother meeting. Once owners knew we wanted to hear what they had to say, and we would answer questions at the end everyone was happy with that. We always have a table set up as you walk in to sign in the meeting, we have last meeting’s minutes and the nights agenda set out. We also found serving pizza during the board meeting rather then after gave the owners something to do while they listened to Board discussions. The Board not only answers any owner questions, but 2 or 3 Board members usually stay after most people have left and chat with owners still there to get a feel of how they things are going.
ACTHA: What are your most recent accomplishments? Projects for example.
Our Board has been busy! In the last few years we have put on 96 new balconies. We have 10 new roofs and gutters with the last two roofs going on this fall. We had to repair a huge sink hole between two of our buildings that cost as much as 3 or 4 roofs! We are also FHA approved and that was a lot of work.
ACTHA: What are your challenges in your community you as a Board deal with?
Our biggest challenge right now is the age of our buildings. They were built in 1974 and converted to condominiums in 1981. We have the best maintenance person and without him, it would be very difficult to keep up with repairs. We worked very hard the last few years to get the bones of the buildings sound, now we are taking the piping repairs and age-related problems as they come up. The challenges in the community mostly stem from trying to get people that do not live in the complex to stay off the property. While we want to be good neighbors, we have a lot of people in the community walking through our property to get to businesses on the other side of us. They cut through our property and throw trash and break our fence regularly. Dog owners on and off the property are a big issue also. We have many dog owners that do not clean up after their dogs and cause a mess.
ACTHA: What do you do for community “buy in”?
We do have a “buy in”. We call it a Capital Contribution and it has been in effect since 1993. We explain to the buys that they have a new balcony and new roof that all owners have paid for and they will have the benefit of all the improvements made.
ACTHA: Tell us about the most rewarding part of your volunteer run.
I think in talking to Board members the most rewarding part of the job is keeping our complex a wonderful place to live and being involved in how that gets done.
ACTHA: What advice would you give new Board members?
To a new Board member, I would be honest and tell them it’s a lot of work for which many homeowners are not very grateful. The upside is they are helping maintain the place they live and have a vested interest in seeing do well. Their opinion matters! Read the By-Laws and Rules & Regulations and be familiar with them. If you listen to an owner and they feel heard that is a great start on resolving an issue.
ACTHA: Who are your most valuable resources? Attorney, Manager, Accountant, Management Company, Community officials, Police, Fire Depts.
Our most valuable resources are many. Our maintenance person can do just about anything. Our attorneys Kovitz, Shifrin & Nesbit always keep us on the right path, we are in contact with them a lot. We have a great accountant that we depend on for Quarterly statements and tax work.
ACTHA: How do you foster harmonious Board relations?
I really believe when someone serves on the Board it is to keep our community a great place to live and protect their investment along with all the other owners’ investments. When everyone has the same goal in mind it makes it easier to work as a team. We all have different opinions and ways to do things, but with the same goal.