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A Year in the Life of a Co-op Board: A President's Diary, Part 3

Mary Fran in Board Operations on March 14, 2013

Park Terrace Gardens, Inwood, Manhattan

March 14, 2013

September — Doing Laundry

See also... 

● Part 1

 Part 2

Because it is so expensive, so intrusive and so important, the exterior work has dominated the board's interest and efforts throughout the year. The kind of waterproofing to be applied before the rebricking of the façade has required much research, discussion and consideration. One of the unpleasant, but not wholly surprising, discoveries of the exterior work was that the parapets above these façades need to be replaced. This will involve additional time and cost, but we hope that it will minimize future water intrusion as well as keep the building façade safe. In addition, we have the mandatory fuel-conversion proceeding with filing for permits, and the beginning of budget planning for further exterior work that we will have to do over the next few years.

Concerns by shareholders over the assessments and increases are expressed and the board waives late fees for those who cannot comply in time. The board plans to make these financial changes with more lead time in the coming year. The laundry contract was approved after much back and forth with the vendors bidding on it. With five laundry rooms, we are a valuable client.

October — Goodbye, Board

Exterior work proceeds. We have been lucky with the weather; and even with some delays because of unexpected parapet work, we appear able to finish before it becomes too cold. The board approves an extension of the engineer's weekly construction inspections.

Planning for the 2013 budget begins and we will have to consider routine cost increases, further façade and parapet work, energy upgrades and other major costs.

This is the last meeting of this board. Our annual meeting takes place in November and the new board will meet the following week. Three current members are taking a break or retiring.

I take a seminar designed

for board presidents.

It clarifies my thinking

on board management.

Between the October and November meetings I take a seminar designed for board presidents only. It clarifies my thinking on board management and I hope will help me to do better with the new board. My first priority will be to work toward shorter, more efficient meetings. I have the support of the board for this, but it's not so easy to implement. I also have plans to bring any new members up to date by meeting with them separately to answer questions and thereby minimize that awful period when you have no idea what anyone is talking about. I have also prepared a one-page statement of function for new and returning board members for their information and reference.

November — The New Board

The amount of maintenance increases and assessments is still undecided, but the board will spread these out over the year hoping to minimize the impact on the cash flow of shareholders. The exterior work is complete, and the scaffolds and sidewalk bridging are being dismantled.

Planning for energy upgrades begins, with more questions about percentage savings, NYSERDA incentives, timing, project management and legal review of contracts being major decision points. Other items are committees, tree removal (post-superstorm Sandy), plans for forum software, updates on legal cases, sublets and renewals, apartment sales, noise complaints, staff bonuses, proposed house rule changes and specific work going on in the complex.

December — Turning a Page

Our last meeting of the year is rewarded by the consensus that our exterior work, long and difficult and expensive as it was, has produced a very good outcome. The co-op board and residents have seen the finished walls and are really pleased. We think we have gone a long way toward solving water intrusion in these two areas. A request for a proposal for 2013 work is approved and will be sent to our engineer. The board approves the removal of five trees that have been damaged, have diseases or have grown in a way that compromises safety and infrastructure.

It has been a long year of very long board meetings, with lots of disagreement, discussions and challenging projects, as well as the daily grind of what's involved in overseeing and managing a co-op in New York City. Another year faces us with many of the same challenges, with a dedicated, intelligent board, some good luck and hard work. I hope for another productive year as we try to make life better for our shareholders. 


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