Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Most of the time the information I get here at Farmington Woods Insider is accurate and reliable. In five months of writing this blog I've been misinformed once and it came back to bite me. But it happened again in the last week and I'm afraid others may have taken a bite for reading and following up on my last post called "Golf Pow Wow".

I had it from two sources that this meeting was open to all residents for the purpose of at least beginning to look at a resolution to our golf problem: seven years of deficits now growing exponentially. But I was misinformed and for any of you who attended the meeting I can only say I'm sorry; I make mistakes too.

If you did attend and your experience reflected what my anonymous contributor experienced, it wasn't all for naught. You got an inside look at the golf faction, for lack of a better term, that runs Farmington Woods and controls all politics here. 

And from what I can gather after reading the following report, speaking with attendees and from emails I have received, the only community that this faction is concerned with is their own. Their number one mission is to save the golf operation regardless of the long term cost to the majority of residents and the resulting deterioration of at least some sections of the condominium community.

At last week's Executive Board meeting the interim president of Women's Golf casually stated that residents were being "charged back" somewhere in the neighborhood of $350 per year to keep the course open. If you add the $450. minimum we pay as non-members of the golf club to the clubhouse operation, that's $800. per year! 

That's serious spending money even for residents of our upscale community. It equates to one week's take-home pay for a professional making $60K per year! And are they satisfied with the level of sustenance being provided by non-golfing residents? Hell, no. The newest idea is to make Farmington Woods more "country club-like" by allowing non-resident golfers and their families use of our pools and tennis courts, amenities that we all pay condo fees and taxes to maintain and insure.

It was revealed at this meeting that the estimate of $43K to begin the course irrigation project, you know, the one that residents turned down in May by a 2 to 1 margin, has now ballooned to $100K. And if you read the budget report, the golf department began the year with a $125K loss with the district kicking in $25K for golf cart paths. That's a cool Quarter of a Million Dollars to begin with folks and it's only going to get worse.

How do I know this, you ask? I know this because I have heard the propagandistic mantra of leaders and golfers here for years: that this is a community and that the golf course defines and is integral to the very concept of community at Farmington Woods. I'd like to believe that but I have to believe what I see and not what I hear.

The real truth, as evidenced by the following report, is that the only community this particular special interest thinks about, cares about and has concern for, is the golf community. Not one attendee at this meeting even raised the question of why they were entitled to the support of the rest of us when driveways look like the one in the picture but "no cart path is left unpaved."

The driveway in the picture? That's the scenic view. A panoramic picture would show the cracks that frost and mammoth garbage trucks have created and the ugly patch job that was done after I complained about it three years ago. It hasn't been repaved in 20 years.

The $350 per year that the 18 residents who use that driveway contribute to the course this year, could easily repave this ugly mess. I do believe it could even cover repaving the cracked sidewalk (a fall waiting to happen, considering the average age of the residents of this four-plex is 80) leading back to the unit my neighbor has  been trying unsuccessfully to sell for the last year. 

And yet, our entitled special interest group cannot see this. For all their talk of the "Farmington Woods Community" they only see one, their own. It is for this reason that I titled the following report:

There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See

On Aug 6th I went to the Golf Pow Wow. The room was filled with the usual suspects and our board president sat in the back. The moderator told the audience that only members of the golf club were allowed to make comments, so if you were just a lowly member of the condo association, aka a resident, your voice was not to be heard.  

The purpose of the meeting, he said  was to focus on  business suggestions for building golf membership. It was interesting to hear the suggestions which ranged from using resident funds to have a TV commercial produced, to having golf members solicit other friend and families to join FW golf club.

Yes, that’s right, it’s finally been decided that Farmington Woods truly is a golf club and not a country club. That begs the question as to why every resident of this condominium community pays minimums to the clubhouse when they are not members of the golf club. It seems to me the “clubhouse” was built as an amenity for the “golf club”. 

If Farmington Woods was really a country club that would make sense, but by their own admission, it is not. The logic of this was lost on the group so the question was not asked by any golfer or the president. And as I mentioned before, I was forbidden to ask.

There was mention of the price structure, allowing monthly payments as opposed to annual payments of membership dues, which by the way seems to be the rub for many golfers. You may be interested to know that if you elect to pay your annual membership fees monthly there is a 10% additional charge to carry a balance. There was also a mention of being able to pay by credit card which apparently you cannot do at this time.

And here is one more thing I learned at that meeting. If you’re a resident and want to play golf during the day, you can’t. Residents can only play after a certain time on a certain day even if the golf course is empty. That idea seems self defeating when we are trying everything possible to break even with this operation.

One golfing resident spoke of the hardship of having a wife and new baby and trying to play here. He said he would love to be able to play when his time permitted as opposed to having Farmington Woods dictate his schedule. So why are we turning away money, ($125.00 to $150.00 per game) I wondered? The answer came from someone else in the room. In order to play when you want one must be a member of the golf club. And since his membership had lapsed, he was out of luck.

But did the people who came up with this rule ever stop to think that maybe times have changed, lifestyles are different and not everyone is geriatric and retired? Many younger members in the room said they only fit in 9 holes of golf after work so why are they required to be members at all? Seemed like a reasonable question to me. Why not lift this rule and try a different model?  What’s the harm with seeing the affect that would have?

I also heard many golfers talk about being “nickeled and dimed” by all the separate charges. They would like to see golf carts included in the cost of a round of golf. Again, why not?

And then there was one person who felt it necessary to perpetrate the 2009 ad hoc Select Committee to Study Golf lie just one more time: that it would cost just as much to keep the golf course as open space as it does to keep it operating as a golf course.  If that’s the case, problem solved. Turn it into open space for all to enjoy and no one will complain about paying for it. But that isn’t this group’s focus; they just want to play golf and if the rest of the residents have to chip in and do without new driveways or better landscaping, so be it.

Once again, the Billy Casper Golf Management Group came up in conversation as if it was the end all and be all in golfing. I seem to recall that the Essex Golf Group was going to come up here and evaluate our golf club and facility for free. We never took them up on this offer and no one at this meeting saw fit to bring that up either. Why? I suspect they are afraid of what the evaluation will reveal.

And what about those golf fees? Resident golfers pay lower fees and every resident, club member or not, is paying to keep those fees down and the golf operation going. But since residents have no access to the course, that seems a bit unfair to me.

One audience member said if we offer pool and tennis to all golf members, residents and non-residents alike, we would be perceived as a country club and that may attract more new members. Another person in the audience said it was suggested years ago but that residents went “crazy” over the idea.

He added that considering all residents are now paying well over $100K this year to begin the irrigation project which they rejected in the May referendum, they might be more amenable to it now.  

My head is still hurting from trying to find the logic in that bit of reasoning.

Comments? You're welcome to email me at 2chewman@gmail.com.

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