Saturday, April 6, 2013


This month’s report is rather long so I’ll keep my comments short and to the point, not an easy task for me as some already know.

As usual I think I’ll start with a short history lesson, this time involving golf and how it’s funded. Contrary to what many would have you believe, when we purchased here in 1999 we were told that the course was self-funded. While that may have been true until about 2005, things changed drastically that year.

Around that time golf started losing money on an annual basis. At first this was covered by profits from earlier years. But by 2009 things got so bad that a committee was formed to address the problem.

After reviewing all possible uses for the course and admitting that it was now losing money and membership on an annual basis, the Ad Hoc Select Committee to Study Golf, a group made up entirely of golfers came to the conclusion that for the time being residents were going to have to make up for any shortfalls encountered by the golf operation.

They also stated that this temporary fix should be evaluated yearly to measure progress in both increasing membership and stemming the tide of the losses. Supposedly that approach has been taken every year since 2009. That makes five years now that residents have openly been supporting the course.

Something else happened in 2005. The 20 year bond floated in 1985 to purchase the course was due to be paid off leaving us with about $100K to use on other things. And we did. That year $75K was used to replace the pump house that serviced some of the course. That didn’t sit well with some residents and a minor battle ensued. The district won in the end.

Then, as we all know, last year a plan was announced to bond $4M dollars, again over twenty years for course infrastructure and clubhouse improvements, including an elevator and a much needed horseshoe bar. That boondoggle was voted down by an overwhelming 2-1 majority in May of 2012.

And yet here we are in 2013, five years after the “select” committee announced that residents were now responsible for golf operating shortfalls, a decision that was to be reviewed annually, while the tax district funds the very improvements to the course that residents rejected almost a year ago. 

It’s part of the 10 Year Stategic Plan that was produced after a series of Focus Groups showed that residents' number one concern in 2011 was that the course be self-sustaining. Now that's responsive government!

This was supposed to be short and I would end it here, but now there’s a new twist. Last year, a small group, known as the Mom’s of Farmington Woods was formed. They had the idea that since so many young families were moving here for all kinds of good reasons the demographics might now call for a playscape to be built for the 80 or so children now residing here. After all, 89 residents have a golf course of their own.

That turned out to be a big mistake. When you read the following report you will see that not much changes at Farmington Woods. Fees can go up, taxes can increase and golf can lose all the money it wants, but if a group from a new demographic requests a pittance, say $5K to build a playscape, well they have declared war on the powers that be here.

I’ve gone on long enough with this and the story just disgusts me, but apparently some individual or group of individuals thought it would be fun to pass out flyers anonymously that showed their contempt and downright animosity for the parents and children of Farmington Woods. Since I’ve gone on long enough, if you want to see the flyer and get a different slant on how this is playing out you need to visit a blog I recently discovered at

Some philosopher, I believe it was Machiavelli was fond of saying “It is not enough that I succeed, you must fail.” I think we have a small group of people at Farmington Woods who are not happy taking from residents to support their lifestyle, they want residents to suffer as well.

To them I can only say be careful. As a student of history I recall a lawsuit being filed a few years ago that involved Farmington Woods barring children from some of the pools. I remember the outcome of that. I'm not sure that the aforementioned group does.


March's minutes give us a look at how some residents of Farmington Woods view children and it's not pretty.

At the pre-meeting question and answer session, half a dozen individuals spoke out against the proposed playscape for children. One resident stated that the majority of children at Farmington Woods belong to parents who are renters or young starter families that have no intention of staying here anyway, so why make such an investment? She told the audience that just five minutes outside our gate are plenty of places for kids to play, so she didn’t want it in her back yard or funded with her dime.

Another resident feared that the maintenance and liability of such an investment would only hurt Farmington Woods as a community. She was extremely concerned about maintenance costs of the playscape, stating that we can’t currently maintain the green area next to her house on Eagles Glen.

Either way, the overwhelming feeling in the room that night was that playscapes for kids did not belong in Farmington Woods; the general manager smiled and nodded as each resident spoke out against it.

Interestingly, this is a $5K line item in the budget, the same amount added to the golf club’s already six figure budgeted deficit. The irony contained in the fact that the playscape screamed investment while the golf course cried loser was lost on this crowd.

(Mom’s, you need representation at these meetings; it appears you are being hoodwinked by our GM. His job is to say yes to you but his alliance is to the board that hired him. And although we do have new members, five of the old guard still reside on the board and block every effort for change that new members bring forward. This is evidenced by the budget information two paragraphs down.)

One very brave resident named Lou stood up with a series of questions but was only allowed to ask a couple. So he chose wisely and asked, “Why are we still investing in an irrigation system when it was overwhelming voted down last year?” No real response for him other than to tell him his time was up. He was told he could ask the question at the end of the meeting.

By the way Lou, you’re right,  not only was the irrigation system voted down, so was the 10 Year Strategic Plan and yet it seems like we are on course to squeeze it through somehow, by any means possible. Get ready for the elevator ride next. And the return of the horseshoe bar!

It was reported that the clubhouse has plans for some improvements of its own. Clubhouse locker rooms will be updated for 89 resident golfers while 80 resident children will just have to wait for their playscape, or move. 

The budget was the big ticket item and 4 board members voiced strong opposition to it. One member insisted that her comments go on record. Another talked about all the empty units in her area because of high fees and fixed incomes. Her point was affordability.

Despite the resistance, the budget passed 5 to 4 with the additional $5K allocation to the golf course’s projected loss for the next fiscal year, for a total of about $129K of resident funds going to a once self-sustaining golf operation. This has been going on for years now.

Yes, our budget was calculated to accommodate a loss to a project that was voted down. And you should expect the loss to be higher by the time this budget is all said and done. The MA’s budget is projected at $4,386,130.00, an increase of $120,648.00 for a 2.83% increase while the FWD budget projection is $1,928,275.00 an increase of $99,729.00, a 5.45% increase! The proposed budget packet should be coming in the mail soon.

We were once again told the tale that we have NEVER had a special assessment at Farmington Woods but that is categorically untrue. There has been a monthly assessment in place since 1998, delivered to us by folks who were tired of paying restaurant minimums and decided to spread the burden of the restaurant around to all residents, not just golfers. These are minimums that 43% of us don’t use but must pay regardless.

One resident mumbled in disgust, “we get nothing for it” which led to another rather rude resident blithely responding with “just move!” I guess she thought she had come up with the perfect solution to the problem. But can you imagine if all of those who disliked paying the minimum just moved? 43% of all Farmington Wood’s units would be empty.

Irene Lorretto countered by saying that many area condo’s had a special assessment for snow removal during the last blizzard and we are lucky because we didn’t. We also didn’t have snow removal for three days so many residents shoveled out their own driveways. Should we be pass that assessment on to the MA?

Margaret Darby gave a power point presentation on her idea to make golf profitable. She calls it the Platinum Program, kind of like the American Airlines rewards program. The idea came to her while she was on vacation watching airplanes fly overhead. I'm assuming it was an American Airlines plane.

The plan goes as follows. Basically, if you play golf here for 10 years, you would have a fixed annual rate for golf for the rest of your life. It would include bag and golf cart fees with average annual membership of $3,500 for single and $5,500 for a family.

She says there’s already interest in the program and some residents have signed up. It’s also open to non-residents. The program is designed to retain our long time golfers with some kind of reward.

Not quite sure how that’s going to attract new members, but I guess it’s a good deal for those who already have a good deal here at Farmington Woods. Ah yes, life is good.

As the meeting ended, they thanked us for coming and announced that a budget meeting was about to take place. Apparently they were going to tweak the numbers before the packets went out to residents. Expect change.

There is hearing scheduled April 18th to discuss the District Budget in the North Lounge of the Clubhouse. If you care how your taxes are being spent, you should attend.

1 comment:

  1. If you don't have a Google email account it's a real challenge to post here. I received this comment by email and it's definitely worth reading:

    Being a mom and living here for as long as I have I know all about the pool lawsuit and it's outcome. This place hasn't been an over 55 community in a very long time so how about those that don't like young families and kids MOVE OUT not the other way around. This threatening flyer is just that! I sure hope that sweet man in his fancy car handing the flyers out shows up on my doorstep. I'd like to thank him. Thank him for affording me this opportunity to meet and speak with so many wonderful neighbors. Had he not touched such a nerve I would have continued to just walk or drive by rather than stop have a great conversation. I assume this man is just a lonely man who doesn't speak to his kids if he has any and doesn't know his grandkids either. They are probably better off. On another note. Life is short. I would rather live life to its fullest knowing that I made a difference. To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world. (Bill Wilson). That is how I want to be remembered. Kids are wiser than you think. Life is short so do something positive with it. Let kids be kids.