By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
The Steiner Ranch Master Association board of directors have been weighing in on the proposed Steiner evacuation route, although not all board members agree on the subject. That disagreement has contributed to a revision of the SRMA board member code of conduct and to the topic of board member dismissal.
As elected officials of Steiner, the board has been fielding some questions from residents about the proposed evacuation routes including F, which has garnered most of the attention from the community.
The proposed $7.1 million route F, connecting Flat Top Ranch Road with RM 620, is the one of several potential evacuation routes out of Steiner and the only road that Travis County wants to make permanent.
Some board members have shared their opinions and perspectives on the road idea.
Brad Stanton, SRMA board vice president, is the Steiner district 2 representative and the proposed road would go through Steiner’s district 2.
Stanton, who is against a permanent road, shared with Four Points News some feedback on how the SRMA board is viewing the idea of an evacuation route. He said transparency among the board is important for the community since there have been issues with transparency in the past.
He said all seven SRMA board members are in favor of an evacuation-only. Christina Morales is for a permanent road. She has shared with some in the community that not everyone is against the permanent route F. Previously she was interviewed by Four Points News on the subject.
The rest of the SRMA board members are neutral to the idea of a permanent route: Naren Chilukuri, Amy Colton, Chris Langevin, Lawrence Spinetta and Rekha Garapati.
As the board has been discussing the Travis County options, SRMA board president Chilukuri on Feb. 2 introduced a “plan of action” regarding the subject of a road. He indicated he would get a meeting with county officials to hear of other options and modifications to the permanent road proposal. A tentative meeting is scheduled in the near future.
Stanton shared that he wants to be part of any discussions regarding a road placed in district 2, the district he represents.
“I have asked Naren to include myself in the meeting or send a proxy… (but) Naren has declined sending a proxy so I have provided Naren five dates to have such a meeting,” Stanton stated.
Garapati, Spinetta and Colton have remained neutral to this point and want to see more facts and options from the county regarding traffic, additional security options, sustaining property values, etc. before coming to their conclusion, Stanton stated.
Chilukuri, SRMA president, stated that it is “premature to share board’s opinion or individual director’s opinions externally.”
The SRMA board, he said, will evaluate upon receiving 1) comprehensive information including latest data/info for various route options from the county, 2) field work and 3) survey.
“We will then triangulate and board will make a motion within next 60 days contingent on all things falling in place,” Chilukuri said in an email.
SRMA rule of conduct
After this exchange a few days ago, Chilukuri shared with the SRMA board a “proposed rule of conduct” that talks about dismissing a board member and the steps the board can take.
Chilukuri shared an email to the SRMA board entitled “earnest request to SRMA board to abide by best practices, rules & guidelines”.
He stated: “Recent road/evac route issues, concerns, anxiety built around it (because of perceived impacts to a portion of community) and with difference of opinions (which is natural to have on a board), trust issues, I am beginning to see fissures in our collective objectivity, and more importantly how we conduct board business, and treat each other. Lived through board dysfunction in 2H 2016, 2017, and 1H 2018… (4500 homes, and 15k residents depend on us) is not worth it and we cannot allow that to repeat.”
Chilukuri continued via email to the board: “Every one of us have right to express our opinions in board meetings or outside of board meetings externally either electronic or social media. But depending on the nature of the issues at hand such actions will have unwanted consequences to the board and to the community as a whole, sowing dysfunction that could last for long time since it’s a close knit community and not a congress. HOA best practices and also our counsel guidance is to refrain from posting on social media or talk to news media on contentious topics prior to board deliberation and approval on such topics. Sometimes news media may interpret your statement incorrectly or print partial that may result in completely different meaning. Also, confidential board communications need to stay confidential per state laws.”
To that email, Chilukuri attached the “board code of conduct” that he said would help SRMA guide its approach in conducting business. Chilukuri stated the code was initially developed by Steiner HOA director Scott Selman in 2014 or 2015 and evolved over the years. “I meant to adopt it for our new board early 2018 but time went by. Please review and we will adopt it in this upcoming board meeting,” he said.
Stanton, vice president, does not concur with the board’s ability to dismiss a board member.
“The board was elected to serve the great residents of Steiner Ranch and not the board serving the board,” Stanton said.
Four Points News will update on this subject after the next SRMA board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 19.