By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Handling of the new dog park and new Lake Club parking area projects – which likely cost over $1.1 million – are at the center of an effort to recall the majority of the seven-member Steiner Ranch Master Association HOA board.
“The (SRMA) Recall Committee was enacted to increase visibility of what is happening in our neighborhood and enact change,” said Rachel McGilvray, a member of the SRMA architectural committee and the new recall committee. “It’s important for our community to know that this is happening.”
Deborah Arizmendi-Kopack agrees. She is another member of the SRMA architectural committee and the recall committee.
“It’s not about a dog park or about the Lake Club or about the lack of landscaping or the residential grade swings,” Kopack said. “It’s about the board’s inability to manage our community in a responsible and transparent manner. It’s about the fact that they don’t listen to the community. It’s about the fact that they don’t follow-up on simple requests.”
The lack of official documents and oversight for the construction of the dog park and the Lake Club parking lot and fence were a catalyst to forming the recall committee which launched efforts in early October.
Joel Hargett, Lance McGilvray and Jeremy Jungbauer are the other three residents on the recall committee. All are ready to fill SRMA board positions. Collectively they have felt the current board has mismanaged recent projects and has been sloppy with keeping appropriate records.
In general, the recall committee members are concerned with how the SRMA board is treating valuable funds raised from homeowners as well as how the SRMA board is trying to embark on a larger project – the $2+ million upgrade of the Steiner offices and one of its community centers.
Rachel McGilvray has a degree in architecture and health, safety and welfare are hugely important to her. When she saw some things in the Steiner playground equipment that could be harmful to “our children” and some exposed walls in the Steiner HOA offices that were in code violation, she knew she needed to get involved.
When the SRMA board started working on the grand $2+ million Towne Square 2.0 project, “I know they don’t have the experience and capacity to do a project like that,” McGilvray said. “The lack of knowledge of the board and inability to track paperwork” are two red flags for her.
The lack of necessary project documents is the main reason Kopack got involved. She is a program manager/owner representative for commercial construction with experience primarily in healthcare construction.
“The lack of documents… nothing was in order,” McGilvray said. “The more we asked, the more we got pushed back.”
Residents, including McGilvray and Kopack, have been asking for documentation on the dog park and Lake Club projects since the June SRMA board meeting. The next month they made a written request.
Finally some documents were produced last week but there are other key documents still missing.
“It has come to light that the proposals, construction documents, contracts, etc., were ‘not kept’ by our HOA former president, Naren Chilukuri, now board secretary, and possibly our HOA attorney,” McGilvray said.
This discovery was divulged in a Zoom meeting on October 17 with several members of the board, the contractor, the community manager from Grand Manors, and two members of the SRMA architectural committee – McGilvray and Kopack. The HOA attorney and the architect were not in the meeting, McGilvray said.
“The biggest discovery from this meeting was that the HOA copies of the documents for the (construction at the) Lake Club and new dog park were ‘lost’,” McGilvray shared.
During the Zoom meeting, according to her, the contractor of the projects stated: “All of this started because someone didn’t keep the [darn] documents. I can understand their (residents and architectural committee) frustration. They should be able to walk in and say, ‘I want to see the contracts.’…all of that should be readily available.”
McGilvray shared that it appeared that all of the parties present in the Zoom meeting realized that “we have not been told the whole truth” about the projects that the contractor has completed on behalf of the community, which was directed and overseen by the SRMA board.
“The contractor completed the job he was hired to do, based upon the direction from the board,” she shared. “Deb and I feel terrible for him because he is getting so much flack for missing documentation, but it isn’t his fault.”
“It’s the HOA former president’s (Chilukuri’s) fault for not keeping the documents,” McGilvray said.
During the last week’s meeting, in his defense, Chilukuri said, “We sign a lot of documents, I don’t keep the documents because I rely on the management company to maintain these for us. I don’t keep documents; there’s hundreds of documents. I don’t keep the contract for TDS. I don’t keep the contract for…Urban Dirt. I don’t keep those contracts. Personally, I don’t see a need to keep those documents.”
McGilvray outlined the discussion highlights from last week’s construction Zoom meeting:
- Prescribed maintenance of gravel at Lake Club (every 1-2 months) was not instituted;
- Three-inch gravel depth specified, after project completion, more gravel added due to ruts but the extra gravel is the main reason for the complaints about the parking lots and tires digging in and cars getting “stuck”;
- Boat ramp and road is public property, and the 30-foot easement onto the SRMA lot is a no build zone and adds lots of limitations to what can be done;
- Suggestions were made for beneficial improvements in the future;
- There was also a long discussion about permitting at the Lake Club and we are waiting for documentation from the governing agencies showing that they were not required.
Then the following night during the public comment period at the October SRMA Board meeting on the 18th, the results of the Zoom meeting were shared. There were 20 residents in attendance at the meeting and 40 more through Zoom.
“I informed the board that it was this type of mismanagement that the recall is based upon,” Kopack shared.
A community member asked “What happened to the documents? Why weren’t they presented in June when we asked for them? Why didn’t you tell us that they were lost?”
“In hindsight, we all could do a better job,” said Chris Langevin, when he was president of the SRMA board last week.
Chilukuri presented a timeline of the Lake Club project at the board meeting. He shared it was identified as an issue in 2020.
According to Langevin at a previous board meeting, the cost of the two projects – over $1.1 million – were as high as they were partly due to several change orders made during construction.
As of this week, the recall committee is still seeking more documents:
- Where did the original master service agreement (a contract that outlines what each party is responsible for) documents go, signed by the contractor in the HOA office at Towne Square? The documents should remain in the building, but as of this week, they still haven’t been located.
- To date, the recall committee has received two pre-construction MSA’s, progress drawings, and what appears to be estimates for construction.
- The recall committee has not received 100% construction documents, construction contracts, closeout documentation, etc.
“It is their lack of responsiveness to the community that has caused this situation with the contractor,” Kopack shared at the board meeting.
It was shared during the public comment period of the board meeting that the contractor has received several harassment-type emails about the work he did in Steiner through his work website.
“I would like to kindly ask all residents to be civil because this is not the only report of harassment this week,” McGilvray said. “We try to treat everyone with courtesy, and we urge everyone to act with good manners, treat all residents and staff with respect, and take care of our neighborhood.”