1. (40 Possible Points) Explain, in detail, how the community has excelled in the past year. Provide SPECIFIC examples, illustrations, stories, etc. Sample topics might include ways the association enhanced the quality of life and/or property values, challenges the association was able to overcome, successful projects, excellence in board or committee work, organizational structure, policy development, or other highlights of community living. Optional: upload an image to illustrate your text.
At Carolina Preserve by Del Webb© at Amberly, excellence derives from two primary sources: our three year Strategic Plan (updated annually) and an active, thriving community of talented and giving volunteers. This organizational structure enables us to tackle an increasing number of opportunities and challenges, with significant community involvement. (The Strategic Plan is included in Question 4.)
The Carolina Preserve (CP) HOA Board of Directors is a strategic, forward looking body, relying on our extraordinary Management Company (Kuester) for day to day operations. The Strategic Plan is updated with input from the HOA Board, Management, Board Committees, and more than 130 residents who participated in six focus-group strategy discussions. (The Strategic Plan is attached in Question 4.) Directed by the HOA Board of Directors and Management Company, four Committees of resident volunteers, each with staff and Board member liaisons, are chartered by the HOA Board: Architectural Review Committee (ARC), Finance Committee (FC), Information Technology Committee (ITC) and the Lifestyle Advisory Committee (LAC). We have limited the number of Board Committees, supplementing them with the creation of Task Forces for a variety of short term projects. The Committee charters and membership are one year commitments. The Task Forces, also comprised of community volunteers and chartered, vary in duration but rarely exceed three months.
Our significant accomplishments over the last year are consistent with the five pillars of the Strategic Plan:
1. Superior Governance
The Strategic Plan was updated (2019-2021), reviewed and published. Numerous policy updates and changes have been completed and approved. These include the Facilities Use Policy, the Club Operating Manual, creation of a repository of Legal Research and Analysis, the Emergency and Business Continuity Plan, the CP Records Retention Policy, and a new Infrastructure Improvement Fund and Spending Guidance Policy.
CP endeavors to create a strong relationship with the broader community. As such we have fostered initiatives with Town of Cary (TOC) officials. Some examples include: The Cary Police captain has attended annual and other community meetings; our Neighborhood Watch program frequently included Police, Fire and other town professionals to promote safety and security, as well as the FBI speaking on fraud and internet scams; we hosted the annual CAP (Citizens Assisting Police) dinner at our clubhouse facility, Bradford Hall (BH). We have an active CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) representation within the community consisting of resident volunteers who have been trained in community preparedness in the event of anticipated disruptions and potential hazards following a natural disaster. Our CERT members work with the TOC’s first responders. TOC personnel have participated in our community’s 9/11 and Veteran’s Day ceremonies.
Board and community members have joined the TOC Parks and Recreation committee, giving us a voice in future planning to benefit our residents. With two new parks planned, town officials have presented detailed plans on our premises, to our residents and solicited feedback. We collaborate with the TOC to protect and maintain the natural buffer areas and portions of the walking trail that are owned by the HOA. CP maintains a relationship with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corp of Engineers for guidance regarding our wetlands.
Township, County and local politicians are frequent visitors at CP. Whether they are campaigning and want us to hear their story or responding to our needs, our community is a force that is recognized and is heard.
The Board recognizes the value in partnering with local realtors to help position CP as the premier 55+ community in the Triangle, and attract an active 55+ base of new residents to maintain the vibrant energy of the community. That homes often sell in a day, is a testament to the homes, of course, but also the community vibe. Board members, staff and volunteer residents collaborated on a “retail packet” including materials promoting CP and the surrounding area. In partnership with a few local realtors who are featured on packets, they are available at the BH front desk for prospective residents and realtors who drop in to BH. Production costs are funded by our realtor partners.
2. Financial Strength and Stability
The 2019 annual budget was developed with detailed assumptions for each spending account, which we call 'Basis of Estimate' or BOE, and was reviewed in detail at a community meeting in October. Questions were raised both at that meeting and in the subsequent weeks and clarifications were provided by the Board. This budget was unanimously approved at the November annual Community Meeting. A professionally prepared study of all HOA assets is completed every five years and is modified annually with real-life replacement costs and asset life. A Capital Improvement Task Force (CITF) was chartered and developed a policy for analyzing and approving any request for a future amenity as well as a three year funding plan. We are currently evaluating the establishment of pickle ball courts using this process. Throughout the year, the Treasurer, Finance Committee and General Manager closely monitor each spending category to identify any risks and opportunities to the approved budget. This monitoring enabled the HOA to generate a 2018 surplus which was 2.7% of revenue. Despite significant infrastructure improvements and an increasingly growing appetite for an active lifestyle, our residents’ recent and near term needs continue to be met without increases to our assessments.
3. Improved Activities and Programs
The Vision, as stated in our Strategic Plan is “to be a premier active adult community with a reputation for excellence.” CP prides itself on its 126 volunteer-led, chartered clubs and groups; 273 lifestyle events; and numerous committee, and volunteer opportunities each year. Can you improve that? We did and do. The creativity of our full-time Lifestyle Director is supplemented by resident input including a formal biannual fitness and activity survey. There’s no shortage of successful projects under the CP Lifestyle umbrella.
Our Lifestyle department hosted an integrated Spring Home and Garden Show at BH. Vendors representing a plethora of home products and maintenance services along with gardening companies manned booths with information and offers for residents. Vendor shows such as these facilitate meeting the various needs of homeowners. Spring and fall Vendor Fairs are also conducted along with an annual Health Fair. All vendors pay a table-fee which contributes to our funds for lifestyle events, keeping assessments down and the fun up. Monthly “Wind Down Friday” live music encouraging residents to mix and mingle on a Friday afternoon in the BH lobby contributes to the warmth of living in CP. Many of these are sponsored vendor events, free to residents. The HOA and the Lifestyle Department favor sponsorships that contribute to a host of events at low or no cost to our residents. (Content samples from the weekly Lifestyle Newsletter and a monthly Lifestyle calendar are included in Question 4.)
A Social Events Task Force was commissioned to evaluate joint club and lifestyle event opportunities. A community wide picnic was held with 90 volunteers purchasing the food, manning the grills, clean up, etc. A great time was had by some 400 residents, with set up near our outdoor pool, Bocce courts, and the other impromptu games. (A photo from the community picnic has been uploaded for this question.)
CP Community Picnic
Two community bike rides called for new residents and new bikers to join members of the CP cycling club in the spring and fall. Cycling club leaders were joined by CP’s Fitness Director. The spring ride alone attracted about 45 residents and focused on the neighborhood. What a great way for new residents to learn the streets of CP; we hit every one, all 15 miles of them. Our fall ride attracted a few dozen cyclists, and focused on demonstrating the easy route to the twenty-six mile American Tobacco Trail (ATT) which sits virtually in CP’s backyard. From the trail we ventured over to some of the local greenways, around the scenic lakes and tree lined paths for about 12 miles. At the conclusion of each ride, participants were invited to socialize at one of CP’s five pocket parks, treated to water and healthy snacks provided by the Lifestyle department.
CP is a sponsor of the Chatham County senior games and is the host site for the Tennis and Horse Shoes competitions. The CP location has more than doubled the number of tennis participants as our clay courts are more amenable to aging players.
In 2018, a task force was chartered to formalize a CP University (CPU) program for on-site life-long learning and education. Distinct from lifestyle contracted speakers, this program would promote lecture series, e.g., 4-5 weeks at the lowest possible cost (our target is $5-$10 per session per resident.) Five class series were successfully conducted in 2018 reaching almost 150 residents. The classes were: “2018 Great Decisions” (the eight week national program with topics defined by the Foreign Policy Association), “Frank Lloyd Wright,” “The Golden Age of Radio,” “California Zinfandels and Tastings,” and “Wines of the Pacific Northwest and Tastings.” By the end of 2018, six programs scheduled for 2019 were already established with leadership by the LAC and including input by residents.
A New Resident Orientation (NRO) program was another successful project established in 2018. Designed and implemented by a task force, with supporting materials, a detailed work plan and resident volunteers to conduct several sessions, it continued as a quarterly program before the end of the year. About 150 new residents were in attendance throughout the year. In an established community with so much to offer it can be overwhelming for new residents. CP is a welcoming community and the orientation program helps accelerate new residents’ acclimatization to their new surroundings. The orientation addresses all aspects of life at CP but also the tremendous offerings provided by our location within the Triangle of N.C. New residents are invited to upcoming orientation sessions at the time they register for ID’s and website access at Bradford Hall. An email invitation follows. In addition, and email blast is sent to all CP residents prior to each orientation for anyone who may have not yet signed up. (The communication email blast is included in Question 4.) All materials have been updated for 2019.
“CP Connections” is a magazine of professional caliber written, edited, published and distributed (to all 1360 homes) solely by resident volunteers. It is another resource for the community to learn more about other residents and events in and outside the community. Topics of interest range from book club reviews, to resident short stories, and even a puzzle or two. Each issue typically has a theme, supported by a feature story, such as interviews and reminisces by CP veterans about their wartime service or a photo spread of entries and winners in the annual CP Photo competition sponsored by the Photography Club. CP Connections is self funded through local advertising.
CP is a welcoming community. It is also a charitable community. The CP Cares club is a conduit for residents to get information about the various volunteer and charity needs in the greater Cary and Triangle area. One resident was recently featured on WRAL TV for his work at the Durham Rescue Mission. Residents continuously volunteer their time at local food pantries as well as collect food for these pantries and the USO mission at the Raleigh-Durham airport. The CP Cares Club conducts an annual holiday “Angel” tree program, supporting well over 100 children each year. Many residents choose to serve as aides at a local elementary school while others, known as “The CP Geezers,” work at Habitat for Humanity.
A new club, “Thriving in Place” (TIP) has been established, recognizing that an aging community will have unique needs while desiring to remain in our homes as long as possible. Our volunteers help those in our community. The volunteers can drive a resident to a doctor’s appointment or perform simple household tasks like changing a light bulb or a smoke alarm battery. The CP volunteering-mentality is a testament to our residents, facilitated by our Strategic Plan and policies, as well as access to technology including our website and data storage systems.
In 2018 CP was one of two trial sites, and the only 55+ site, in the Research Triangle of N.C. for a program to prevent diabetes. Conducted by the North Carolina State University, “Eat Smart, Move More, Prevent Diabetes,” was a one year program. Participants were screened for eligibility. Those who qualified met weekly for one hour at BH. Based on the program’s success, NC State has obtained the funding to continue and expand the program in 2019. The program has been recognized by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and will be offered statewide and include all Pulte Del Webb© active adult communities. The cost to CP’s participants is $30 (and valued at $430). The $30 fee will be fully refunded upon participant’s completion of the program. To determine eligibility, fasting glucose and other factors were determined at CP’s on-site Wellness Fair in January. The 2019 program at CP begins February 8, 2019.
4. Enhanced Infrastructure
CP’s state of the art fitness center in BH was renovated last year; all equipment was updated and new equipment added; recumbent bikes, new ellipticals, stair step, etc. (A photo of the refurbished fitness center has been uploaded for this question.)
CP Fitness Center Renovation
Our 35,000 square foot clubhouse, Bradford Hall (BH), is our show-case amenity. It is front and center for realtors and potential buyers as a first impression of CP. As such, keeping it fresh and up to date is instrumental to preserving both the CP lifestyle and homeowner values. Bradford Hall is now ten years old and used by hundreds of residents on a daily a basis. Natural wear and tear presents an ongoing challenge. In 2018, we embarked on a major undertaking to refurbish the first level (excluding the indoor pool area, and the fitness center which as previously mentioned as renovated last year.) An Interior Design Task Force was established, including residents with interior design backgrounds and interests. A new color palette was introduced along with new carpeting, furniture, painting, staining of all wood surfaces, new art work, chairs and tables (including that for ballrooms to host over 160 people, etc.) were introduced. Existing furniture was repurposed when possible, and a financial strategy was developed to fund the costs of the recommendations. Upstairs is now complete—come see! Work for the downstairs will commence this year, again utilizing a task force.
A “deep cleaning” schedule has been established for our Bradford Hall state of the art kitchen used by clubs and groups, often servicing more than 100 attendees. In addition, we replaced a 10 ton heat pump unit (HVAC), replaced and upgraded underwater lights with LEDs for the outdoor pool, orchestrated clock tower repairs, and replaced sand and filters for the indoor and outdoor pools. These projects were conducted to the extent possible with minimal disruption to resident’s access to CP amenities, and again, with no call for an increase to assessments.
Carolina Preserve is a community that also values our out-of-doors. With an area that contains 1360 homes and all the common property that goes with it, it takes a village.
Last year we restored, replaced and painted CP entrance signage, repaired and maintained landscaping and irrigation at CP entrances, replaced bubbler water features and plantings behind Bradford Hall, repaired entrance fountains, and restored and repaired 20 common area eroded swales and storm water inlets.
Our Architectural Review Committee (ARC) is the go-to source for residents seeking to improve their properties. They are also the guardians of our quality appeal in preserving our property values. Twelve trees were replaced in buffer areas including common areas and walking trails, as directed by the Town of Cary. In 2018 the ARC took on brave work to allow the installation of solar panels on individual homes, working with the Board for a measured policy change. CP now has three solar homes already installed. CP endeavors to keep the community fresh, and up to date with new state of the art technologies, following resident preferences.
CP loves our trees! With their growth, however, and because not all residents are arborists, this was the year of the tree. Too many trees were replaced with those that did not conform to community guidelines. To ensure the community appeal and property values would be maintained, the ARC set about to inform and support residents, by conducting a detailed seminar for all residents, before they spent money on remedies that would be inappropriate and/or in violation of community standards.
CP has embraced numerous Go-Green initiatives. A “Beautification” group was established to add more color to the community, take advantage of resident green-thumbs, give the gardener’s an outlet for their talents and interests, and minimize contractor landscaping costs. For residents whose private property needed their own gardening gems cut back, the Beautification group volunteered to cut them back, dig them out, and use them for common areas. Hence, the purchase of new foliage was minimized, helping to reduce landscaping costs. The group of more than 50 volunteers planted over 2000 bulbs and 1500 plants, bushes and trees. This project provided a strong sense of self worth and value to those who participated, as well as pride among all residents who enjoyed the results.
It is evident that CP residents take great pride in their community. Trash is not a problem. At least not ours! However, recently we have been surrounded by construction of several new developments and their contractors don’t necessarily clean up to our standards. Another CP volunteer group, Adopt-A-Spot, was established in partnership with the Town of Cary. Residents get cool Cary-provided hats and reflective safety vests. The HOA provides the donuts, and about once a quarter, together we go for a walk along the perimeter of our community. Along the way, we pick up trash and recyclables with Town of Cary supplied “grabbers” and trash bags. The township arranges to pick up the filled bags. Another win-win for residents to stay active, helping the broader community we enjoy, and helping to maintain our property values.
5. Excellent Operations
The diverse Board consists of professionals from fortune 100 companies, CFOs, CEOs, Lawyers, Marketing and Market Research, Education, Real Estate and Technology sectors. These talented professionals bring an outstanding breadth of experience to bear on the development and maintenance of excellent operations for the CP HOA.
A strong partnership has been established between the Board and our Management staff. The General Manager attends all Board meetings, and there is a Management liaison represented on each Board Committee. Lines of responsibility are clearly delineated, with the Management staff responsible for day-to-day operational matters and the Board responsible for strategic guidance and decisions.
For transparency, in addition to the annual Community meeting, the Board holds monthly Open Working meetings, quarterly Community meetings, and an annual meeting for Budget review and comments. To facilitate communication to all residents the Board maintains a Board Communication page on our web site,www.cpamberly.net, which announces and details explanations or background on Board decisions.
Our website is the heart of all communications at CP, and a focal point at our New Resident Orientations. The website has a public component to advertise Carolina Preserve to potential new residents, as well as a secure, private intranet component with information solely for residents. The intranet has detailed information to enhance the residents’ experience of life in CP, including a Resident Directory to facilitate communication among residents, a comprehensive event calendar to publicize Lifestyle and Club activities, Message Boards for residents to communicate with each other on various topics, and special sections devoted to communications from the Board and Management staff. One of the four standing Committees of the HOA, the Information Technology Committee (ITC), has the charter to oversee the website and to suggest new capabilities for the intranet. To facilitate resident’s usage, ITC volunteers conduct periodic small-group training sessions. Day-to-day maintenance of the website is supported by Management’s Webmaster.
All of our 126 clubs and groups are chartered, with a clearly defined purpose and specific residents identified as the responsible leaders of each. Each club has access to the numerous website functions including a room reservations system (which handles about some 4500-5000 reservations each year, including club, group, Board, lifestyle, and individual requests), email and message board capabilities provided for communications with their membership, and registration for events. Each club or group also has unlimited private space in the document storage system for its own use.
Several years ago, the HOA set a goal of running a paperless office and initiated an off-site cloud document- storage system. In 2018, the Board reviewed the HOA’s document storage system, and after extensive research and consultation with the Management Company, the Board decided to move from a simple document storage system to a full online Microsoft Office 365 environment compatible with the Management Company’s systems. The movement and reorganization of over 150 gigabytes of data to the SharePoint document repository in Office 365 is ongoing and will be completed in 2019, but already the HOA is seeing enhanced capability, closer ties with Management systems and reduced costs with the new system.
Thriving in Place (TIP) is a club of resident volunteers who provide assistance to other residents in need of temporary help to be able to continue to stay in their own home, such as driving a neighbor to a doctor’s appointment, or changing a light bulb. TIP uses the data bases built into the website to manage the services provided, the volunteers for each service, and the individual service requests to see that all requests are fulfilled. TIP also uses the HOA SharePoint document repository to store its records of residents requesting services, volunteers providing services, and community resources. This effort is all managed and run by community volunteers, who can keep up with all the moving parts, providing this needed help by utilizing cloud storage and sophisticated website database capabilities.
In addition to website and document storage support, the HOA and Management supports all clubs and groups with club/group leader training, financial support including accounting support such as filing their sales taxes, absorbing their income tax impact on the HOA, and providing their leadership with appropriate insurance coverage.
In summary, strong leadership by the Board in partnership with our Management Company and Staff, use of our Strategic planning model and technology, and an extensive network of resident volunteers is what makes CP a successful model for excellence.