Friday, November 14, 2003

Homeowner's association meets just to spite me

Exactly one week after I complained in my blog that my neighborhood association has no meetings, my neighborhood association had a meeting. Is it coincidence? Am I psychic? Or does Impending Distractions have such a strong influence that I can bend my neighbors to my will?

Anyway, last night's meeting was a fiasco. We had guest speakers from the fire department. Their presentation was quite interesting, and within ten minutes, they'd convinced me to pay the $75 annual "fire dues" (we're not taxed for a fire department). Unfortunately, they kept going. And like the Energizer bunny, going and going and going... They had two main points: they need money, and they need volunteers. They spent more than an hour and a half telling us this in as many ways as possible. And even though it was freezing as we sat in someone's open garage, and most people were clearly anxious for things to move along, every goddamn person felt the need to ask them a question (whether it had been answered three times already, or not). I had a strong urge to "move to table this discussion," but I figured no one would know what I was talking about.

The fire department guest speakers were only the first item on the agenda. By the time we finally got around to item 2, half of the meeting's attendants had left. We then got to hear a lecture about how many people haven't paid their RMHA dues. The president talked about projects that RMHA is hoping to be able to pay for when they have enough money. Budgets were distributed so we could all see just how much upkeep of various neighborhood things costs. Then, they distributed a handout detailing exactly which homes didn't pay this year, last year, and the year previous. How crass! My address was on the delinquent list (all three years), so now my neighbors can think I'm a cheapskate even though I've only lived there for five months. I tried to explain to the president that the reason I hadn't paid my dues was that, before last night, I'd never seen any evidence of a neighborhood association. He didn't seem to pay attention, though.

Next item on the agenda was a review of the RMHA "covenants." Apparently, the covenants are a set of rules we were supposed to have received when we closed on our house. We didn't. So, we got to hear about a bunch of rules we didn't even know existed that people supposedly aren't following. When I asked for a copy of the covenants, however, no one had one to give me.

Finally, discussion of neighborhood regulations and desired projects led to several people volunteering to help get things rolling. However, nearly every suggestion was met by the president with, "We'll get to that in the spring at our next meeting." Exasperated, I called out in response, "Why do we have to wait until spring? Why don't we have a meeting every other month?" The president started to deliver an evasive answer, when everyone else chimed in with agreement. They all wanted to meet more often. We decided, therefore, to meet again in two months.

Like I said before, I have no problem paying my membership dues (and I paid them last night). But I want a neighborhood association that actually meets with some regularity. I want a forum to address grievances, I want projects to get done, and I want social activities so I can meet the people who live around me. Simply put, I want a neighborhood association that fosters a sense of community. Don't get me wrong — there's nothing bad about my neighborhood. It just doesn't feel like a community, and I think a lot of my neighbors concur.

I'm not one to sit around idly complaining, though. Last night's 2½ hours of shivering at least pointed me in the right direction of how I can do my part to achieve the sort of community I'd like to live in. I see no reason why we can't make things better.

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