A Word from the Commodore

We have just passed midway of the 2017-2018 fiscal year.  A year we knew would be full of change and challenges. Some of the changes have presented challenges and some challenges have prompted change.   So here we are mid year adapting, adjusting and moving forward.

Our biggest challenge, the marina dredge, is still in front of us.  Needless to say that everyone would have welcomed an open, useful and enjoyable marina for this season.  All who worked on it were hopeful, but honestly, completing the project by this season was probably always a pipe dream.  Though an engineering team had been hired, concentration on the project did not start until JC was hired last June.  So, we have actually accomplished a great deal in just 8 months.  Remember this is a two-fold and complex project, involving a marina dredge and a marina wall.

Progress has been made. Thanks to Bill Duncan’s dedication, the loan packages were prepared for two very receptive banks. We now have a completed design for proceeding with the project, the permitting application has been submitted and we are taking bids for the wall.

We still have two “swells” to navigate.  The previous spoils area does not have the capacity to hold the spoils for the anticipated dredge.  This is frustrating and a solution must be found to deal with the spoils in the most creative and economical way possible or the project is stumped.  It is unfortunate that this fact was not clear from the last dredge, which evidently filled the area and prevented the complete execution of the last dredge. Had it been understood, we could have been looking for a spoils area for the past 4-5 years, preparing.  A final cost estimate is dependent on the spoils disposal method.

Additionally, and critical to the project is finding a responsible and economically feasible financing solution. 

Many factors have contributed to the rapid silting of the marina but if we can afford to, we have a real chance to get it right this time and complete a more long-term solution. BI Marina can be a profitable concern, managed for the first time by someone with many years of professional marina experience

Please appreciate the many hours of work that staff, board members and volunteers, are dedicating to resolve the marina situation.   The marina is an important asset that sets Belle Isle apart.  If you have questions, please ask JC.  He is ready and willing to share information and facts.

Just a couple of months prior to the start of the 2017-2018 year we experienced the loss of administrative staff and volunteers temporarily stepped in to make deposits, post checks and pay the bills.  This change actually proved to be beneficial. Valuable tax information was revealed that allowed the Purser to reduce our tax liability approximately $20,000 and recoup several years of overpayment, a result of failure to file proper forms. 

Another challenge for everyone has been the anticipation of receiving accurate financial reports.  It has been frustrating for the BOS, Financial Committee and all residents.  We have explained to you many times that this problem has existed for almost 2 years and has been unbelievably difficult to correct.  I will not go through all of this again, but will be happy to explain it further by request. On the plus side, the yacht club is financially stable and overall within budget, meeting our obligations, all without having to use any reserve funds.

After many corrections to and reconciliation of accounts by Erin, our bookkeeper, Kelley Moore, Accountant and Judy Troup, Purser, we have accurate reports to distribute for July 2017-December 2017. 

Final tweaks are being made to the new accounting system, Tops, and management is very close to launching full use of the system that will allow residents to have access to their accounts.  This too, has been a tedious accomplishment and required many hours of training by staff.   Set up has not occurred as quickly as JC had hoped as Tops’ new, upgraded system has had some snags to overcome, but the technical team has been working to resolve the problems. We are almost there.  All accounting after December 2017 is on Tops and the old system closed out.  An audit will be conducted to assure accountability from one system to another. All reports will be generated from the Tops system from December 2017 forward. 

A notice and instructions will be forthcoming to residents regarding access to your accounts on Tops.  JC and Colleen will be available to assist.

Nature also challenged our community in the last six months with Irma and the winter storm.  We thankfully survived these storms with little misfortune. These storms spurred discussions toward better emergency management for the future.

The first part of our year has also held some changes and accomplishments:

We repaired the yacht club retaining wall that was damaged during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.  We will be patching the parking area and sowing grass this Spring to complete the repairs.

The new management team is settling in and we are very fortunate to have these dedicated, professionals on our side.  Erin Roper, Colleen Trimmer and JC Cappleman. Reach out to know them. They are here to assist all residents.  Just ask.

Billy Roberts retired after many years with Belle Isle.  His position was not filled.  We are now contracting all work.  Work orders are still handled as in the past.

The web site is better than ever.  Please utilize it for your calendar of events, notices and general BI information.  Enjoy the blog for news and articles of interest.  Nancy Voiselle’s articles are interesting and well presented. You may submit articles for publishing to Colleen at the marina office.  It is your blog. Use it.

Remember, that hard copies of the calendar and blog articles may be picked up in the distribution box at the mailboxes.  The number of hardcopies is limited so please take one only if you do not have access through your computer.

Thanks to Randy and Kate Beaver we added beautiful additions to Battery White and enjoyed a great community service day.  I look forward to more. 

We also owe thanks to Randy and Kate for the framed official certificate from the National Register of Historic Places, recognizing Battery White.  It has been hung in the Yacht Club.  Ed and Mimi Beaver provided a Plexiglas-boxed model of a Confederate Blockade Runner, typical of ships that operated near Georgetown.  Both gifts are beautiful additions to the Yacht Club and I am deeply grateful.

There is a new “Lending Library” in the yacht club, an inspiration from Nancy Voiselle.  I hope many are enjoying and sharing books.

Our grounds look good.  I hope everyone is enjoying the newly mulched beds.  Thanks to Regime 1 for the cleanup to the front gate.  They graciously included the gatehouse and entrance walls to their regime power-washing project.  We are ready for the Plantation Tour.  Don’t forget to contribute cookies for the day.  Contact Aysel Dyer to donate.

The yacht club has proven to be an income generator, being frequently rented for showers, weddings, class reunions and other activities.  Thanks to Susan Duncan for managing the rentals.  We look forward to new bookings.

I have not been able to attend in many months, but I understand that Carol and Marc Lorson are doing a great job hosting Forth Friday and special events.

We are so happy to have Milligan’s grill and I hope everyone has been able to participate in the “special events”. 

For me two accomplishments over the last six months are very personal. The first is the renovation of the Rice Canal Club.  It was sad that such a neat amenity for homeowners had been neglected. However, thanks to funds from the Wahoo Tournament through Roger Cooke and Charles Young, design talents from Miriam Swiler and construction supervision from JC, the RCC is now a beautiful amenity for resident’s enjoyment.

The second accomplishment involves the Board.  When I started this tenure, as Commodore, my personal and primary hope was to work with a cohesive, respectful and productive Board.  There is no doubt that my hope was fulfilled and I am proud to serve this Board.

The current Board inherited several difficult tasks including the dredge, an inadequate accounting system and major changes in management.  They faced every challenge and change with positivity.  No decisions are made in haste and they are focused on serving the community.  They have sought to achieve a level of transparency that allows for a community of truth and not speculation.  Everyone is invited.  You will see a dedicated and diverse team of volunteers working together.

Also remember that you may also place any concern, question or comment on the BOS Meeting Agenda by providing your matter, in writing, to any BOS member. 

On the horizon:

The Board has committees continuing to work on clarification of by-laws and policies and procedures.  Chairman, Barb Passmore, has reported on these activities and explained the process for by law changes, which will require owner participation.  In the mean time, the Board is applying our current By-laws, Master Deed and Restrictive Covenants to its decisions.

Projects on the immediate horizon include recommendations from the Finance Committee for repairs to the Beach House and the tennis courts.

In conclusion, I am sure I have left something or someone out. If so, it is not intentional.  I extend my sincere thanks to everyone who contributes personal time and energy in support of Belle Isle.


Carol Mason Mcmeekin