President’s Potpourri – November, 2015

President’s Potpourri – November, 2015

Dear 336 CPW Friends and Neighbors,

Thanksgiving and the December holidays – Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, etc. – are on the horizon and coming into focus. The building will host the annual holiday party on Wednesday, December 9 at 6:00PM. I welcome all of you and hope we will see a large turnout. Especially from all your younger children and grandchildren. It does seem to be a big hit with them every year, and I am confident this year will be no exception.

In the spirit of those holidays, I must say there is much for which to be thankful here in our 336 CPW community. Over the past couple of years we have welcomed a number of younger couples and families into our community who will contribute to its strength, continuity and vibrancy. Moreover, just recently the Board had occasion to meet with a young couple who may one day be our neighbors. It caused me to reflect. One of these young folks grew up in this building and the other – an Upper West Sider –is the niece of a long-time resident of our building. It never ceases to amaze me how many wonderful neighborhood connections seem to keep popping up as younger generations mature and begin finding their way in the world as adults.

By now you should have received the Board’s memo concerning the 2016 budget and maintenance charges. There isn’t much for me to add here but perhaps a couple of sidebar comments may be appropriate. Comment number one is this subject certainly belongs on the list of items for which we should be thankful this season. We have been extraordinarily fortunate with the building operations, finances and staff this year and I want first and foremost to say thank you to all who play a role in those. That includes all 10 members of the Board, John Devall and his colleagues at Orsid, Sergio, Orlando and the staff at 336 and – last but not least – all residents and shareholders who contribute in small and inconspicuous – but nevertheless important – ways to our building culture.

I also want to observe it is barely six weeks ago that I wrote to you saying we were having a strong year and that we were mostly on target with the 2015 budget. While there are numerous unpredictable factors affecting our budget, it now appears we will achieve an extraordinary year in 2015 – a year that is probably unprecedented, certainly in recent annals. As the Board already reported, this creates two distinct benefits to the shareholders: (1) upon consultation with Orsid, this has allowed a recharacterization of the December maintenance payment as capital which has the benefit of adding to shareholders’ tax basis going forward and (2) it has also allowed us to take the truly remarkable action of decreasing the 2016 shareholder maintenance by 2%. Finally, although all the numbers are subject to finishing the year, closing the books and completing the annual audit, it appears highly likely we will finish the year with Board designated cash reserves – sitting in the proverbial bank – which exceed $1 million.

I do have a couple of concerns. The first – which I state only partially in jest – is that folks at 336 CPW become used to results such as these and begin to expect them every year. Not likely. The second is that we need to understand our financial condition is not risk free. Rather it is one in which we are adequately but not invincibly positioned to respond to most if not all financial contingencies and uncertainties which we know are on the horizon and which we know over some cyclical period – say two Local Law 11 reports or 10 years or through one full economic cycle including both a recession and a recovery – could come to pass. 
As noted in my last letter, we spend significant time forecasting these uncertainties and we continue to work on planning for these contingencies. We have made considerable conceptual progress inside the Board membership, although we do not as yet have any program or programs that have been vetted by the full Board. We hope to have done so by sometime relatively early in the new year. I trust you will be hearing more about that in the coming months and year.

In case you missed the announcement, Richard Soghoian announced he will retire as Head of School at Columbia Grammar & Prep School at the close of the 2016-2017 school year (June 2017). Dr. Soghoian has been at the helm of that school since 1981, making him a very long-time institutional neighbor of 336 CPW. Of course, we have had our challenges from time to time with the school and sometimes even with Dr. Soghoian. However, on balance, in my experience he has been a benevolent neighbor and partner to us. He also has compiled an admirable record of growth and development for a school that was virtually moribund when he first arrived at CGPS 35 years ago. I think his accomplishments are worthy of recognition and appreciation – especially from the CGPS community. He certainly has mine.

Our new website, www.336cpw.org, is up and running – thanks very much to Martin Propper. I encourage you to visit the website as there is a wealth of historical and current information about our building and the community.

Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Hanukkah. Merry Christmas. And best wishes to all for a splendid and healthy New Year.

Mike Schell

2017-03-05T12:26:22+00:00