Dear 336 CPW Friends and Neighbors,
Memorial Day. Flag Day. Independence Day. Bastille Day. V-J Day. Women’s Equality Day. Labor Day. Columbus Day. Equinox. All the summer holidays come and gone and getting ready for Halloween. It seems just the blink of an eye, but actually it’s been a beautiful, enjoyable, restful summer, I hope. And I hope that’s been the case for all of us at 336 CPW.
We have finished the third quarter of our fiscal year at 336 CPW and are beginning the fourth. We are in the midst of another strong year operationally, fiscally and structurally. Co-op operations are substantially on budget at the end of 9 months with most individual budget lines also on target. We still have nearly three months to go, so there’s no guarantee that we finish the year on budget. But, please rest assured the Board, the management and the staff will leave no stone unturned to accomplish it. On the cash reserves front, we have once again added materially to our proverbial “rainy day fund.” It is larger than ever, and the financial condition of the Co-op is much stronger than it was at the close of fiscal 2014.
The Board is working methodically – with the management and the staff – to analyze and assess all needs for deferred maintenance in the building. The immediate utility of this effort will be anticipation of needs for capital maintenance that could be mandated by the next Local Law 11 report. At the same time we are hoping this effort will have longer term utility in planning for capital maintenance. We will keep the shareholders and residents apprised appropriately. All that said, however, I feel confident the combination of planning and increased reserves should insulate all of us from any unhappy surprises down the road.
The shareholder relations committee has been liaising with three of our shareholders who are collaborating directly with the various public agencies and offices on the subject of CPGS traffic, noise and public safety. All parties are working with CPGS to solve – or at least improve – the traffic problems during school opening and closing. Recent reports suggest the combined efforts of the school administration, the 24th precinct, the City Council, the Borough President and the community may be having some positive impact on the problem, although no one is yet prepared to declare victory and withdraw. Said differently, it is early in the campaign and undoubtedly too early to say what the eventual outcome will be. Early reports, however, are somewhat encouraging.
I have been directly and actively engaged in 336 CPW matters of general concern since the spring of 2006. In the spring of 2007 I was one of five shareholders who offered their candidacies for board membership under the aegis of an ad hoc shareholder committee formed late in 2006. I am moved to pause and reflect on how the building has progressed and what we as a community have accomplished since that spring 2007 annual meeting. Permit me to reprise the general principles we articulated as our rationale for running and which we introduced as the platform for seeking board membership:
Many of us live on the Upper West Side because this neighborhood has always been characterized by a strong sense of community – friendly interaction between individuals of diverse backgrounds and circumstance, shared concern for each other’s well-being, a sense of connection despite the hustle/bustle of our busy independent lives and a genuine appreciation for the contributions of all to the vibrancy of the community.
The Ad Hoc Committee believes strongly in building and sustaining this sense of community with all residents welcoming new comers, encouraging participation, working collegially with the staff and the managing agent. We believe the Board must take positive, proactive steps to build and sustain community at 336. This principle will define our leadership efforts and activities.
We have just finished the October Board meeting, which effectively finishes the first three-quarters of calendar 2015 for the building. Our 10 board members – 5 new or virtually new – are getting into rhythm as a unit and working well together. I am pleased to make that report, especially because, even as the perennial optimist (sometimes a/k/a Candide), I found myself wondering if there would be a break-in period before arriving at the collaborative ease we have achieved. And all that after only 5 meetings (May, June, July, September, October).
Our five standing committees of the Board are establishing routines and rhythms of dividing the responsibilities of oversight and supervision which insure smooth and effective building operations and services. They are doing so more and more efficiently, effectively and equitably. As a reminder, those committees (with members in parentheses) are Governance (Schell, Michel, McCloskey), Finance (Kaplan, Segel, Schell), Communications (Graff, Bulhack, O’Donald), Facilities & Infrastructure (Corvi, O’Donald, Segel) and Shareholder Relations (Graff, McCloskey, Kaplan, Michel). I urge you to get to know them and to use them – perhaps a better term would be “liaise with them.”
My bottom line reason for this pause, however, is to say I think we have made excellent progress toward building and maintaining the kind of community and the kind of governance that I believe we all aspire to having. I hope so. I welcome your thoughts, comments and suggestions in that vein. For myself, I would like to say it has been a wonderful, energizing and satisfying experience for which I am grateful.
As noted in my last letter, the Board is thinking about and discussing in concept and in principle some of the larger, longer-term initiatives that will be important to our financial and structural health and welfare. These would include preparation for the next Local Law 11 review, including trying to anticipate needs that will be prudent to address, as well as those that could be required. We have had preliminary discussions concerning a complete revamp of the co-op’s ancient and completely archaic proprietary lease, with a view to having something for shareholders to approve sometime in 2016. This is a major undertaking, and I hope to be able to report more substantive progress on it before the end of the calendar year. Suffice to say at this early juncture, this will entail considerable discussion and planning at the Board level and will also require considerable discussion among shareholders before we are ready to take the definitive step. I look forward to a thorough and healthy conversation with all of you.
There is a good deal of work on our collective plates for the next several months to year or so. However, it is all for the improvement of the health and welfare of our Co-op community – in all senses of those words. On behalf of the Board, I would like to say we are all looking forward to it.
Happy Halloween and best wishes to all.