« My Remarks at the 11/19/13 OM Village Board Meeting | Main | On True Leadership »

November 19, 2013

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Marshmallow Man

I find that perhaps some clarification on 2 points in my post are warranted.

1. The anger level of last night's meeting. On a scale of 1 to 10, I consider last night a 9. I had anticipated a 10+. That I write that it took over 90 minutes for the first random shouting from the crowd to start, shouldn't be taken as a point of pride.

2. I certainly didn't mention the possibility of the HCHC walking away from the Verona sale as a good thing. To be honest, I'm not sure if they can. And if they could, I restate my belief that I think local ownership is better than what's there now.

Jon

Here's my thoughts from that meeting. I was one of those young folks who didn't speak. I had a toddler at home with a friend and I had to leave at 8:30. I'm a young(ish) parent and new resident. I thought some of the comments were harsh.

1) The Verona being owned by a quasi-public entity is better than the Verona being owned by a private slum lord. But in order to exercise the benefit of the quasi-public entity's ownership we HAVE to pressure them to do right by us. Not to get out and leave it to another slumlord.

2) We should welcome the HC but demand they put a plan in legally binding writing that will produce a real solution. That plan should include:

A- Replacing the management company immediately. Not in a year. Get a good management company in there to start January 1, 2014. Whoever manages their other properties maybe?

B- Actual, likely expensive, repairs to the physical plant. Re-roofing, plumbing overhaul, replacing kitchens with modern, high-end kitchens, replacing windows with up-to-date, efficient windows, etc. These renovations should more than repair Verona -- they should update it to modern style, with stainless steel appliances and marble countertops in the kitchens, for instance.

C- Actual, definitely expensive, improvements to Verona to raise the quality of life for all residents (market and otherwise). They are owed that much, and we want some luxury features. They mentioned a gym and a pool. If that wasn't smoke and mirrors, they need to prove it. Break ground in the spring of 2014. And again, this will be in some kind of legally binding document.

D- Moderate security improvements at Verona. Cameras, a gate, a night gate attendant -- to the limit that the crazy Columbia rules allow they to have. These will also make it feel more upscale. You know you can park your lotus there, because they have a guard at the gate at night.

E- Last but not least, commit to keeping the subsidized units proportion at 20% or lower indefinitely.

If they can do that, then they're BETTER than a private landlord.

Their current plan is as bad if not worse than a private landlord. Exterior paint and landscaping, keeping the current management... They can do better, but at this point, they have to put it in writing that they will. We won't take empty words.

Marshmallow Man

Jon, I love everything you wrote. These would all be terrific improvements.

Jon

So how do we get them to do it? What can I do?

The standing-room-only meeting at the Other Barn sent them a message, but I'm afraid the message was "Get out!"

:(

Leader, please lead me!

Mary Catherine Cochran

Jon has some excellent concrete ideas on how the Verona could be an asset to the community. I'd like to see some other things tied into the deal- commitments from the County for extra funding - above the extra funding currently provided- for community schools who have x number of FRM students. A commitment to support innovative after school programs that are academically enriching at those schools- perhaps through Recreation and Parks. A commitment to encourage the DOE and County PTA to figure out a way to equalize the community based funding so that every ES has the same opportunities for its students. It's difficult because the County has minimum control over education… but there are probably ways to do it that I haven't though of. mcat

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