Newsletter – July 2010

     Invoices for Crestlake Homeowners’ Association (CHOA) 2010 assessments were mailed in late May and were payable upon receipt. At this time about one-third of the invoices remain unpaid.
     Your full payment of $150 for 2010 assessments must be postmarked by August 14, 2010. After this date a $25 late payment fee will be charged and you will owe $175. Late payments are costly to CHOA. Our accountant charges for the extra time required to send additional billing notices.
     Your Board congratulates those property owners who promptly paid their assessments and gratefully thanks them for their cooperation. We firmly believe that it is unfair to the property owners who pay in a timely manner to not vigorously pursue 100% payment from everyone. Please be aware that if it is necessary to take legal action to collect your payment, you will responsible for all attorney fees and court costs. Based on cases from previous years, you will owe approximately $600-$700. Please don’t put yourself in this situation.

     How does your Board use the assessments that are collected? The simple answer is "ponds and commons." Here is a breakdown of annual income and expenses:

$51,450 Assessments

$22,600 Ponds and commons maintenance and mowing
$32,000 Loan payment for ponds remediation project #2
  $4,500 Legal and accounting
  $2,300 Insurance and taxes
  $1,630 Miscellaneous
$63,030 Total expenses

     A more detailed budget may be seen at in the Documents section. Obviously CHOA is operating in a deficit. To meet expenses, we are relying on 100% payment of assessments and utilizing cash reserves.
     Your Board has made every effort to trim expenses – changed accounting firm, reduced insurance expense and controlled discretionary ponds and commons projects – but these are dwarfed by the "800-pound gorilla" – the required ponds and commons maintenance and the loan payment for pond remediation project #2. Your Board believes that using cash reserves will go only so far. At this time we are projecting an increase in CHOA assessments in 2012 from $150 to as high as $200. The increase might be needed in 2011 or it might be postponed until 2013, but it is inevitable.

     In January CHOA organized its Board of Directors and committees for 2010. Your board members and committee chairs are shown on page one.
Your Board of Directors meets monthly at 7:00 p.m. on the second Wednesday at the St. Joseph Township Building, 400 W. Sherman St. Here is the schedule for the remainder of 2010:
     August 11
     September 8
     October 13
     November 10
     December 8
     January 16, 2011 – Annual Membership Meeting

     It is important to know that at the January 17, 2010 Annual Membership Meeting, the two-year term of three board members had expired and they were to be replaced with new board members. Absolutely no one was found to be interested in volunteering to fill these three openings. Two of the retiring board members generously agreed to remain on the board and continue to serve. After seven months of continuous recruiting, one board position still remains unfilled.
     This is a plea to volunteer yourself. When shared with a full board, the commitment is not very demanding. The spirit of volunteerism is important to the success of CHOA. While it may be easy to pass the responsibility off to anyone else, there really is no good alternative to you becoming involved.
     Your Board is concerned about the future if this trend continues. If volunteer replacements for retiring board members cannot be found, it may eventually become necessary to hire a professional manager. This will probably be expensive and would result in an even greater financial burden for CHOA members.

     During the past 12 months, your Board of Directors has:
      •  Maintained the liability insurance coverage for the ponds and commons
      •  Renewed the not-for-profit corporate status
      •  Completed an annual report
      •  Filed corporate income tax returns
      •  Collected the 2009 assessments from Crestlake property owners
      •  Established and updated a multi-year budget
      •  Created a Welcome to Crestlake flyer and began providing it to new Crestlake families
      •  Revised the Rules and Regulations governing the commons areas
      •  Scheduled a CHOA board member to attend each Village board meeting
      •  Recruited a new accounting firm
      •  Continued the maintenance of the commons areas and the ponds
      •  Recruited a new firm for the chemical treatment of Magnolia Pond
      •  Eradicated several muskrats from the Crestlake ponds
      •  Acquired a loan to repair the shoreline of Glover Pond, repair the south and east shorelines of the two Hawthorne Ponds, replace the missing riprap on Park and Grand Ponds, and installed an aerator on Magnolia Pond.
      •  Emailed announcements and monthly newsletters
      •  Maintained a Crestlake Babysitters List
      •  Continued developing a Crestlake Neighborhood Watch Program
      •  Sponsored a Child Safety Program for Crestlake families
      •  Sponsored a Halloween Parade and Festivities for Crestlake families

     Ponds Remediation Project #2 occurred during the second half of 2009. Daniel L. Ribbe Trucking was the low bidder. This is the same firm that successfully performed project #1 in 2008.
     Your Board was forced to scale back the scope of the original project. With an estimated cost of $175,000 and the uncertainty of the financial markets during 2009, your Board was faced with these unattractive alternatives:
           •  No banks would offer a loan for longer than five years. Your Board estimated that it would need 10-12 years to pay off the loan. Although banks would amortize the loan for this length of time, your Board would be forced to renegotiate terms every three to five years. Given the financial uncertainties, this was felt to be too risky.
           •  In addition to the amortization issue, one bank required a loan guaranty from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This came with a cost of 1% of the loan, plus the cost for our engineering firm to prepare and file detailed documents to the USDA and specific environmental agencies.
           •  In addition to the amortization issue, one bank required that members of your Board must personally guaranty the loan.
      After careful consideration, your Board decided to scale back Project #2 to this scope:
           •  Finish installing riprap (rocks) on both Hawthorn Ponds
           •  Remove vegetation and install riprap on Glover Pond
           •  Install an aerator on Magnolia Pond
           •  Replace damaged liner and missing riprap on Grand and Park Ponds
     This revised project eliminated installing riprap on Magnolia Pond. This pond already has river rock around its shoreline. Although this is not the correct type of rock and it is worn and beaten down, it does provide some shoreline protection.
     This revised project has a cost of $136,000. Your Board obtained a five-year fixed interest loan from Gifford State Bank in St. Joseph. This enables your Board to have affordable payments and the loan will be paid off in five years. At that time, the repair of Magnolia Pond shoreline will be put out for bids.
     The project is essentially complete with one exception. The repair to the riprap around Grand and Park Ponds has been identified. The contractor has had to wait for the ground to dry out to complete this final phase of the project. Also all homeowners along Glover Pond have improved their sump pump drains and there is no longer an erosion problem there. Your Board thanks those homeowners for their cooperation.
     Obviously maintaining the shorelines of our ponds is complicated and expensive. This is a reminder to not throw the rocks into the ponds. Parents, tell your children not to throw them. Residents, if you see someone throwing rocks, inform them not to do so. Fishermen, if you accidentally dislodge rocks, replace them.
     This year significant damage to the shorelines was found to be caused by muskrats. Your Board felt it was necessary to have the muskrats removed. The cost (unbudgeted) to trap the muskrats was $1,850. It should be noted this procedure is an inexact science and the trapper quit when he stopped catching muskrats. Should you observe muskrats, please notify your Board. Unfortunately, this may become a recurring problem.
     This year your Board budgeted $1,700 to control the weeds that grow in the riprap on all the ponds. This has improved the look around all the ponds. We budgeted $2,000 for the future control of pond weeds that will choke the ponds if not controlled.
     A new chemical contractor was hired to control the algae on Magnolia Pond. This costs $2,224 and is a significant savings over the previous contractor. The new contractor, along with the aerator, has made a significant improvement in the appearance of Magnolia Pond which had been covered by 50% algae in the past. The cost to operate the aerator is approximately $86 per month of operation. It will be shut off in October and chemical treatment will stop September 30.
     Unfortunately this year is especially bad and we are experiencing more algae on all ponds. The budget will not allow additional treatment at this time. Your Board is trying to address these problems. Homeowners can help by applying only Phosphorus-free fertilizers and by avoiding blowing grass clippings into the gutters.
    The homeowners around Catalpa Commons are to be commended. The Board told them there was no budget for dandelion control for the commons. These homeowners took it upon themselves to correct the problem.

     The Architectural Committee wants to remind all property owners that if you have a building project that includes a fence, shed, pool or an addition to your home, please contact CHOA for approval in accordance with the covenants. It is a painless procedure that helps keep Crestlake a great place to live. Please feel free to contact the committee with any questions you might have.

     Please remember that is your source for a wealth of information pertaining to CHOA. Be sure to save it as a Favorite in your browser and visit it often. You will find important CHOA documents, meeting minutes, newsletters, announcements and much more. Be sure to check the new section in the Forum, Lost and Found, and use it any time you need it.
     Are you interested in becoming a webmaster? CHOA is looking for a Crestlake resident to assist the current webmaster with maintaining You will work with the webmaster and learn how to manage a website which uses the Joomla content management system. If you are interested in learning more, go to and click on the Webmaster link at the bottom of the page.

     The Neighborhood Watch Committee and many of the Block Captains were very busy during the past 12 months.
           •  A Neighborhood Watch brochure was developed for distribution to Crestlake residents.
           •  Block Captains and members of the Neighborhood Watch Committee walked through Crestlake on several occasions in an attempt to insure that all residents were receiving information about Neighborhood Watch, the Neighborhood Watch activities and to attempt to identify Block Captains for areas that did not have Block Captains.
           •  Crestlake residents who participate in Neighborhood Watch were notified each time a crime was committed in or near Crestlake.
           •  A resident of Crestlake was credited with the identification and capture of a man who had broken into several vehicles in the Crestlake neighborhood.
           •  One Neighborhood Watch Block Captain held a Block Party for his area.
           •  Child Care and snacks were offered during Neighborhood Watch meetings in an attempt to increase attendance at these meetings.
           •  A Child Safety Event was organized and presented in September, 2009.  Seventy-five people attended this event.
           •  Materials about the Neighborhood Watch program were made available and distributed at the Crestlake Halloween Parade and Festivities to anyone who expressed interest in receiving those materials.
           •  A Crestlake Christmas Party was held but with limited success.
           •  The Crestlake Neighborhood Watch areas were reduced from 21 to 12 because Block Captains could not be found for many areas. This reduction resulted in a need for fewer Block Captains but each Block Captain became responsible for a much larger area.
           •  An attempt was made to do fund raising to provide funding for Neighborhood Watch activities through  The success of this attempt was very limited.
           •  A 2010 Event Plan was developed that included activities for families, children and adults in response to comments that the Neighborhood Watch activities were primarily directed toward children.
           •  Attempts to hold a fishing derby for Crestlake children, and a gardening contest for adults were made but there were no participants in either event.
           •  The 2010 Event Plan was scaled back as a result of an apparent lack of interest on the part of Crestlake residents.
     More Block Captains are needed for parts of Crestlake and efforts continue to find volunteers to fill these positions. Volunteers are also needed to assist with the 2010 Child Safety Event and Halloween Parade and Festivities.
     Crestlake residents are so active and creative in decorating their homes for Christmas. A Christmas Decorating Contest has been planned and a Crestlake Neighborhood Christmas Party (at La Luna Cafe) will be held at which the prizes for the contest winners will be presented. However, if no interest is expressed in this contest and the Christmas party by August 1, this activity will have to be cancelled.

     As you can tell, there is plenty going on in Crestlake. For some of you, this is the only newsletter you have received in a year. Due to the high cost of postage and materials, printed newsletters like this are typically mailed only once per year.
     Newsletters sent via email are the primary method of communicating with Crestlake property owners. Your Board strongly urges you to visit and sign up to receive additional announcements like this via email. Newsletters and meeting reminders will be emailed to you regularly. The newsletters are intended to keep you informed. Your email address will be kept confidential and you will not receive spam by signing up.

     Crestlake Neighborhood Watch will sponsor a Child Safety Event from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday, September 12 in Crestwood Park. The St. Joseph Fire Department has been invited to display their fire equipment again this year, free Child Identification packets will be available, Pro Ambulance Service has been invited to provide an ambulance for children to explore, and a variety of written materials will be available on safety issues. This year there will be the addition of several games for the children that will be safety oriented. We look forward to seeing your family there.

     The CHOA Social Committee will sponsor the annual Crestlake Halloween Parade and Festivities on October 23 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. in Crestwood Park. This is always great fun. Please bring your children and join in the parade. There will also be a costume judging and Halloween activities in the park.

     More information about both these fun-filled events will be emailed in future newsletters.