Dear Raspberry Falls Homeowner(s),
In this third and final 2021 “seasonal message,” I wanted to share with you some of the growth and development that our beautiful neighborhood has undergone this year. My wife, Karen, and I have been homeowners since 2006 and I’ve been an elected HOA Board member and your President for the past 8 months. I can honestly say from our community entrance and each Hamlet feature to our linked common grounds and our outstanding amenities – our community has never looked better.
I would like to extend a sincere thank you to my fellow Board members (who have voluntarily given so unselfishly of their time, energy and personal resources), Sr. Property Manager John Adams, the Cardinal Management team and all of our contracted vendors for their professionalism, expertise and collaboration in working seamlessly together to make our community such a special place to call home.
A very special debt of gratitude, also, is owed to the many enthusiastic and helpful residents who provided positive input, thoughtful suggestions, unwavering encouragement and trusted counsel to enable the many challenging projects we attempted in this COVID challenged year to come to fruition. We have witnessed a marked improvement in the care and maintenance of our shared open spaces, significant upgrades and refurbishment of our amenities and unparalleled communication and collaborative efforts with our City and County services and our local government officials.
This year, one of the most ambitious and critically important projects for our community has been finalizing the 2022 Reserve Study. One of the primary business duties of an HOA is to maintain and preserve the property values of the residential units and the common property. The replacement Reserve Fund has a tremendous impact on our association’s future and we wanted to be sure and correct any irregularities that may have occurred in the last (2017) study and ensure that we met the legal, fiduciary and professional requirements as they pertain to Raspberry Falls in accordance with the governing laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
To do our study we contracted Miller Dodson, a nationally respected Capital Reserve Consultant who has specialized in providing replacement reserve studies to community associations for over 30 years. In concert with their experienced team of professionals, the Cardinal Management executives and legal department, the Raspberry Falls Board of Directors and the advice and counsel of several trusted community members (our “committee”) with a background in finance and a specific knowledge of the process particular to Raspberry Falls, we feel very confident that we will have the most comprehensive and accurate assessment to protect and enhance the physical aspects of our community, establish the most fair and equitable means to fund the reserve, create the most sound financial plan for funding the commonly owned components and easements of the community and meet the fiduciary, contractual and statutory requirements established by the Commonwealth regarding reserve funding.
On August 14th we received the 107 page preliminary draft from Miller Dodson, which was posted with the 2017 study for comparison on our community website for all residents to review. A special Zoom HOA Board meeting was held with the Miller Dodson Senior Reserve Analyst, Bruce Bennett, who I personally walked the entire community with during his site survey, and resident open mic participation with questions, suggestions or concerns was encouraged.
Unfortunately, no residents took the opportunity to ask questions, suggest ideas or initiate conversation with the actuary. Miller Dodson is now in the process of finalizing the study based on the several insightful and probing questions and concerns presented by members of the Board and our “committee” of residents.
As it pertains to property values – the news is phenomenal!!! According to local realtors, the aesthetic appeal created by the upgrades of our amenities and maintenance standards have had a major impact on the dramatic increase in property values of Raspberry Falls homes. So far this year at least one home has been sold in each of our Hamlets (18 sales overall) and each transaction has commanded a sales price at the highest record figure ever for that property.
Certainly a plus for most people’s biggest single personal financial investment!!!!
As you know, part of the unique and special appeal of our community is our golf course. While it is not an HOA owned property, it provides us with an award winning and nationally recognized amenity that is a tremendous asset and a major attraction to Raspberry Falls. As a club member, I can honestly say that the condition of the fairways and greens (like our neighborhood) has never been better at this time of year!! In addition to the capital improvements that were made last spring, 9 more holes are being upgraded to create an even more challenging track for the players and more pleasing aesthetic for the many residents whose properties boarder the course.
We have an outstanding relationship with General Manager/Director of Golf, Willie Lutz, and his entire staff. They have offered discount memberships to all Raspberry Falls residents. The Jr. Golf Camp was a great experience for our neighborhood children this summer and the adult members have praised the quality of the teaching pros. For your convenience, the Board facilitates the posting of their many activities, tournaments, and announcements on our official website.
Regarding our website – one of the Board’s biggest tasks during this COVID challenged year was to update, streamline and create a more efficient communication and business tool for all residents and the HOA. The Board of Directors facilitated a transition to a new and improved website to address those needs. After weeks of planning and construction by a new provider (Frontsteps), the Cardinal Management IT Department, and a “committee” of several residents with IT expertise, a new and informative website was launched.
Our new website (raspberryfalls.org) has proven to be a tremendous asset and has been applauded by residents for its content and usefulness. It actually serves as the ONLY authorized communication vehicle for “official” HOA business. If you have not already signed up and
logged in to the “residents portal,” I would urge you to do so to take advantage of a resource created for all official HOA information, announcements and business.
This spring, after a long and detailed process, the Board accepted the bid of respected area contractor Kris Orendorff of Creative Works and renowned designer Janelle Marshal to remodel and renovate our pool house. It had been neglected since its initial 2004 construction, was in disrepair, rift with mold, and had insufficient pluming and ventilation. The Creative Works team turned what was an unattractive liability into a beautiful, functional and upscale venue.
New furniture provided by South Beach, Inc. adorned the pool deck to complete the project and compliment the overall quality of our swimming pool complex. In the planning stages, a “committee” of residents was solicited for their input and all residents were invited to participate in a Zoom meeting with the 3 vendors who bid the project. Several additional residents who expressed interest in the project were asked to attend a meeting with the contractor and designer to provide input on the selection of materials, colors, and accessories before construction began.
After completion, we provided residents the opportunity to take home the old furniture and all unclaimed pieces were donated to our local charitable organization, Habitat For Humanity, as a service for our community.
The pool complex was extremely busy this summer with swimmers of all ages. Feedback from residents was overwhelmingly positive, complimentary and appreciative of the first class amenity provided for their families to enjoy. As an additional plus for the community, we were able to have our pool Management Company (Continental Pools) hire, train and certify 6 Raspberry Falls teenagers as lifeguards. It was a great summer job opportunity that the Board was able to provide for our young residents!!
The pool is presently covered and undergoing a total winterization treatment. John Adams had Verizon rewire the entire venue with fios cable to resolve the issue with land line phones that resulted in safety mandated county pool closures this summer. We’re ahead of the game!!
Several months ago our tennis courts were in total disrepair. Unsightly, unplayable, a safety hazard and a potential liability issue. There were 350 linear feet of cracks in the surface (some as wide as 2 inches). After extensive research, counsel from area professionals, input from our “committee” of residents with playing experience and expertise, the Board held a special Zoom meeting for all residents with the contractors submitting the final 3 bids for the project. It was voted unanimously to hire nationally recognized and award winning Bishop’s Tennis, Inc. to resurface our venue. The courts are now USTA compliant, the highest quality playing surface for our recreational players (pro cushion) and aesthetically pleasing. The drainage, playability and consistency have been applauded by our avid tennis community and it is now a first class place for tennis players of all ages and abilities to enjoy.
Bishop’s Tennis is now finishing up with some minor cosmetic work on the courts (a few racquet marks) and will be adding two more benches and shade awnings sometime this month, as requested by our tennis community.
Blake Landscaping, under the direction of Patrick Frye, continues to provide our community with exceptional service. Scheduled work has been reliable and unexpected requests have been attended to immediately. The entire community has benefitted from their expertise, pride in work and attention to detail. Each Hamlet entrance and our collective common grounds have never been so well maintained. Blake’s crews have finished the general fall evaluation and maintenance program – aeration and over seeding of the common areas, flower rotation at the front entrance, seasonal trimming and special requests from residents.
The most prominent landscaping concern we are dealing with at the moment is the condition of our trees. Upon the arborist’s examination of the dead, deceased and rapidly decaying trees throughout the neighborhood, it was determined that 25 trees had to be removed in order to enhance the overall aesthetic appearance of the community, address safety concerns and curb the spread of disease. That work has been completed and the condition of our trees will be closely monitored throughout the year.
One particular growing area of tree concern, however, is the conifers surrounding the community pool and the tennis courts. All of those mature trees have been damaged by the local deer population. The conifers are now being treated with deer retardant spray and granular applications. Patrick is in consultation with other experts on what may be a more feasible long term solution. The treatments, so far, seem to have mitigated the problem.
There are many other issues the Board has managed during this COVID year, including storm clean up, garbage collection questions, snow removal issues, monitoring of the potential route 15 expansion impact on our neighborhood, safety and liability issues, social requests, budget and financial considerations, fiduciary responsibilities, homeowner compliance with our governing documents design and maintenance standards established by the developer and previous HOA administrations just to name a few. While we still have a lot of work to do, we are certainly headed in the right direction.
In the short 8 months of my Presidential term, our Board has worked very hard together with our residents, management team and vendors to make many positive improvements and contributions to our great community. Last January, after the election, I sent out a notice to the entire community detailing a number of critical issues our Board would be addressing. In a tribute to the cooperation and collaborative efforts of everyone involved, I am very proud and happy to say that every one of those concerns were acted upon successfully.
In conclusion, I’d like to offer a most sincere and heartfelt thank you to those residents who have contributed in making a positive contribution to our community and have helped improve and maintain the high standard of excellence we have come to expect in Raspberry Falls. Enjoy the beautiful autumn colors and the aesthetic beauty of this wonderful neighborhood we call home!!!!
Al Saunders, President
Raspberry Falls Homeowners Association