Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Entrance Treatment Options Shown at Open House

The Open House on Sunday, March 16, was a really neat event for Kings Forest. The purpose was exciting: to give residents a chance to learn about and give input on preliminary sketches for updating the entrances. We had great attendance by residents really interested in seeing what was proposed. Revitalization Committee and board members were on hand to answer questions.

For those unable to attend, we’ll give you an overview here of what was presented. But before we get into details, we want to assure you that there’s much to be done to refine the numbers with landscape companies and explore financial options. Residents will be given opportunities to vote on the plan before a shovel touches the ground.

If you want to see the preliminary sketches, respond to kings_forest_woodnote@yahoo.com and we’ll email them to you.

Here’s the gist:

- We’ve talked to a half dozen landscape companies and gathered ballpark estimates for hardscape (brick monuments), softscape (plants) and lighting options.
- There are four main entrances with hardscape: Woodland Hills, Kings Forest Drive, Woods Estate and Valley Manor.
- There are two secondary entrances with wooden signs: Shady Run and Cedar Knolls (back by the Montessori School).
- Residents are favoring
1) Updating the current hardscape by adding cast stone elements to the existing monuments. Totally resurfacing the monuments is too expensive.
2) Updated softscape as well, but the exact plants and arrangement of same will be selected in coming months.
3) Putting electricity at the major entrances to light the monuments.
4) Installing pillars (in place of the wooden signs) at the secondary entrances.

What’s the estimated impact per family of doing all the above? Approximately $450., based on these preliminary estimates. Most important, this is a one-time, not recurring cost.

As far as time is concerned, landscape designers estimate completion of the four major entrances would require 3-4 months.

We’re also investigating alternatives for how to pay for this. Of course, every option must be discussed in greater detail and all implications examined, but we can tell you what’s being explored:

- The board has set aside $10,000 in the 2008 budget for this project, which can be repeated in coming years.
- If we change the way we operate the pool, we can recapture up to $20,000 a year by reducing hours and going to key access.
- A number of residents have pledged voluntary donations just to see this improvement happen.
- We can increase the assessment for 1, 2 or 3 years, spreading out the $450 over time, and then reduce the assessment after the improvements are paid off.

So far, residents seem to favor getting the project done in the shortest time, so the neighborhood doesn’t appear disconnected or in a perpetual state of reconstruction, and costs remain constant.

What’s the next step?

- We now have an initial “read” on what residents prefer, so we’ll drill down on the numbers for hardscape, softscape and lighting. Each entrance is differently sized, so costs will vary.

- We will have to decide which financing options to pursue and identify a tentative timeline. We'll also have to look at the impact on ongoing maintenance costs.

- When we have our “package” together, we must revisit with residents on the options and ask them to vote their preferences.