August 1, 2019
Members of the Board of Directors and General Manager
Our family has owned a home in TD for almost 15 years - first on Chalet and now on Landeau. The July 27 Board meeting was the first one I attended. I was encouraged to attend by a number of fellow residents that shared my disappointment with the condition of the golf course.
Though I had heard that last years Board was not unified and dysfunctional, I naively dismissed those reports. The comments made by Steve Mahoney in the Member Comments portion of the meeting caused me to reconsider my views. As the meeting progressed, it appeared to me that this Board may be no better. Unfortunately, I had to leave the meeting early - ~11:30AM - due to previous commitment. Nevertheless, I heard enough to motivate me to write this email.
I was disheartened with the discussion about the Event Tent. The Event Tent issue is noise. In my view, the solution is simple - restrict the sound level to that which is permitted in the neighborhoods and enforce it. The enforcement may require more diligent monitoring by staff but it preserves an amenity / facility that should be in TD's play book.
The Board discussion and member comments made one reflect on the fact that when the Lodge was built there was no foresight in its planning. An event space should have been included in the plans and built out at that time. An event space is needed if you intend to provide the full range of F&B services to the membership. The Board should be looking for a permanent solution.
The decision to table the matter for a "keep it or close it" vote at the August meeting and restrict the booking's essentially to members only excluding NFP's is misguided, in my opinion. First, keep the Event Tent. Second, allow NFP's and the public to book it. TD strives to be a contributing member of the Truckee community. As such, we should support NFP's. We should provide access to the public both as a service to the community and as a form of advertisement / promotion of TD. Additionally, the Event Tent generates significant F&B revenue.
The exchange between the Board Treasurer and TD's CFO concerning Food & Beverage in general and concerning the Event Tent was disturbing. It demonstrated a poor relationship between the Board and TD leadership, in my opinion. As the meeting moved forward my view did not change. My impression was that the Board was in all cases talking down to TD leadership at all levels.
I was also left with the impression by the Board Treasurer that he wants all the amenities to generate a profit. If not, why invest in them. Prior to this year the Board maintained the annual assessment flat. As of now, members pay approximately $2,000 for assessment and $300 for the recreation fee. These fees are very reasonable. Based on the discussions I heard on finances while at the meeting, it is my view that the Board has underinvested in maintaining TD'd amenities over the previous 3 years if not longer. Our expenses rise with inflation and our fees should have followed suit at a minimum.
My comment on under investing in maintaining TD's amenities is demonstrated by the current condition of the golf course. I played the course on Sunday July 7 and late Saturday July 27. On the 7th we had 5 temporary greens and on the 27th 2 temporary greens. Neither day were the temporary greens marked in any fashion. The greens that were "open" on both occasions were terrible -- patchy, bumpy, the plugs were still visible. In short they were essentially unplayable. The fairways were no better. The course was one of if not the best in the area 15 years ago. Today it is the worst.
In the past I played TD's course almost exclusively. This year I purchased a 10-pack expecting much more than TD is delivering. After playing the course on July 7 I requested a refund.
In the course of this month I have had occasion to play at Coyote Moon and Gray's Crossing. Though both courses showed some residual effects from the winter they were in good shape and very playable. On visiting each course I inquired as to whether or not they had much play from TD members. The answer from both was - yes quite a bit. Both commented that many TD members have purchased either season passes or 10-packs.
I am a member of and on the board of a private golf club in the SF Bay Area. I am well aware of the challenges of maintaining and running a golf course as well as the F&B operation. I have seen the effect of underinvestment in the golf course by prior boards requiring 2 to 3 years to correct the problems. I have also seen the effect of an inordinate focus on F&B operations chasing profitability. It is the rare club in this country that makes money on its F&B operation. F&B is an amenity that the members subsidize.
My suggestions which I hope the Board will take seriously are:
1) Respect the TD management team. They work hard on our behalf and deserve our support and appreciation for all they do. If you have an issue work it out prior to a Board meeting.
2) Golf Course -- retain a consulting golf course architect to assist management in finalizing/ refining its plans for the course and keep him on an annual retainer to assure that we stay on plan to deliver a quality course to the members. If you fail to engage a golf course architect the Board will be wasting members money. The work on the course should be up to USGA standards.
3) F&B -- recognize this is an amenity the members want and will need to subsidize. Focus on delivering a quality product at a reasonable price.
4) Event Tent - KEEP IT but implement the controls required to monitor the noise and enforce the rules. Develop plans to build a permanent event space adjacent to the Lodge.
5) Think beyond the next 12 months and recognize you are responsible for managing TD not only for today but for the next 25+ years. Decisions need to be made thinking ahead not focused on the present. Have some vision and the strength to make the vision reality.
6) TD has had over the years the best amenities of any community in the area. Until recently, one would have considered them all first class. I do not believe that is the case today. The median home price in TD is $750,000 with many homes in excess of $1 million. People buy in TD for many reasons. The amenities we offer make our property more attractive. The amenities offered were a major reason for our decision to purchase a second home at TD. If we fail to maintain our amenities in a first class manner we are devaluing TD members property as well as depriving them of the quality experience they are seeking.
I sincerely hope you take my comments to heart as I want TD to thrive now and for the years to come. I fear that if this Board does not embrace and work cooperatively among themselves and with TD staff we will have more problems in the near future.