Although Timberwood Park residents recently approved a new $1.5 million clubhouse, tensions still linger for some who have serious concerns about spending by their homeowners association.
Critics contend the board for the Timberwood Park Owners Association doesn’t operate with enough transparency and oversight.
“What I want is a fair, open process with accountability of where our money is going,” said Cindy Griffin, a longtime Timberwood Park resident who previously served as homeowner president from 2006-2010. “It’s our money that is at stake.”
At issue is the process by which the Timberwood Park community will see construction of a new clubhouse, suitable for community events.
Greg Matula, TPOA president, didn’t respond to a request for comment. Spectrum Association Management, which manages the Timberwood Park group, also did not reply to an inquiry.
On Aug. 14, the board announced the results of a “yes” or “no” vote held on the clubhouse. According to officials, of 1,197 ballots cast, 789 favored the project, 408 against.
The association collects assessments of $217 annually from about 2,600 members, according to figures.
“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to vote on the proposed clubhouse. We have begun the next steps of working with our architect and general contractor to develop schedules, have construction drawings and documents produced, obtain construction permits, apply financing, etc.,” Matula wrote in TPOA’s September newsletter.
In 2016, a new clubhouse was originally supposed to cost $750,000 or so, but now estimates double the figure. The current board has said homeowners’ fees won’t increase as a result, but adds it can’t speak for future administrations.
Jim Burdine, a 40-year Timberwood Park resident, is concerned. Exercising his property-owner rights, Burdine performed three separate audits of the association’s financials the past two years.
“The board announced that the clubhouse will cost $1.5 million, but the numbers they put together just don’t add up,” Burdine said.
Griffin said the way the vote was conducted raises questions.
“The board sent out an email to residents (in August) saying, basically, we don’t have to let you vote,” Griffin said. “That one really ruffled my feathers. As a former board president, we should always appreciate the community and their concerns.”
In the August correspondence to residents, the board stated, “According to the TPOA bylaws, a vote isn’t even required: Why did it go to a vote? While the board could have proceeded on the project without a vote, based on the size, scope and cost of this project, the board felt that giving the community the opportunity to vote was the right thing to do.”
The voting started in mid-August. Residents could cast ballots online, in person at the clubhouse or at the offices of Spectrum Association Management.
Griffin said the process stopped at one point, with the board sending out a communiqué referencing an error in one of the financial figures. The erroneous amount was corrected and voting resumed.
Timberwood Park is a custom-home development north of San Antonio spanning 2,500 acres. The subdivision lies just north of Stone Oak, with U.S. 281 and Blanco Road serving as its east and west boundaries. Located near Bulverde, it’s in the Comal Independent School District.
Besides the perks of Hill Country living, Timberwood Park boasts amenities such as a private 30-acre park, 7-acre fishing lake, swimming pool, six-hole golf course, playground and the clubhouse with an exercise facility, pavilion and walking trails.
The old clubhouse was evaluated by the board and deemed unsalvageable “based on the building’s aging and outdated infrastructure, and the community’s desire for much more space,” Matula said in the association’s August newsletter.
“It was determined that a renovation would be a much less cost-effective option as it would result in a much higher cost per square foot. So the decision was made to pursue new construction versus renovation,” Matula wrote.
Burdine feels other avenues weren’t adequately explored. He’s not opposed to a new structure but, like Griffin, has reservations about the board’s tactics.
“Normally, when you start a project like this, the options are remodeling or a new build,” Burdine said. “If the rebuild is close to the same price as a remodel, you go with the rebuild. In this case, now, I don’t know if a remodel was ever even really looked at.”
He added, “If they explored it, they didn’t share that information with us. What our community can’t relate to is not having that information.”
In May 2017, TPOA hired Alvin Peters and Associates for the architectural design of the new clubhouse. This August, Matula announced, “we unfortunately had to part ways with our original architect” and replaced them with Slay Architecture.
The board has already spent $30,000 on architectural designs.
Other residents have posted on social media regarding the future clubhouse.
One noted on Facebook he “can’t wait for the improvements.”
Another said she hopes the clubhouse design gets enhanced.
A third resident asked whether the board would consider “a tiered structure that incorporates an element of fairness and fair-share payment into its dues structure?”
“Many of us were disappointed that results from the recent vote to construct a new clubhouse were based on less than 50 percent of homeowners,” she commented on the Timberwood Park Facebook page. “A two-tiered dues structure would give all residents the best of both worlds. Those who use the park and clubhouse would pay for it and those who do not would just pay sufficient dues for upkeep on the rest of the development.”
Burdine, the first association president in the 1980s, said he relocated to the subdivision to escape the city and homeowners organizations.
“I moved to Timberwood Park in the 1970s. Timberwood at that time was just a group of people who wanted to live in a country setting with a little bit of land and be left alone,” Burdine noted.