SBPOA discusses combining efforts, resources with the Town

The South Bethany Property Owners Association (SBPOA) met last week to discuss the possible need to disband, due to the lack of volunteers to serve on the group’s executive committee.

“I do want folks to understand what would happen if we do not have officers. This is the second time we’ve come close to having to close the doors of the SBPOA,” wrote SBPOA President Linda Lewis, in a letter to members.

According to its Web site, the SBPOA “is a volunteer organization of property owners committed to improving the quality of life in South Bethany.

“We have an elected board, adopt an annual budget plan, collect modest annual dues, hold general membership meetings, conduct community events and seek input from our community as to ways we can improve the quality of life in South Bethany. We work closely with the Town of South Bethany, but do not duplicate their responsibilities, goals and objectives.”

Lewis wrote that the potential disbursement would, in her opinion, be good, as members would no longer have to pay for things such as bank fees, accountant fees and insurance for the group.

“[The bad news is] the SBPOA has been in existence a long time, and a tradition would be broken. There would be a lot of legal required work to close the doors, and someone in the community would have to step up.”

A letter from South Bethany mayor, and former SBPOA president, Kathy Jankowski was also read during the meeting, in which Jankowski asked the association to consider combining its work with that of the Town.

“I have been in positions to observe the needs and wants of our community. It is difficult to meet all of those needs with our limited number of volunteers who only have so much time to give to our community,” she wrote. “I wonder if it isn’t time to consider the synergy of combining the activities of our two organizations.”

Jankowski said the SBPOA’s Neighborhood Watch program could be put under the guidance of Police Chief Joe Deloach, with the help of a volunteer coordinator.

She added that the annual SBPOA Bull Roast could be planned by the Town’s Communications & Public Relations Committee, and that they could combine the association’s mailing list with the Town’s.

“I think it would be a great improvement if we only had one email list to maintain,” she said. “Just food for thought.”

One resident at last Saturday’s meeting questioned disbanding the SBPOA, saying he believed the association was originally created to voice the opinion of the people when they had issues with the Town.

“It was the first group that functioned as an advocate for the town of South Bethany,” said SBPOA Secretary Sandi Roberts.

“I’ve heard that the Property Owner Association’s was sort of a watchdog over the town council, so that it wasn’t just these seven people dictating for the entire town,” said Councilwoman Pat Voveris, “that there was a group that could come and discuss and object. If you’re talking about disbanding, you’re talking about putting it all back on the town council.”

Roberts said that she has heard people say they think the association is redundant.

“I think the point that Kathy is making is an interesting one. I believe there are people who say that the activities and services could be combined with the Town. I think it’s worth considering.”

“One person can speak their mind, but when you have a group, it speaks much louder… in my opinion,” said SBPOA member Ed Nazarian.

As to combining the group’s mailing lists with the town directory, SBPOA Vice President Christine Keefe said that she recalled there being some legal issues that required the two organizations to keep their information separate.

Member Joe Conway requested that the executive committee explore the legal ramifications to both parties for sharing information, related to the mayor’s recommendation.

Member Quentin Wash recommended that, on the next SBPOA update to the membership form, they add a box for members to check to give permission to the association to share their information with the Town.

While the lack of potential executive committee members had raised the issue of disbanding the group, last Saturday’s meeting did offer some potential relief to that situation. Phil and Daphne Galiano, who were not in attendance at the meeting, have volunteered to serve as officers for the SBPOA. During the meeting, Diana Cowell also volunteered to serve as a vice president. But that didn’t end discussion of the group’s future and whether it has one.

“I don’t think the issues are going to go away in the long run,” said Conway. “I would be reluctant to say that, now we have a president, we don’t have an issue. I think that issue is still alive; it’s not going to go away. Maybe the organization needs to look at some strategic alternatives to the services that it provides to the community in the long run.”

The association agreed to formally respond to the mayor’s letter, thanking her for her input and stating they will be considering her recommendations.