Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Celebration Residential Owners Association Annual Meeting

I just returned home from the Celebration Residental Owners Association (CROA) Annual Meeting, a yearly shindig held after the election. Despite what many people think, Celebration is not truly a "town." We're really just a large development, governed (and I use the term loosely) by a homeowners' board, in addition to an alphabet soup of other agencies.

Below is a summary of the meeting, written news story style (I used to be a stringer for a daily paper many years ago, and old habits die hard). I decided to post it here rather than on the community intranet so people who don't have access can read it. I know that many of my blog readers are considering moving to Celebration or are in the process of building a new home, so it will give an interesting glimpse into our current top of mind issues:

The Celebration Residential Owners Board held its annual meeting on September 19 in the Celebration High School theater.

The meeting featured a presentation by Sheriff Bob Hansell, a review of the past year, committee reports, and questions from residents.

In Hansell's report, he noted that the budget process went "real well," with an increase of 12.1% approved for the next fiscal year. Hansell said that he will be fulfilling his promise of a 24/7 deputy for Celebration, beginning in January or February.

Hansell also said that, due to the high growth in the Poinciana to Four Corners area, a full-service West Side Command Center will be established. However, although there is a possibility that it could be located in Celebration, he said that the site has not been selected yet.

Hansell reported that non-violent crime in Celebration decreased by 24.13%. He noted that much of the credit goes to the residents who watch out for their neighbors.

The sheriff mentioned several areas of current focus, such as the Jessica Lunsford Act, which is designed to protect youngsters from sex offenders. "We have 244 offenders in this county," he said. "Know who your neighbors are; that's the best defense." He also said that he is focusing on eliminating meth labs and monitoring gang activity.

Hansell said that he would like to step up enforcement of traffic laws. He explained that a lack of manpower has made this difficult in the past. He also said that while the Florida Highway Patrol currently takes traffic accident reports, often resulting in a wait of several hours, the Osceola County officers will soon be able to handle reports when no injuries or fatalities are involved.

CROA President Lee Moore gave a report that included an update on the purchase of the 851 Building. He noted that a bid from AmSouth Bank has been approved for the purchase of the building. He said that AmSouth's terms were very attractive and that closing is scheduled for mid-October.

Reports were delivered by several committees. The Architectural Review Committee reported that it had processed 420 applications in the past year, and that applications have been averaging 35 per month. The Covenants Committee reported that there were 1432 infractions in the past year, up from 772 a year earlier. The Safety Task Force presented its recommendation that the budget for off-duty deputy coverage be kept the same as the previous year and that traffic enforcement be stepped up.

The new Special Events Committee was highlighted, and the Recreational Committee presented a photo show of several events that have gone on over the past year, from soccer to Friday Night Out to aquatic programs. They noted that their accomplishments have included lighting additional tennis courts and proposing a new skate park. The Emergency Management Committee and the Communications Committee were also discussed.

Questions from Celebration residents capped the evening. One popular topic of discussion, brought up by several participants, was dissatisfaction with the current state of technology in town. Specific areas addressed included internet access and cable television.

Residents also expressed concern about the proposed Celebration Boulevard connector road. Matt Kelly of The Celebration Company said that traffic dictates whether the developer must build the road and that currently he does not believe that the traffic level justifies it. In response to a resident query, he denied that there are any current plans to develop the land as residential. He said that any attempt to do so would have to be approved by the county.

The low voter turnout for the CROA election was also discussed; just over 600 residents cast their votes in the current election. One resident remarked that the large number of non-owner occupied homes might be at least partially responsible for the lower turnout.

It was affirmed that the annual Farmers Market will return to Celebration in October. Due to the construction on the former downtown parking lots, it will be held at the 851 Building.

It was also affirmed that parking concerns have made the county reluctant to locate a library in the current site of Celebration Town Hall.

Other concerns raised by residents included the large crowds of out-of-town children on Halloween who trick or treat in Central Village, poor upkeep of common areas, roads in bad condition due to contruction traffic, and the status of a proposed dog park.

The newly elected board members will be installed in a later organizational meeting.

Learn more about Celebration on my website: www.celebrationinfo.com

No comments: