November 29, 2014

Found Kitten

Is anyone missing a kitten?  A neighbor on Valjean Blvd found a black kitten with a little white patch on its chest. It looks about 6 months old and was really hungry and cold.

Please contact Steph at 612-414-1871 with any info. Kitten likes to be pet, but isn't real fond of being held by strangers.

November 19, 2014

Thanks for giving... this Saturday morning.

Your home will be visited this coming Saturday morning, November 22, by Hugo's Boys Scout Troop 151, Cub Scout Pack 151 or one of Hugo's many Girl Scout Troops to collect non-perishable food and personal item donations.

You'll likely see familiar faces as there are many Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts (and volunteer leaders) living right here in our Victor Gardens neighborhood.

If you're not planning to be home Saturday morning, you can leave donations on your front porch for the Scouts to collect. You can also leave any donations from now through Saturday on Viker's front porch at 4545 Garden Way N.

Over the last few years "Scouting for Food / Feeding the Need" has become increasingly successful. They've collected thousands of pounds of donations that are distributed to Hugo families. The Scouts hope that you'll support their efforts again as you have so generously in the past.

Thanks again and see you Saturday morning!

Hugo's Good Neighbors Food shelf currently needs:

From past experience, we know that a few of you shop specifically for this annual event. (That's amazing!) We appreciate any donations, but there are a few categories the Hugo Good Neighbors Food Shelf needs now: Diapers, baby care items, personal care items, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo/conditioner, paper towels, toilet paper, bar soap, and laundry detergent.

Nonperishable items are always welcome including hearty soups, canned pasta, canned meat (tuna and chicken), canned fruit, mac & cheese, spaghetti sauce, pasta, coffee, pancake mix and syrup, beef stew, boxed potatoes, flour, sugar and baking supplies.

November 18, 2014

Flips Open Gym

Are the kids aching to get out to run and play?  Bring them to our neighborhood open gym at Flips Gymnastics in WBL on Sunday, Dec 28th from 4-5:30.  This is a special open gym just for Victor Gardens residents!  Kids can play on the equipment and a bounce house will be available.  For kids 1 - 12 years (kids under 3 must have a parent with them on the floor).  Parents are not allowed on the equipment.  Cost is $8/ child.  First 25 kids to RSVP will get in free!

Waiver needed if you have never been there.  You can find it under "events" at or fill it out upon arrival.

RSVP needed no later than Wed, Dec 17th.  RSVP to Lisa at 651-353-2619 (call or text) or  Payment due upon arrival (cash or checks to Lisa Houchins - I will write one check for the group).  Remember the first 25 kids to RSVP will get in free!

November 17, 2014

Adults Holiday Gathering

Haven't seen your neighbors since the snow flew?  Join us at Blue Heron on Sat, Dec 6th from 7:30- 9:30.  Get out of the house and enjoy some free appetizers. 

October 17, 2014

Sprinkler Winterization Schedule for Oct 18 and 19

Below is the tentative time-line sent from Shawn Herman (Classic Landscape).  You should see your address listed below if you contacted him about performing your sprinkler winterization.  In order to keep the day on schedule please make sure the irrigation water supply (located in the house) is turned off and make sure that Shawn has access to your control panel (likely in the garage).  Cash or check payment is due tomorrow.  If you have any questions or problems please contact Shawn directly at 763-780-7231 or

Victor Gardens Winterizations 2014  - Saturday, Oct 18
8:00 AM - Poets Green
14382 Poets Green
14348 Poets Green
14336 Poets Green

9:00 AM – 10:30AM - Garden Way South to Jardin
14322 Garden way
14262 Garden Way
14252 Garden Way
14246 Garden Way
14212 Garden Way

10:30 – 12:30 - Jardin
14160 Jardin
14152 Jardin
14148 Jardin
14136 Jardin
14143 Jardin
14157 Jardin

12:30 – 1:30 - Arbre
14241 Arbre
14251 Arbre Lane
4344 Arbre Lane
4376 Arbre Ln

1:30 – 2:30 -Garden Way North from Arbre to Victor Hugo Blvd.
14303 Garden Way
14341 Garden Way
14351 Garden Way

2:30 – 5:30 - Cosette Way
14326 Cossette Way
14318 Cosette Way N
14292 Cossette Way
4503 Cossette Way
4489 Cosette Lane
4477 Cossette Way
4429 Cossette Way
4545 Garden Way

5:30 – 7:00 - Val Jean
4540 Val Jean
4653 Val Jean
4662 Val Jean
4685 Val Jean

Sunday Oct. 19th - 1:00 PM – 3:30 Everton / Provence Way
14415 Everton Ave N
14445 Everton
4704 Provence Way
4677 Provence Way
4636 Provence Way
4672 Provence Way
14444 Everton Ave N

October 8, 2014

Eternity Homes signs

On some lots within Victor Gardens Single Family Village, new Eternity Homes signs have been posted.  Homes proposed for those lots will go through the Victor Gardens Community Association (Master Association) Architectural Review Committee's process.  That process includes initial review by the ARC's new Liaison, Teresa St. Amant, and a full review by the ARC's members.  As of today, the ARC has not received info, requests or applications from Eternity Homes.

To learn more about building a new home in Victor Gardens please visit our ARC page.  It contains the criteria for which home proposals are judged, details about the review process, along with the required application forms. 

September 26, 2014

Potluck Sat, Sep 27th at Valjean Park?

Due to the lack of RSVP's and a grill master there will be no official potluck tonight.  Hope to see some people out enjoying the beautiful weather.

Guys Golf Night

Neighborhood guys golf night will be held on Thursday, Oct 2 at Tanner Brook (north on Hwy 61 near Forest Lake).  Tee-times will begin at 4:30.  Please call or text Steve at 651-262-7813 for more info or to RSVP.

September 22, 2014

Lawn Care - $50 Sprinkler Winterization - Sat. Oct. 18

Shawn Herman, of Classic Lawnscape Inc., is again offering discounted services for Victor Gardens residents. Shawn offers a VG resident discount to perform seasonal blowing out and shut-down of individual sprinkler systems. Shawn's offered this service for the last few years.

His price for blowing-out sprinklers is again $50.00 per home, payable on that day. He plans on performing the work on Saturday, October 18 and possibly Sunday, October 19.

Shawn wrote me last week about this, 

"I know that as usual, this is MEA weekend and does not work for everyone.  Separate appointments are available but the Saturday special will not be valid for those that choose this type of service.

The route would also be the same starting at Poets Green at 8:00 AM and proceeding south along Garden Way to Jardin.  Then up along Arbre to Garden Way and around the corner to Cossette Way, Victor Hugo Blvd., Garden Way, and Cossette Lane.
Then down Val Jean to Everton and finally around Provence Way.

As far as estimated timing for the three areas,  In the past the Garden Way – Arbre area was 8:00 til about noon.  Cossette – Garden Way area was noon til about 4:00 pm with Everton  - Provence Way area after 4:00pm.  Of course this will totally depend on the number of people interested. "

If you'd like to sign-up for this service, please contact Shawn Herman directly at (612) 366-6088 or

September 11, 2014

Movie Night - Friday

Rio 2 will be shown at Valjean Park at dark (around 8:00) on Friday, Sept 12.  Snacks (including hot chocolate!) provided.  Bring your blankets, lawnchairs, and coats to enjoy an outdoor movie!

Tour de Hugo - Saturday!

It’s not too late to come out and “Bike the Beauty” this Saturday September 13th, at the 4th Annual Tour de Hugo community bike ride.  There is a 6 mile, 20 mile, 32 mile and a 48 mile route, perfect for any level of biker.  You can still register to ride at City Hall or the morning of the event.  Cost is $25 per adult and $20 for kids 12 and under.  Or sign up as a team (5 or more people) and cost is $20 per adult rider, $15 for kids.  The first 200 riders get a bike bag full of great items from our sponsors, plus a Tour de Hugo T-shirt, bike bottle and commemorative bandana.  Plus, lunch from Festival Foods is included after the ride.  It’s a great event that supports the Hugo Park and Recreation Department.  Registration starts at 7:00am the Hugo City Hall, with the first ride leaving at 8:00am  We look forward to seeing you this Saturday to “Bike the Beauty.” 

August 20, 2014

Root Beer Floats

Root Beer Floats have been rescheduled for Monday, Aug 25 from 6:30-7:30 at the pool house.  Thanks to Janelle for volunteering.  Hope we have a great turn-out!  Please remember to enjoy your treats outside of the pool area.

August 19, 2014

Vandals topple Jardin Fountain

Last weekend the Jardin Fountain was knocked over by vandals.  A report has been filed with the Washington County Sheriff.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Jennifer Campbell, the Master Association's Community Manager,

Lawn Care - $40 Core Aeration Service

Jeff Ambrose has offered his lawn aeration services to Victor Gardens residents for a number of years and does a very professional job. He's offering a Victor Gardens discount rate of $40/per lawn (slightly higher for larger lawns). That's less than what most others charge for this service. For do-it-yourselfers, this is a pretty good deal considering the cost of renting the machine, time and effort involved, plus the cost of gas. Jeff did a great job on our lawn over the last seven years, and I would recommend his service.
Core Aeration Promotes Healthy Grass

Call Jeff Ambrose directly at (651) 274-1535. He's currently coordinating a schedule of Victor Gardens appointments.

If you're unfamiliar with core aeration, the U of M Extension Service describes it pretty well, "Core aeration is the best method of dealing with the problem of compaction in the lawn. Aeration promotes moisture and air penetration into soils, resulting in deeper and healthier root systems on the grass plants. ... The best time of year to aerate the lawn is late August to early October. Aeration can be done in the spring but will lead to additional weed seeds being brought to the surface where they may germinate. In fall, weed seeds will also be brought to the surface, but they will not sprout."


August 15, 2014

Local Business Profile: Paparazzi Accessories

Karla Olson, one of our Victor Gardens neighbors would like to introduce herself and her local business.

Hi Ladies- Do you like jewelry? Don't want to spend a lot of money on it? I am a independent consultant for Paparazzi Accessories. All items are only $5.00. Necklaces (comes with matching earrings) rings, bracelets, earrings, little girls bracelets, and hair clips. You like what you see you take it home with you. If you are interested in having a party give me a holler. 
Karla 651-249-5356 or you can send me a message on Facebook.

August 5, 2014

National Night Out is tonight!

Today is National Night Out! Join us at Arbre park from 6-8.

4th Street performing at 6:15 and UMA Karate at 7:15! Bounce houses, face painters, and crazy hair stylists will be ready to go by 6:00 - for FREE! Bring your camera to capture some fun summer memories!

Change of plans for meals tonight at National Night Out. Grundhofers canceled on us this afternoon but Papa Murphy's is coming to the rescue. We will be selling pizza for $1/ slice or a meal with a slice of pizza, carrots, and a drink for $2. Free lemonade, water and cake will also be available.

Thank you so much to everyone who has already volunteered! We still have some volunteer needs. Please check the sign-up at: and select a spot that will work with your family. We would love to have all spots filled before the celebration starts!

July 29, 2014

Need volunteers for Tuesday's National Night Out

Hi Neighbors!
Wondering if anybody would be able to volunteer (or volunteer their spouses or older kids!) for a half hour (or more) of their time to help out with National Night Out next week?  Below is the link to the sign up genius.  We still have lots of slots to fill.  Thanks so much!



July 23, 2014

The Circus comes to Hugo this weekend

The Culpepper Merriweather Circus is coming to town! Tickets can be purchased in advance at Sager Liquors and Holiday. Don't miss this fun, family event!

Saturday & Sunday, July 26 & 27
showtimes 2:00pm & 4:30pm
Hugo's Lions Park

Click here for more information.

Trying out a new email

Victor Gardens News email is looking a little different.  I'm testing a new, more efficient way of getting the word out to residents.  More info to follow.

See you tonight for root beer floats!

July 19, 2014

Family Magic Show and Balloon Animals

Monday, July 21st at 6:30 in Arbre Park join Captain Curly for a magic show followed by balloon animal fun!  Highly recommended by the staff and kids at KinderGardens.  Fun for the whole family.

Root Beer Floats Rescheduled

Root beer float night will be held this Wed, July 23rd at the pool house from 6:30-7:30.  Thanks so much to Renee for volunteering!  Please remember to keep your food outside the pool fence.

July 16, 2014

Pool House Door

Sometime yesterday the pool house was broken into, the door damaged, and the wiring for the keyfob system ripped out.  Community Development is working to have this repaired as soon as possible but until it is repaired none of the keyfobs will work and the pool is inaccessible.  They hope to have it repaired by this weekend.  

Root Beer Floats Canceled Tonight!

Due to the vandalism at the pool house root beer float night tonight is canceled.  Supplies are inaccessible upstairs.  We will reschedule as soon as possible!  Please check the web, facebook and signs for updated information.

July 8, 2014

REMINDER: VG Master Board Meeting July 9

Victor Gardens Community Association
3”‘ Quarter 2014 Board of Directors Meeting
July 9, 2014 - 6:00pm
Victor Gardens Activity Center

 Meeting Agenda

Call to Order
Review and Approve Minutes from (4/9/14) Board Meeting (Secretary to sign)
Homeowner Forum
Consent Agenda
a) Second security check by Semper Fi
Management Financial Reports — suggest we table discussion due to large agenda
a) Balance Sheet
b) Income Statement
c) General Ledger
d) Accounts Receivable
e) Accounts Payable
Management Report
a) Work Order Report
b) Activity Center HVAC
i) AC repair bids
ii) Heating issues proposals
Additional Holiday Lighting Analysis
Poets Green Fountain
i) Attorney opinion on maintain common elements as installed by Developer
ii) Cost analysis of planter vs. fountain restoration
e) Additional Fountain on North Side — Estimated Cost Information
f) Irrigation at Grantaire Circle
i) Proposal from Birch
Spring Walk Results Discussion
Key Fob System - in 2015/16 current system as is will no longer be supported
due to current operating system being phased out
i) City of Hugo — sign and flowers
j) Victor Gardens Website
Committee Reports
a) ARC Committee
b) Long-term Planning Committee
i) Resignation of the Committee Chairs
Landscape Committee
i) Val Jean Bridge Improvements Complete
Review of Action Items & Time Frames for Completion
Next Meeting — 10.8.14
10) Adjournment

July 7, 2014

Neighborhood Social Events

Do you enjoy neighborhood events- National Night Out, movies in the park, the Easter Egg Hunt and more?  Are you will to give some extra time to make sure these events continue?  After three years Kelly and Lisa will be stepping back from the social committee at the end of the year.  We are looking for two (or more) people to take over planning National Night Out and other neighborhood events. If you have questions or are interested, please contact Kelly ( or 651-238-6660) or Lisa ( or 651-353-2619).

Upcoming Events

Root Beer/ Ice Cream Float Night

Wed, July 16th from 6:30-7:30 at the pool house
Come enjoy free ice cream treats while visiting with your neighbors.  Please remember to keep all food outside the pool area.

Volunteers needed to make this event happen.  All supplies will be provided.  Please contact Lisa at or 651-353-2619 with questions or to help.

Family Night at Arbre Park

Monday, July 21st at 6:30. 
Come enjoy a show by Captain Curley.  A great family show for all ages.  He comes highly recommended by the kids at KinderGardens.

National Night Out

Tuesday, Aug 5th at Arbre Park
Bounce Houses, dinner from Grundhoffers, face painters, dance demo, crazy hair and more!  More details to follow.

We need MANY volunteers to make this event happen.  Please contact Kelly at or 651-238-6660 with questions or to help.

June 11, 2014

Men’s Wedding Ring FOUND:

I received this yesterday….

"Hey Mark, my friend ... found a ring at our big park [Arbre Park] this afternoon. It has E.H. and M.A. engraved on the inside. She assumes it's a grandparents (male) wedding ring based on the date that's engraved inside the ring. I'm sure it's quite a loss for someone!! She asked if I could get the word out to the neighborhood, so you're my guy.  

If the person who claims it can name the date on the inside, she'll return it."

Please email to claim it.

- MV

June 10, 2014

Root Beer Float Night Canceled

Due to a lack of volunteers tonight's root beer float night has been canceled. 

Please consider volunteering for the next night; Wed, July 16th from 6:30-7:30pm. 

Contact Lisa at or 651-353-2619 with questions or to volunteer.

June 8, 2014

REMINDER: Tall Grass & Weed Ordinance

A few years ago, the City amended an existing ordinance, requiring more frequent cutting of unsold properties:


Section 1. The City Council of the City of Hugo does hereby delete Section 200-3-8 in its entirety and replace with the following language:
Noxious Weeds and Tall Grass

A. It shall be unlawful and prohibited for any owner, tenant, or occupant of land in the City to permit or maintain noxious weeds or other rank growth, as prohibited by Statutes of the State of Minnesota.

B. It shall be unlawful for any owner, tenant, or occupant of land in the City to allow or permit any growth of weeds, grass, brush, or other rank vegetation to a height greater than ten inches (10''), or any accumulation of dead weeds, grass, or brush on such land.

C. It shall be unlawful for any owner, tenant, or occupant of land in the City to allow or permit the growth of vegetation to a height greater than ten inches (10'') or noxious weeds on any land between the property lines of the parcel and the pavement edge of any public roadway.

D. Tall vegetation along driveways and public roads that may impair visibility when entering or exiting public roads is prohibited.

E. If the provisions of this section are not complied with, the Code Enforcement Officer will mail a certified written notice, return receipt requested to the owner, tenant, or occupant of the land requiring them to comply with the provisions of this section. If the owner or owner's address is unknown, the City Clerk will publish a notice in the City's official newspaper. The notices and publication shall include the property address or description of the property and description of the violation. The violation shall be abated by the owner within seven (7) days of the mailing notice or publication. If there is failure to comply with the violations outlined by the ordinance, the City will abate the nuisance and assess the cost to the owner. The owner shall pay the assessment within 30 days or the assessment will be applied to the owner's property tax statement.
Sections B & C shall not apply to:

a) Natural areas, such as but not limited to, wetlands, prairie grass or wild flower restoration, public open spaces, storm water ponds, wooded areas, rain gardens, bogs, or marshes.

b) Land used for agriculture

c) Landscaped areas as shown on an approved landscape plan.

d) All property that is zoned Rural Residential, Agricultural, and Long Term Agricultural and Future Urban Service.

e) All property that is not platted or developed. For the purpose of this section "developed" shall mean that the property has been improved with the construction of buildings, parking lots or other facilities excluding utilities or sewer or water lines.

f) Any property that is undeveloped and platted greater than 5 acres.
Section 2 Severability. In the event that a court of competent jurisdiction adjudges any part of this Ordinance to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect any other provision of this Ordinance not specifically included with that judgment.
Section 3. Effective Date. This amendment shall take effect upon its passage and publication.

ADOPTED by the City Council on August 20, 2007.
Fran Miron, Mayor
ATTEST: Mary Ann Creager, City Clerk

June 6, 2014

Movie Night cancelled

Due to expected bad weather, tonight's Movie Night in Val Jean Park has been cancelled. 

June 5, 2014

Master ARC's Next Monthly Meeting is June 11

The next meeting of the Victor Gardens Community Association's (the Master Association) Architectural Review Committee will be Wednesday, June 11.  The group will meet at VG's Neighborhood Acrivity Center at 6:30pm.  This meeting, as well as all past and future scheduled Master ARC meetings can be found on the VG News Calendar.

These monthly ARC meetings are always open for any owner to attend.  If you have questions about the ARC, it's review process or its application forms, we hope you'll be there.  Time will be set aside specifically for owner's questions at the end of the meeting.

At its June 11 meeting, the Master ARC will review new home, color, and landscaping proposals submitted with appropriate applications.  Most of the committee's work deals with new home building in VG's Single Family Village.  More info, including copies of VG's current Architectural Application, Color Application and Landscape Application are available on the Victor Gardens News website's ARC page.

Condo owners can refer to ARC-related info specific to their sub-associations.  This includes a few condo-specific applications found on the Victor Gardens News website's Condo ARC page.

VG's Single Family Village has it's own ARC, which processes requests related to already-built homes within the Single Family Village.  More info, including applications can be found on Victor Gardens News' website Single Family Village ARC page.

Note:  It's important to remember that the Master ARC deals with topics that the Master Board generally doesn't (and vice-versa).  The membership of each entity differs too.  If you have a specific Master Board related question, July 9 is the next Master Board meeting.  This meeting, as well as past Master Board meetings can also be found on the Victor Gardens News Calendar.

May 29, 2014

Summer is here!

Start summer vacation off with an outdoor movie.  Despicable Me 2 will be shown at dark on Friday, June 6th in Valjean Park.  Bring your lawn chair, blanket, and bug spray to enjoy a movie with your neighbors.  Snacks provided.

We are also continuing with our root beer float tradition!  Root beer floats and ice cream sundaes will be served at the pool house on Tuesday, June 10 from 6:30-7:30 (or when ice cream is gone).  Please remember that no food may be brought into the pool area.  Help remind your neighbors to respect the rules so we can continue to host this fun, free event!

We need your help with both events! 
- Movie night: volunteer to monitor food and help serve popcorn (keep the kids dirty hands out of the bags!). 
- Ice cream night: two volunteers (kids welcome!).  To serve ice cream and remind people to keep it out of pool area. 
- Everything you need will be there!

Please contact Lisa at or 651-353-2619 to help!!!

May 22, 2014

Pool Opens Tomorrow

Have fun.
Play nice.
Leave your beer bottles at home.
And please, don't open the door for others. 

Opening Day, Victor Gardens Pool, 1961

Victor Gardens Pool Rules
Updated 2012
  2. The swimming pool and water park are for the exclusive use of the members of Victor Gardens Community Association and their guests. The maximum number of guests per household is four.
  3. The Victor Gardens Community Association, its officers, directors and agents assume no responsibility for injuries.
  4. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older.
  5. People who cannot swim must wear lifejackets while in the pool.
  6. Diving, running, wrestling, horseplay and throwing objects are absolutely prohibited.
  7. Showers are required before entering the pool.
  8. Persons who have infections or communicable diseases must not enter the pool.
  9. Infants and toddlers who are not toilet trained must wear swim diapers.
  10. Smoking is not allowed in or around the pool area along with the Activity Center.
  11. No Food or Glass bottles are allowed in the pool area.
  12. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed in the pool area.
  13. Drunkenness is not allowed and any intoxicated individuals will be asked to leave the pool area.
  14. In order to keep the pool area pleasant for everyone, radios, tape players, CD players and other audio devices must be played only with earphones. Loudspeakers are prohibited.
  15. Pets are not allowed in the pool area.
  16. Pool hours are 6:00 am to 9:00 pm. (during pool season) Lap Swim: 6:00 am to 10:00 am, Open Swim: 10:00 am to 9:00pm
  17. All pool toys must be removed from the pool each night; toys left in the pool will damage the pool’s mechanical system. (No Inflatable flotation devices are allowed in the pool except water wings, life jackets or infant/small children flotation seats.)
  18. All access to the pool area must be through the Activity Center. The gate is to be used for emergency purposes only.
  19. Spitting, spouting water from the mouth, and blowing noses in the pool are prohibited.
  20. The Victor Gardens Community Association Board of Directors reserves the right to revoke anyone’s pool privileges for not following these pool rules.
  21. The Victor Gardens Community Association Board of Directors may amend these pool rules at any time, without notice. You can contact Community Development for the most current and up-to-date rules.
To report unauthorized pool access, dangerous situations or vandalism, contact the Washington County Sheriff.
  • Emergency: Dial 911
  • Non-Emergency: Dial (651) 439-9381
Key fob and facility access questions should be directed to VG's Community Manager, Jennifer Campbell at (763) 225-6424

May 19, 2014

Spring Walk Through

The Victor Gardens Community Association (Master) Board is looking at dates to schedule a neighborhood spring walk through of its Common Areas.  A few of the VG's Master Association's contractors will be asked to attend along with Jennifer Campbell.

If you have any specific areas to bring to the attention of our Community Manager prior to the walk through, please do so via email.  Include exact locations, photos, descriptions, etc.  

Please find Jennifer Campbell's contact info on the Contacts Page.

May 5, 2014

Improving communications and the future of this website

As many of you know, I've been posting neighborhood news on this Victor Gardens News website and it's companion Facebook page since 2007.  For those who've subscribed, I also have been sending infrequent emails to residents via email.

A recent Single Family Village Annual Meeting reinforced something that I've been thinking about for some time now.  At this point, our neighborhood may be better served by the various master and sub-associations moving to a professionally managed "official" website, email service, etc. 

In my Victor Gardens News website's early days, it was a great way for residents to know what was happening.  The developer, CPDC had long since given up communicating to us.  In that absence, I posted news that I thought would benefit our community and get the attention of City Hall.  In the years following CPDC's departure, our association's financial situation was poor.  There certainly wasn't any money or support for the professional management of an "official" Victor Gardens website.

In subsequent years, the associations have financially rebounded.  We're all in a much better position than we were before.  Now is a good time to start looking into the options of having an official Victor Gardens website and email service.  Although I've tried to keep up,  I'm simply not able to post everything that I think's important.  There aren't enough volunteers who've signed up to to help either. 
The more I think about it, the more I think that we'd be better served by paying for this service anyway.  A professional management company like Community Development Inc, has a portfolio of options that could be considered moving forward.

I've asked Holly Johnson at CDI if she could help us explore our options.  Whatever goes forward, it'll be the decision of each association's various boards.  For the Single Family Village HOA and the Master HOA, I think it may be time for a change.

- MV

April 30, 2014

Movie Night Rescheduled

Due to the cold rainy weather our spring movie night in the park has been rescheduled for Friday, June 6th.  We will show "Despicable Me 2" at dark.  Bring your blankets and lawnchairs to Valjean Park to enjoy an outdoor show. 

Volunteer needed to supervise snacks that evening.  Please let Lisa ( or 651-353-2619) know if you are able to help.

Thanks Julie and John!

For years, Julie Bixby and John Roehrich have served on Victor Gardens Single Family Village HOA's Board.  They've been crucial to our association's success.  John and Julie volunteered countless hours steering us to strong financial health and ensured that our neighborhood kept looking great.  

I've been proud to serve with them.  Next time you see Julie and John, make sure you say "thanks!".  They deserve it.

- MV

April 29, 2014

SFV Annual Meeting tonight

Tonight's Single Family Village Homeowner's Association's annual meeting will be held at 7:00 PM at Hugo Rice Lake Centre, 6900 137th St. N., Hugo MN 55038.

Meet your neighbors and learn more about what's happening in your neighborhood.
This year the Board of Directors will update homeowners on neighborhood news as it relates both to the Single Family Village and the Master Associations. We truly believe that providing Homeowners with this information during the meeting is beneficial to everyone. We will also leave ample time at the end of the meeting for new business and a Homeowner Forum. This will give homeowners an opportunity to talk about issues that are important to them. We want to hear from you and welcome this type of involvement from our community.

April 27, 2014

Keep an eye on your sump pump

With more steady rain in the forecast, it's a good idea to make sure your sump pump is working properly. 

The sump basket in your basement's floor collects water through buried pipes from saturated ground around your home's foundation.  The electric sump pump draws that water up and out of the sump pit and out of the home.

I've found a good article and a few links explaining how these systems work, how to keep them running well and backup options for when they fail:

  1. Your Sump Pump and You
  2. By Michael Salsbury
  3. © 2004 by Michael E. Salsbury
  4. If you live in a home with a basement, there is a very good chance that somewhere in your basement is a sump. In that sump, there is almost certainly a sump pump.
  5. What is a Sump? What is a Sump Pump?
  6. Around the foundation of your home and under the basement floor there are a series of pipes. These pipes channel water away from the foundation and basement walls, flowing it into a hole called the “sump”. During a heavy rain, the sump will begin to fill up with water, water that would have flooded your basement floor.
  7. If all you had was a sump, you’d still end up with a flooded basement in any kind of significant rain. The key to keeping the basement dry is the sump pump, which is a submersible water pump that sucks water out of the sump and pushes it far outside the home away from the foundation where it can’t harm your home or belongings. As long as you have a working sump pump, you’ll probably never see a flood in your basement.
  8. Why Do I Care about Sump Pumps?
  9. If your sump gets too “junked up” or fills with water, it won’t be long before it stops doing its job of getting water away from the basement and foundation. Soon, the sump will overflow and your basement will become flooded with water. Anything unlucky enough to be on the floor of your basement will at the very least get wet, and in the worst case be damaged or destroyed.
  10. My home had a finished, carpeted basement. When our sump pump failed during a particularly nasty storm, the basement floor got flooded about an inch deep. Because I was not at home when this happened, and didn’t discover it until much later, a number of valuable possessions were damaged or destroyed by the water. The carpet became “delaminated” and useless. It cost approximately $3000 to have the flood waters removed, the walls and floor dried, anti-microbial agents applied, and the humidity reduced. It cost another $1500 to have the carpet replaced. Replacing the sump pump, check valve, and having the pipes to the gutter unblocked cost another $600. I had to take 2-3 days off work to be there for the damage restoration people, the plumber, and the carpet installers. All this because of the failure of a $75-200 sump pump. Needless to say, a loss like this will open your eyes very quickly to the necessity of maintaining a sump and a sump pump.
  11. Basement Flood Insurance Coverage
  12. Our $5000+ loss was made all the worse by the fact that our insurance didn’t cover the flood. Unless you’re certain that your insurance DOES cover such a disaster, talk to your insurance agent as soon as you can. Make sure your homeowner’s policy covers the damage that a failed sump pump can cause you. Do this immediately if your basement is finished and carpeted. Trust me. We thought our policy covered this, and found out after the flood that it didn’t. This kind of expense can kill your budget and your savings in a hurry, and it’s why you get insurance in the first place.
  13. Sump Pump Life Expectancy and Maintenance
  14. The plumber who replaced my sump pump told me that generally speaking, a sump pump will last 4-5 years. It may last longer if your sump water is relatively clean and clear and/or you don’t get a lot of water. It may not last that long if the sump water is dirty or the pump has to run a lot. If your pump is more than 5 years old, you should probably go buy a new one and have it ready just in case… or just replace it now and keep the old one as an emergency spare. Some people keep a replacement on hand at all times just to be safe. Considering that new pumps cost $75-150 and are not too hard to install, that may not be a bad investment.
  15. It is a good idea to check the operation of your sump pump twice a year. An easy way to do this is to dump a few buckets of water into the sump and verify that the pump kicks on and carries the water away.
  16. Extra Protection: The Battery Backup
  17. Earlier I mentioned the need to make sure you have the necessary insurance coverage. Ideally, you’d like to make sure you never have to file a claim. There are sump pumps on the market with a battery backup. If you’re in an area where the power often goes out during a storm, this might be a good investment. You can also consider the emergency pumps they sell, which run on water pressure. To use one of these, you plug in a garden hose and turn it on full blast. The movement of the water through the pump mechanism activates the pump to remove water from your sump. There are even “backup pumps” you can install with the existing sump pump. These backups kick on if the original pump fails. While these backup and battery-powered pumps are not necessarily cheap ($250 and up is not uncommon) they are far cheaper than the expense of new carpeting and basement water cleanup. And they may keep you from having to file an insurance claim, which will help you to keep your rates low and avoid having your policy canceled.
  18. Cleaning out the Sump
  19. The plumber who installed my replacement pump told me that the bottom of a sump pit will fill with mud, gravel, and other debris over time. You need to scoop this crap out and get rid of it every so often. (Just how often will depend on your circumstances, but checking it every 6 months is a good idea.) In the best case, this build-up reduces the volume of water the sump can hold at any one time (increasing the likelihood of a flood). In a worst case, it reduces the life of the pump and can clog it up, resulting in the pump failing prematurely (and increasing the likelihood of a more serious flood). It is also a good idea for your pump to be sitting on a flat rock or brick inside the sump so that it is located above the level of the “muck” at the bottom of the sump.
  20. Don’t Forget the Check Valve
  21. The check valve, located in the line between your sump pump and the outside, (which prevents water that has been pumped out of the sump from falling back into it when the pump kicks off) should last 7-10 years at most. This is a relatively cheap part and if it was installed right initially, is probably easy to reinstall too. If yours is very old or you’re not sure how old it is, you might want to consider replacing that, too. Otherwise, your pump could end up running constantly, since whenever it stops pumping the check valve will let much of that water fall back into the pit – where it again needs to be pumped out. Your pump will last a lot longer if this valve is actually working properly. If it’s not, the pump will die that much sooner.
  22. Install an Early Warning System
  23. You can buy a simple water level alarm for $9.95 from Lowe’s. This device can be installed in the sump pit itself, and set to warn you if the water level in the pit exceeds a certain amount. You might want to buy one of these to install in your sump and on your hot water heater, to warn you if the water level in the area is getting too high.
  24. Getting the Water Away from the House
  25. All of this covers you if your sump pump or check valve has a problem, but that’s not the full story. When your pump kicks in and sends that water out of the basement, it has to go somewhere. In most residential neighborhoods, it goes up out of the basement and into the same pipe that carries water from your gutters out to the curb in front of your house. If that pipe gets blocked (with leaves, fine gravel from your roofing, etc.), the water from the sump can’t make it out to the gutters. Most likely, it’ll get pumped out the bottom of the gutter and into your yard. In the best case, this means that the water will flood your yard and maybe kill the grass. In a worse case, it’ll rot the wood of your house/deck near the awning (which it was going to do in our case). In a really worst case, it will seep back down into your basement and back into the sump, where it gets pumped back out again, and so on. This will also kill your pump because the pump will have to pump, re-pump, re-re-pump, etc., the same water out of the basement. To guard against this little problem, make a habit of periodically checking the little “exit port” in the curb in front of your house to make sure that the pump is able to get the water out to the street. If you know the pump is running and all you see is a “trickle” coming out there, you probably have a problem. If you see a decent amount of pressure flowing out, you’re probably OK. If in doubt, it can’t hurt to have a plumber come out and “snake” the pipe for you. The $100-150 you spend for that service could save you hundreds or thousands later.
  26. Another Source of Basement Flooding – The Hot Water Heater
  27. Along the same lines, my research indicates that a hot water heater will last 10-15 years typically. The “experts” say that if your hot water heater is more than 7 years old, you should be shopping for a new one now. Reason being you’re close to failure time, but not yet at “emergency” status where you could have a leak. This gives you time to price-shop and pick a good one, rather than having to settle for what you can find in an emergency. Also, you will probably be able to pick up a much more efficient one and perhaps save on your water heating bill, which can be as much as 14% of your overall utility costs. You might also want to think about putting one of those water level alarms on or near the water heater to warn you if it develops a leak.
  28. Hope this helps some of you avoid the massive expense we had to deal in 2004 and shortly after moving into a new house in 2005…

City water-powered backup sump pump: