May 11, 2016

Thoughts on the vacant space near the pool & activity center

Discussion of the vacant site next to Victor Gardens' Neighborhood Activity Center and pool continues tonight.  Unfortunately, I'm unable to attend.  

I'm sharing an email (below) that I wrote to our Victor Gardens Community Association's Board and Long Term Planning Committee.  If you'd like to listen in on the conversation or provide your opinions, the meeting starts at 6pm tonight, Victor Gardens Activity Center, 14575 Victor Hugo Blvd.

Hello Board Members,

My busy evening schedule prevents me from attending tonight’s vacant property special meeting.  I’m sharing with you some emailed resident comments that our Community Manager, Colleen Brown shared with me.  They’re interesting, and provide a variety of valid opinions.  I know you’ll hear more tonight too.  I hope tonight’s meeting will produce a consensus that the Board can act on without delay.

Ever since Victor Gardens’ original sales office was removed many years ago from the site, this property has been the source of discussion and big ideas.  Over the years, some have been rejected as unworkable or too expensive. I’ve heard proposals for community vegetable gardens, ornamental gardens, playgrounds, enlarged pools, exercise buildings, residential buildings, kiddie pools and more.  

Based upon previous board discussions and emailed comments from residents, I support either of these two ideas:
  • Donating the property to the City of Hugo with the understanding that they’d create a mini-park. (Including playground equipment, bench, picnic table, etc.). Victor Gardens Community Association (our "Master HOA") and the City of Hugo cooperate with maintenance at Victor Square, Arbre Park and Val Jean Park.  Shared public/private maintenance of this mini-park would be in keeping with what we’re already doing successfully elsewhere.
  • Keeping the property as an VG Community Association Common Area and modify existing landscaping so that it fits better with the landscaping around the Neighborhood Activity Center and Victor Square.  To get this right, I’d suggest requesting professional design proposals from professional landscape designers. This design could include a picnic table, benches or similar.
As of now, here’s what I’m against:  
  • It’s not financially justifiable to invest a lot of money into a new community building, enlarged pool, or exercise facility.
  • A splash pad or kiddie pool, would become a magnet for non-residents, just as our pool did until we invested heavily in security services, electronic key fobs, cameras and recording devices. 
  • Enlarged parking areas.  There’s enough street and lot parking for the pool’s capacity.
  • Community gardens are a noble idea, but there isn’t water service to the property.  Volunteer maintenance hasn’t proved reliable in this neighborhood.
  • The property is too small to be developed into another townhouse building.  I’ve heard this from two different developers who specialize in this.
  • Leaving it as-is.  Although it’s no longer an eyesore, there are opportunities for better use.

Thank you,
Mark Vlker