2014 Spring Newsletter

Spring Newsletter

April 2014


Spring is officially here, but we are still awaiting the warmer weather that is certainly to come. We are looking forward to more activity in the complex as nice sunny days will get people out and walking in the complex. With this in mind, please be aware that we have a 10 mile per hour speed limit after you pass over the speed bump. Children, parents, pets and walkers will appreciate it.

If you are Spring cleaning your home, don’t forget to Spring clean your deck too. After removing unwanted or unused items, your deck can be cleaned with a mild detergent. If you have a wooden deck, you may even consider sanding and re-staining the wood. A clear coat of sealer can be used or if you want to paint your deck, it needs to be painted brown to keep consistency with all decks. A few owners have sanded and sealed their decks with a natural stain and they look brand new. The required Form to Re-stain your deck is included with the most recent copy of the Rules and Regs or a copy can be obtained at office. Scrub down your chairs, tables and other items that are on your decks to remove the winter grime. Putting pots of flowers on your deck adds color that can be enjoyed all summer long.

Maintenance has noticed that garden unit owners have been leaving shoes, boots and winter gear outside their doors in the hallways. With winter over, please store these items inside your unit as it makes vacuuming of the garden hallways easier if these items are removed.

At the Annual Meeting we informed you that we are looking at replacing our roofs within the next 5 or 6 years. As an update to that meeting, we have been able to put $2,000.00 a month into the Capital Reserve. This is above the projected amount planned and we hope to be able to continue for the remainder of the year. Additional information will be published concerning our need to raise the approximate $250,000 needed to replace the roofs and gutters. The Trustees have discussed an increase of $20.00 or $25.00 a month to the existing condo fees to reach the amount needed. This will be a Ballot Question for the 2015 Annual Meeting. This is your chance to become involved.

The sand in the parking lot will be cleaned up; it certainly is more than we are used to. When a date is set, a notice will be sent to all owners and residents to let them know their vehicles will need to be moved. We recommend that vehicles be moved away from the areas being cleaned because as the cleaning process is done, the sand and gravel can fly into the air and possibly damage your vehicle.

The Trustees have asked all dog owners to not walk or play with their dog on the two center lawns. Because there are now 16 dogs (large and small) in the complex the extra activity on these lawns could have a negative impact which would affect the overall appearance of our complex. Hillcrest Park wants to be a pet friendly complex but we must consider the impact that the pets have on our grounds. Our Rules and Regulations already restrict sports activities that could damage the lawns. To keep the lawns in the best condition possible, we have asked that the dogs be kept off them also. Dogs can be walked (on leash) anywhere else around the complex. We encourage pet owners who enjoy walking their dog to check out some of the pet friendly areas in town.

Last summer several residents had cats climb up their front screen doors damaging them. Please remember that all cats are to be indoor cats only.

Michelle is keeping all the laundry rooms cleaned and vacuumed, thank you Michelle! Two of the older hot water tanks in these laundry rooms have been replaced. If you use the laundry room in the basement of your building, remember that the next person who wants to use it expects to find it as clean as you did.

We have several projects planned for the summer months ahead. The sprinkler system will be started up, the lawns will have all the sand cleaned off them when the parking lot is cleaned and Bill will be replacing all the roof shingles that have fallen off over the winter months. Bill will also be working on the fence around the dam, replacing some of the damaged or decaying posts. In our continuing effort to replace the damaged walkways, four more will be done during the summer. When the Trustees do their Annual Walk Around, they will determine which 4 are most in need of replacement. The parking lot will be re-striped with a few changes in parking spaces. There is very limited space in regards to Units 24 through 30 and Units 43 through 52. Nothing can be done to get both of your cars in front of your unit but repainting the lines and numbers will be an improvement.

Very soon we should be able to put the benches and Adirondack chairs back on the patio that overlooks the pond. We have seen that may people are enjoying sitting on the patio on warm sunny days. We especially invite the Garden Unit owners to take advantage of the patio this summer.  There is always wildlife activity on the pond. In the past two years we have seen many Canadian geese, Mallard Ducks, 3 Muskrats who sat on the ice munching away on plants from the pond during the winter. The Blue Heron is a regular visitor but you need to get up early in the morning to see him. He slowly walks along the pond edge from the cattails towards the dam. Last year several reports came in to the office that deer were on the opposite side of the pond standing in the shallow water.

As the snow has melted, we have noticed an alarming number of cigarette butts left on the grounds and parking lot. If you smoke, please dispose of your cigarette butts in a proper manner, do not drop them outside on the lawns, mulch or in the parking lot. Our concern is not only the appearance of the complex but safety as well. Last year two fires were started because people dropped their cigarette butts on dry mulch. The fire doesn’t start right away but smolders for a while. Luckily a resident noticed the smell of burning mulch and was able to get the fire out before it became large enough to cause any damage. In another instance, a cigarette butt was dropped off a back deck. Again after smoldering for a while, a fire did start and totally melted one of the black drain pipes that are used to divert water away from the building. This fire was noticed and reported by a resident. We are grateful that both of these fires did not cause more damage but they could have if they had not been noticed in time.

Included with this Newsletter is an Emergency Contact Information Page. The Trustees feel that it is important to have an emergency contact for everyone in the complex as emergencies have taken place within the complex and this gives us immediate contact to your family members if the situation requires it. We also need to be current with the number of pets in the complex and vehicle information. We are asking pet owners to include a current copy of the pet license and rabies shots. Due to the influx of new arrivals in the complex, we are evolving as well to the requests of residents. It was brought up at the past meeting that we should have copies of license and rabies shots for pets. We already request that pets be insured on a home owner’s policy. Residents would like to make sure pets are property licensed and have had their required shots. Please return it to the office as soon as possible. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

The HillcrestPark Trustees


Agenda for April 16th Trustee Meeting

April 16, 2014

Trustee Meeting Agenda

1. Acceptance of the minutes of the March 12th Trustee Meeting

2. Report on Maintenance

          Adherence to additional vehicle regulation

         New Emergency Contact Form

          Re-strip parking lot – designate Office Spaces

          Replacing fallen shingles

          Exterminating companies and inspections

          Clean up of complex

          Determine sidewalks to be replaced

3. Office

          Earthquake insurance

          Unit 30 update   

4. Other Business

5. Review of Accounts

          Checking Account

          Capital Reserve

          Cash Account

Letter to Dog Owners

The following letter was mailed to all of the owners and residents who have dogs in the complex.

Dear Owners and Residents,

There are currently 16 dogs in the complex, large and small breeds. The Trustees have received complaints about walking and playing with your dog on the two large lawns in the center of the complex. While it is a beautiful and open area to play with your pet, we spent $15,530.00 last year in maintaining our complex, especially these two center lawns.  Feel free to walk your dog (on leash) in any of the other areas of the complex except for these two center lawns. Our concern along with other residents is that the dogs are going to have an adverse effect on these lawns this coming Spring and Summer. Not walking dogs on them would eliminate brown spots from urine which will have a negative impact on the appearance of these lawns.                   

Residents have also complained about dogs being walked close to their patios and urinating on the bushes that were planted only a few years ago.

HillcrestPark is striving to be a dog friendly complex. To this end, again we remind owners to pick up after their pets.

The Rules and Regulations state “The appearance and condition of the lawns has a direct impact on the value of all the units here at Hillcrest Park. For this reason, activities that may have an adverse impact on the lawns (particularly the two main lawns in the center of the property) must be prohibited. Such activities shall include, but are not limited to: kick-ball, football, baseball, softball, volleyball, soccer, golf, croquet and the use of any athletic equipment. Bike riding is not allowed on any of lawn areas”

At this point The Trustees are going to add the walking and playing of dogs on these two center lawns is also prohibited.  The Rules and Regulations will be updated to include this new regulation.

 If you have any questions, please contact the office.

The Trustees

Hillcrest Park Complex


Agenda for March 12th Trustee Meeting


March 12th Trustee Meeting

6:30 p.m.

1. Acceptance of the Minutes of the February 11th Trustee Meeting

2. Report on Maintenance

            Exterminating contracts

            Tighe & Bond contract for inspection of dam

            G & H contract to clean up parking lot in the Spring

            Hot water tank replacement in Bldgs 4 and 9

            Repair of dryers in Bldgs 3 & 6

            Unit 30 update

            Dogs in regards to maintaining lawns

3. Office

            Comcast Non Binding Agreement

            Earthquake Insurance

4. Other Business

5. Review of Accounts

            Checking Account

            Capital Reserve

            Cash Account


February 22, 2014 Winter Newsletter

HillcrestPark Condominium

        Winter Newsletter – February 22, 2014

Winter Greetings to you all, we hope everyone is safe and warm as winter continues to bring us snow and ice.

We would like to thank our Snow Team which consists of Bill, Michelle and Jeff for the work they put into keeping our steps, walks and parking lot clear of snow. We do appreciate that they go out multiple times during each storm to keep the area safe for us.

There is a predetermined list in the office of Unit Owners that the Snow Team helps, after a storm, in cleaning off their vehicles. These include handicap individuals and owners with major health issues. If you feel you need assistance with your vehicle after a storm, please contact one of the Trustees and we will discuss your situation to determine if your name should be added to the list. Unfortunately, we cannot have the Snow Team clean off cars all around the complex. They are paid by the hour and our snow budget it already getting low.

With the increasing cost of snow removal this year, please remember that we do not plow the parking spaces until after the storm is over. Do not move your vehicles out of your parking spaces until the orange cones are placed in the parking lot. The arteries are plowed several times during the storm so those who need to leave the complex can, but parking spaces are not plowed until the snow storm has ended. If cars continue to move out of their parking spaces early and are parked along the fence area before the orange cones are put out, we may have to start issuing a fine of $25.00 to each person who moves their vehicle early. By parking the cars along the fence early, it prevents the plows from properly clearing the arteries.

The office has received several complaints concerning trash days. Owners have noticed more and more trash being put out on Monday before the Tuesday trash day. Our Rules and Regulations state “Trash may be put out after dark the night before pick up ONLY if placed in a barrel with a tight fitting lit. Trash not in barrels (green bags) may only go out the morning of trash pickup. If you must put your trash out early because of work schedules, please purchase a barrel with a lid. This will also prevent animals from ripping apart the bags during the night. Barrels may not be stored in front of units or on decks/patios. We appreciate everyone working together to keep the complex looking good at all times.

Len would like to thank everyone who contributed to the South Hadley Food Bank during its food collection in January. Over 50 bags of non perishable items were collected in our complex. We look forward to being able to help those less fortunate in next years food drive.

With the re-occurring ice problem in the complex, we are willing to provide sand/salt for each townhouse owner to use at their front door. Garden units already have container of salt/sand mix right inside their doors. If you have a container with a lid, either an empty laundry detergent bottle, an empty milk jug or a large coffee can (anything with a lid), please leave it outside your front door so we can fill it with sand. We have found that even if we sand the walks, stairs and parking lot during the day or in the evenings, ice forms overnight and becomes a problem as people leave for work early in the morning. This does not mean that the Snow Team will not be salting and sanding. They will continue to treat the walks the best they can, this would be an emergency supply for your use if you find icy steps as you leave your home.

A trash barrel will be outside the office side door with sand/salt for refills.

Looking forward to Spring!

Stay Safe

HillcrestPark Trustees

January 15th Trustee Meeting

The minutes from the January 15th Trustee Meeting have been posted to the Minutes Page.

The Trustee Meeting in March will be March 12th starting at 6:30 pm.

Minutes of the 2014 Annual Meeting

Annual Owner’s Meeting

January 7th, 2014

The meeting was called to order at 7:05 pm.

Leonard welcomed the owners in attendance and introduced the Trustees. Debby and Gail were re-elected to their positions. Sue Pauquette will be our new trustee. She will have a 1 year term completing Kelly Gray’s vacated position.

Report on Audit

Quality Tax and Bookkeeping Service provided the Trustees with the following letter. “The Hillcrest Trust has retained my services to look over their yearly accounts and to do their yearly tax return. Using the ledgers provided me by your office personnel (and matching them with the bank statements and receipts that were also provided); I was able to complete your 2012 tax return without any problems. It was filed electronically and accepted by the IRS. Thank you for your opportunity to serve you. Sue Lactowski IRS Enrolled Agent.”

New Rules and Regulations Handbook Delivered

The new handbook was delivered to every owner. Each owner signed that they received a copy of the revised Rules and Regulations handbook. Copies were mailed, return signature required, to any owner not living in the complex. The Rules and Regulations are on file at the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds.

 Completed Projects for 2013

Gail reported on the projects completed in 2013 which included new sidewalks, replacing the hallway carpets in garden units 37 through 40, replacing the smoke detectors in all of the garden unit hallways, new signs around the pond for people fishing, replacing the pump in the pond which services the complex’s sprinkler system and the fountain pump, removal of the tree in front of Unit 1, repairs to the roof of Building 2 and new plants in front of Units 19 through 30.

Mary Lee Lachowetz asked if the new plants were to replace ones that didn’t survive. The new plants replaced hostas that had been there for years and couldn’t take the heat in the summer. She asked what repair was done on the roof of Building 2. There was a leak which was repaired. During that repair, the contractor found some trusses that needed to be repaired. All of the other roofs in the complex were checked and found to be in good shape. Steve Balicki asked if there was a 5 year plan for the complex. Leonard answered that we just finished a 5 year plan which included replacing the front doors of the units; landscaping, taking down the large old trees, planting new trees and replacing the fence in front of Units 31 through 35. We don’t have a specific 5 year plan at this time.

Leonard introduced Michelle as our light duty maintenance person in the complex. She does a variety of jobs including vacuuming the garden units and laundry rooms, weeding, outside painting etc. She is our go-to person for all the small but important things that need to be done that keeps the complex looking good.

Leonard reported that the Projects for 2014 include replacing more sidewalks, re-striping the parking lot and installing wireless sprinklers.

Increase of 3% in the Condo Fees

During the summer the Trustees had planned on replacing more sidewalks than the two that were done but when the repair was being done on Building 2, the contractor noted that the shingles on the roofs would need to be replaced in 5 to 6 years. At that time, we stopped the sidewalk replacements and had several contractors come into the complex to give us quotes on shingle replacement.

Several contractors looked at the property and all agreed that the shingles will need replacement in 5 to 6 years. At first it was thought that the shingles on the mansards would need to be replaced as well. One of the contractors explained that the shingles on the mansards aren’t as worn as the ones on the tops of the roofs because the snow does not sit on them. It is just the roof shingles that will need replacement. Only one contractor presented a written quote. Other contractors just gave a verbal quote because they understood the job wouldn’t be done for 5 to 6 years. RCI quoted $371,000.00 for replacement of all the shingles and provided us a second quote of 240,000.00 for just replacement of the roof shingles without the mansards. All the money from the 3% fee increase will be put into Capital Reserve for the roof replacement. The door loan will be paid off in 2016. The amount of that payment will be put into Capital Reserve as well. By stopping the work on the sidewalks and being conservative in other areas, we were able to put an additional $8,500.00 into Capital Reserve along with the planned $12,000.00.  

The Trustees propose to increase fees in the coming years to pay for the replacement of the roofs and hopefully not have an assessment to the owners. Linda Perry asked about the shingles that fall off the mansards. Those shingles were glued in place and Bill replaces them as they fall off. He uses a small nails to secure them. Patty Clayton reminded the owners of a past roof assessment which equaled an additional months condo fee.

Review of 2014 Budget

The total amount of condo fees were not collected for the year 2013 as one unit has been left unoccupied and the fees have gone unpaid. The attorney for the complex is handling the matter and his fee will be part of the settlement from the bank.

Building Repairs were beyond the projected amount because of the repairs needed for the roof of Building 2.

$20,500 was put into Capital Reserve. The additional money for Capital Reserve coming from sidewalk repair as we only replaced two sidewalks, not the six we had planned.

Equipment Repair included the replacement of the pump in the pond that provides water for the sprinkler system and the pump for the fountain.

The Legal Expense included the fees from both of the Annual Meetings in 2013 along with other requests for legal opinions.

Donations were made to charities for owners who lived in the complex and passed away or who had a relative pass away. The office makes a $50.00 donation in their memory to a charity of their choice.

Steve Balicki asked if we will plan to continue with the sidewalks. In our efforts to save money for roofs, we still need to maintain the property. We plan on replacing sidewalks, with safety concerns in mind but at a slower pace.

Chelsea Downs asked when we plan on putting 10% of our annual income into the bank to make it easier for people to obtain loans moving into the complex. The owners of the complex decide how much to put into the Capital Reserve on an annual basis. With this year’s increase of 3%, it will still not be 10% of our annual income. The Trustees goal is to take care of the complex and save for future projects, not to put the 10% in to facilitate mortgage loans. There have been several sales in the complex this past year and people moving in were able to obtain mortgages. As we continue to plan for the roof replacement, fees will most likely be increased. A ballot question in 2014 will address another increase. It will be easier for the owners to pay a small amount per month rather than have an assessment. Steve Balicki asked why we don’t reduce the budget amounts and put more money into the bank on a monthly basis. The Trustees don’t know what unexpected repairs may have to be made during the year. The Trustees don’t want to put money into Capital Reserve one month just to pull it out the next month to pay bills. At the end of the year, any surplus will be put into Capital Reserve. The Capital Reserve is a savings for larger unexpected repairs.

Linda Perry asked the Trustees if we would replace the sign out on Route 202 because the black sign that is currently there is hard to see at night. It will be on the Agenda at the next Board meeting.

The results of the ballot voting

Question 1, “Should the Board of Trustees consist of only unit owners?” 52% said yes, 2.49% said no.

Question 2, “How much should be charged, per month, to those individuals who park their vehicles in a Visitors Parking Space.” 17.32% voted for $20.00, 15.06% voted for $30.00 per month, 3.35% voted for $40.00 per month, 11.36% voted for $50.00 per month and 7.28% voted for No Charge.

Ann Eaton asked why we are starting to charge for additional vehicles. Parking additional vehicles has been discussed at every Trustee meeting. We have met for the past year with owners, have fined owners and parking is still an issue. Steve Balicki asked if the fee could be rescinded. We will try to resolve the parking issue this year with the fee. If it doesn’t work then we will be talking about parking at the Annual Meeting in 2015. Patty Clayton asked if the spaces in front of the office could be returned to Office Spaces as they were several years ago. When the parking lot is re-striped, they will be changed back to Office Spaces.

Question 3, “Would you like to allow the collection of food for the South Hadley Food Pantry in the complex?” 46.05% voted Yes, 9.13% voted No.

The results of the ballot votes will be delivered to every unit owner.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 pm.





Agenda for February 11th Trustee Meeting


February 11th Trustee Meeting

6:30 pm

1. Acceptance of the Minutes of the Annual Meeting and the January 15th Trustee Meeting.

 2. Report on Maintenance

            Contract from Champion Lawn Care

            Trash being put out early

            Hot water tank – laundry room in Building 34

 3. Report from Office

            Unit 30 update

            Earthquake insurance

            Result of Food Drive

            Pet Request Forms

            Refund on Bonding Policy

            Foreclosure proceeding for excessive fines

            Comcast contract

4. Other Business

 5. Review of Accounts

            Checking Account

            Capital Reserve

            Cash Account


Please Keep Your Dog on Leash

Dog on Leash

We have received several complaints regarding dogs in the complex. Some unit owners have come to our meetings and some have sent letters. Many residents have seen owners unleashing their dogs to play in the corner of the complex between Units 48 and 49. There have been reports of piles of waste being left around the complex.  

 As Trustees, we are here to be a liaison to all of you and to uphold the Rules and Regulations when neighbor to neighbor communication isn’t achievable. We understand that sometimes neighbors do not want to start any undo trouble but we are a community and communication is key.

 All current pet owners have signed a pet approval form which states that the owner will abide by the Rules and Regulations which include picking up waste and keeping their dog on-leash. If you see any owner not abiding by these rules, we ask that you contact the office, and report the infraction. A description of the dog and the owner will suffice, since many do not know specific names. There will be a $25.00 fine issued for each infraction.

Thank you

I would like to thank all the residents of Hillcrest Park who donated food on January 20th for the South Hadley Food Bank. Over 50 bags of food was collected and will go to needy families in town. Your contribution was part of the 30,000 pounds of food collected in South Hadley on that date.

Again, thank you.

Len Finkowski, Trustee of Hillcrest Park