The Fairfield Glade Community Club’s Election Committee formulated eight questions for all candidates to answer prior to the Virtual Candidates Forum.
The questions cover a broad range of subjects to allow the candidates to provide their opinions and ideas on a variety of important topics. Answers to each question were limited to a maximum of 75 words. The candidate answers are presented exactly as they were submitted.
1. How will you support the current direction of the Community Club as set by the Board of Directors, or what changes would need to be made to that direction to earn your support?
Donald Elliot: From the board meetings that I have observed, our current board seems to work well together. I firmly believe our directors’ responsibility is to come to a consensus as to what needs to be done and let our management team decide how to get the job done. I welcome the opportunity to work with our management team.
Gary Fitch: I support the current direction of the Board, but we need to do a better job of strategic planning if we are to continue growing successfully.
Bruce Horn: As I currently understand the direction the Board has set, I am in support, so long as it does not come into conflict with core values stated in my response in question 3 of this document.
Greg Jones: I believe it is imperative to continue to use tools like the 2018 Strategic Plan, our budgeting process, and our Mission/Vision/Core Values statements as a basis for all we do. This will enable us to achieve sound operating and implementation plans by working with the various Board Committees to make necessary changes that reflect current Community requirements/priorities.
Gerald Miller: The strategic plan is the direction of the Community Club which for the most part I do and will continue to vocally support. But where the Board/GM actions do not support the words, I will continue to be among the first to step up and challenge those actions. I will do the same when their actions begin to drift away from this remaining an affordable retirement community first with resort style amenities for everyone to enjoy.
John Wedgeworth: I support the current direction of the FG Community Club set by the Board of Directors. The Strategic Plan presented at 2019 Town Halls is a strong model for future growth as a resort/retirement community. I support a firm focus on pro-growth and fiscal responsibility, with operating expense control. The attraction of next generation residents is an initiative which I strongly support, but it must also be balanced with current resident services and amenities.
2. The Community Club Declaration, Bylaws, and Covenants and Restrictions have governed Fairfield Glade since its inception fifty years ago. What improvements or changes to these documents would you support?
Donald Elliott: I would support changes of the Community Club Declaration, Bylaws, and Covenants and Restrictions only after discussion, debate and due consideration of the proposed changes. Fairfield Glade has continually been growing and improving over the past 50 years. I have no reason to change any of our governing documents at this time.
Gary Fitch: I do not have any changes to suggest, but I am open to discussing any proposed changes.
Bruce Horn: As the Covenants and Restrictions was adopted in 1997, and The First Amendment was added in 2008, it would seem to be in the best interests of the Community Club to review and update all relevant documents regularly in light of the many social, economic, and cultural changes we have seen in the last two decades.
Greg Jones: I have reviewed the Club Declaration, Bylaws and Covenants and Restriction documents. There are processes in these documents that allow for proposing changes or updates. These processes, in my view, should suffice for making the necessary changes as the Community’s needs or requirements change in the future.
Gerald Miller: This would take 7,500 words to answer--not 75. But let me respond with: Updates of language, clarity needed on sections with unclear intent and interpretive differences, change one lot-one/one vote to voting by those named on the deed (this would be fair plus solve the Wyndham election control issue), clarify the powers of the ACC, limitation on the Developer’s right to veto good-faith amendments, so much more.
John Wedgeworth: I believe that any substantial changes would need to be discussed in special forums or Town Halls with the Community, to obtain residents’ input. The FG BOD should continue its initiative of making residents and future residents aware of the Community Club Declaration, Bylaws, Covenants and Restrictions, by providing information via e-mail communications, and the utilization of the FGCC website.
3. Which of our core values do you believe is the most important to Fairfield Glade’s future, and why?
Donald Elliott: It is my opinion, that property values are our most important core value. Because, we all want the assurance that our investment in our homes and property will appreciate in the future. I think our core values as outlined in our 2018 Strategic Plan are a comprehensive set of values. The table, “Core Values and Strategic Issues Correlation Table,” on page 19, is a great visual representation of the relationship between Core Values and Strategic Issues. It is my belief, that the values and issues are intermingled and interdependent. I firmly believe that our core values are well defined and all are important to maintain our community.
Gary Fitch: Honesty, integrity and transparency are the most important core values. If you don’t adhere to these values, nobody can or should trust you, no matter what you do. If you follow these values, people may disagree with you but they will not doubt that you are sincere in your ideas and opinions.
Bruce Horn: Honesty, Integrity, Transparency are the fundamental values that anchor all other stated core values and will guide the strategy and planning for the future of Fairfield Glade.
Greg Jones: The most important core value in my opinion is “Maintain, Honesty, Integrity, and Transparency.” If these three attributes are present in all of our dealings as a Board and a Community the other core values will stand strong.
Gerald Miller: All 10 Core Values are important, but if you are asking which one of the core values is the most important, I say Core Value 1-- “Providing a safe and secure environment for our members and guests.” As the core value also says, safety and security serve as the foundation of a comfortable lifestyle. Without that foundation, Fairfield Glade would cease being a community of choice for almost anyone, including visitors and guests?
John Wedgeworth: I believe the most important FG core value is, “Maintain community standards to preserve property values”. All Fairfield Glade residents have made a substantial financial investment to purchase their home and/or lot. All residents share the reasonable expectation that their FG property values will be protected and will increase each year. Residents share in a responsibility to each other, to adhere to FG Community standards which will support the increase of all our property values.
4. Please provide a detailed explanation of your position on Community Club subsidies of the Food & Beverage amenity.
Donald Elliott: I consider our restaurants an essential convenience and expectation of the residents and guests of our community. However, our board and management team should continuously seek ways to reduce the subsidies to our restaurants. We need to listen to the employees, to the community and make adjustments as necessary. Expanding Stonehenge Grill, redesigning the kitchen and changing the front of the building will hopefully provide a more unique dining experience for our residents and guests.
Gary Fitch: I think that Food & Beverage is an essential amenity, and having only one restaurant is not adequate to meet the needs of the community. We need to explore ways to provide additional options.
Bruce Horn: While it would be great if F&B were self-sufficient, there has been no convincing evidence that the Community Club Members and visitors can frequent our current establishments to the extent subsidies would not be needed.
Greg Jones: Food & Beverage subsidies are mis-characterized as subsidies. I see them as investments needing to be viewed from a holistic and long-term perspective. Maintaining these investments is critical in attracting new and retaining current residents. These investments allow us to achieve our Vision and Mission statements. I agree the Board should continue to review the level of investment each year considering the Peavine construction completion, and associated potential commercial and developer proposed development.
Gerald Miller: I have devoted thousands of hours to this issue. I watched the losses at Legends alone rise to over $2,000 daily and F&B overall to over $600,000 annually. All recommendations were ignored until August of 2018 when the Board accepted our plan which resulted in the F&B reorganization we are seeing today. For now I can reluctantly accept annual subsidies of under $100,000 while working down to at least a break-even in the not too distant future.
John Wedgeworth: The 2019 F&B survey provided valuable information which galvanized my position regarding subsidies. The F&B subsidies allow continuation of this much-favored amenity of FG residents. The F&B amenity supports residents’ social interaction, provides enjoyment, and delicious sustenance! I am in favor of continuous review of F&B and restructuring, when warranted. Resident F&B surveys play an ongoing role in assisting the CC in controlling expenses and providing fresh ideas regarding menus and future dining incentive programs.
5. The Fairfield Glade Vision Statement is as follows: “Fairfield Glade will continue to be a growing resort/retirement community, and one of the best-value master planned communities in the U.S.” How will you support this vision?
Donald Elliott: My wife and I first visited Fairfield Glade in 2003 and we have been property owners since 2004. We have always enjoyed the ambience and amenities that “The Glade”, has offered. Communicating with our residents, guests and staff, is the key factor for determining areas in need of attention and improvement. As a board member, I will do my absolute best to listen to all concerns and communicate those concerns to the other board members for discussion, debate and due consideration.
Gary Fitch: I think that better strategic planning is the key to our vision. Having a well-defined plan will show guests, potential residents, and residents what the future will be, and will allow us to make better use of our resources.
Bruce Horn: As an At-Large Board member I will be a more visible advocate for our vision. The reason many, if not most of us, made this Community our home is the value and values we found here, and continue to enjoy.
Greg Jones: I will support this vision by: (a) being a fiscally responsible steward of our Community’s resources (b) managing growth to achieve the progress we desire (c) being inclusive in planning, decision making, and communication processes and, (d) being transparent in Board dealings with the Community.
Gerald Miller: I will continue with my 15 years of involvement in issues important to the community’s progress and development. I will speak out on issues that seem to get in the way of fulfilling the vision and offer solutions to help resolve those issues. If elected to the board, I will continue doing the same, but hopefully with more success from the inside than I and so many others have had from the outside.
John Wedgeworth: We must maintain and provide amenities/services which appeal to all residents, current and future. I genuinely believe all residents are proud of FG’s national recognition as, “One of America’s 50 Best-Value Master Planned Communities”. This distinction does not come without effort and forward vision. It is my desire to be a positive and energetic voice in supporting focused marketing to maintain FG’s national reputation, and to also attract future residents with the amenities they seek.
6. In the 2018 Strategic Direction Survey, Members were asked for their opinion on providing a variety of high-quality amenities and services that reflect the interests of current and prospective Members. What is your opinion on this topic?
Donald Elliott: According to the 2018 Strategic Plan, which was created as a result of the 2018 survey, I find the plan to be comprehensive, cohesive and very well thought out. The areas of greatest concerns are being addressed, such as, improving our food and beverage service. I think that increased training of management and service staff would further enhance our residents and guests dining experience.
Gary Fitch: Learning Members’ preferences is a good starting point, but we also need to consider other things that they may not think about. The important thing is that these ideas need to continue to be considered.
Bruce Horn: Surveys, even those that may be well constructed, are necessarily a snapshot of opinions at the time they are taken, they also represent only those who care to respond and are not necessarily reliable data for long term planning. A well designed survey, taken every year, asking the same questions, may be a better indicator for a multi-year Strategic Plan. As this last year has shown, events and circumstances outside our control, plus changing attitudes and opinions, make Strategic Planning a process, not an event.
Greg Jones: To maintain success in these areas, we will need to continue monitoring the competition, understand what future residents will be looking for in these areas, understand the needs and priorities of our current Community, and make the necessary investments through achievable implementation plans in a fiscally responsible and managed manner. I believe, services and amenities must be viewed as a complete package that allows us to achieve our Vision and Mission.
Gerald Miller: We have 14 of the 15 (93 %) high demand amenities in like communities. We only lack billiards. We also have a dog park, community gardens, basketball, stables, mini-golf, art guild and perhaps even a concert park. 91% of us want FFG amenities to be in the above average tier. 70% want us the top tier. We exceed both. Let’s concentrate spending for awhile on maintaining and /improving what we have plus infrastructure needs. Take a timeout on new amenities.
John Wedgeworth: This Survey details how high-quality amenities create a “vibrant lifestyle”. This phrase is repeatedly used by FG residents and is most certainly an attribute sought by future residents. My opinion is FG leadership must continuously review lifestyle and amenity trends which are growing in popularity with the 55+ demographic. FG must stay alert to these trends, to ensure that current and future residents have access to the amenities they both demand and desire.
7. What specific mechanism(s) would you support to foster better two-way communications between the Fairfield Glade Board of Directors and the Community Club membership?
Donald Elliott: If we wish to improve communication and club membership, it would be helpful to have a selection on our website member’s homepage to share a concern or ask a question. I have perused our website and discovered a mountain of helpful information concerning our club. Additionally, I think a sitemap of our website would be very beneficial along with a search function.
Gary Fitch: More public discussion in Board meetings and inclusion in the Board minutes of committee recommendations, particularly the Financial Advisory, Strategic Planning, Major Capital Projects, and Government Relations committees. Open-forum meetings with Board members. Distribution of the Vista at club facilities.
Bruce Horn: Existing programs and processes have been effective. However, I believe these can be enhanced and expanded. For example, the Charters of each existing Advisory Committee might include language that encourages more dialog with, and input from Members.
Greg Jones: Specific ideas would be an expanded use of social media, email, and our Website to disseminate messages. Also expanding opportunities for new and prospective residents to be “educated” on our Community via Community orientation and social connection programs.
Gerald Miller: Minimally: hold monthly group discussion meetings with members to listen and respond, appoint a member advocate to the board, require the board to respond substantively to all civilly worded emails, open all committee meetings to members with only truly confidential issues reserved for executive session, seek input from members on major community development issues before decisions are announced, hold quarterly town hall meetings with member/GM or member/board generated agendas.
John Wedgeworth: Both the “Magnified” articles and e-blast communications from the CC provide valuable and current information to FG residents. When residents first receive their FGCC member cards, e-mail enrollment should be required at that time — if the resident agrees. Also, I believe residents can exercise their membership by attending BOD workshops and the monthly BOD meetings. These events are open to all, provide valuable information, and allow FG residents to provide their feedback.
8. What is your opinion of the current Fairfield Glade property standards?
Donald Elliott: I appreciate the amount of time and effort that has been devoted by our committees ensuring that we have standards in place to protect our property values. I have no issues with the property standards of our club. I look forward to working with the committees and residents on any issues and/or concerns that may arise in the future.
Gary Fitch: Generally, I think the property standards are fair and reasonable, although I have heard of situations where enforcement appears to be arbitrary with no consideration of extenuating circumstances.
Bruce Horn: More clearly defined and more specific examples might help reduce ambiguities and subjective interpretation of the standards. Perceived attitudes of enforcement, i.e. community outreach, might help reduce misunderstandings and encourage cooperation.
Greg Jones: I have reviewed the property standards and believe they meet our current Community needs. Most importantly there are processes written into the governing documents that allow for updates to be made to the standards as our Community changes.
Gerald Miller: Some are a bit restrictive, but for the most part no significant problem. After my discussions with others and a personal experience of a neighbor, I think the major problems are: seeking to fit an uncovered situation into an inapplicable policy, inconsistent enforcement, an inspector’s power play and unprofessional interactions with members. All of this is easily “fixable” and if elected I will do that.
John Wedgeworth: The FG property standards are continuously improved and monitored, to ensure that all FG owners experience positive increases in their property values. The average selling price of homes in FG has increased by 33% since 2011—a reflection of residents’ commitment to FG property standards. All residents have a shared responsibility regarding property standards: to maintain their property with the mutual goal of increasing all residents’ financial investments in their homes.