Aside from new leadership, the Chautauqua Property Owners Association is seeking to move into a new era of transparency, accountability and action.
That began, in many ways, last Saturday morning in the Hall of Philosophy during their first open general meeting when more than 100 members were handed a two-sided list detailing the notes for the report on the CPOA 2016 survey of property owners.
“We heard it, we’re starting to work on it,” said Jeff Lutz, CPOA’s treasurer. “Some of this stuff will take some time.”
According to the survey, the property owners were highly satisfied with the lawns, gardens and buildings across the grounds, while only half were satisfied with the condition of the streets. Concern was expressed regarding uneven strips of the brick walk. Fifty-one percent supported the speed bumps but many did not like their design, and expressed wanting them changed.
During the meeting, many members were concerned about cars, bikes and some Institution vehicles not heeding speed limits and stop signs. Residents on the south end of the grounds were more satisfied with shuttle and tram service compared to north end residents. North end residents said that there’s a lack of visibility when it comes to the shuttle and tram, and a lack of a consistent schedule.
The biggest concerns gleaned from the survey centered on “attendance and home ownership,” including rising gate pass fees, costly year-round property taxes and the possibility of being priced out.
“We heard it, but we’re not sure what we can do about it,” Lutz said.
Nearly 20 percent of survey respondents who had reached out to CPOA representatives did not think the reps were very responsive, something that Lutz said is a “real opportunity for improvement.”
“We really do need to better define what CPOA is,” Lutz said. “We need to engage you in discussion about what CPOA should be.”
Members remain in support of the street lighting initiative but want to see it fully implemented. According to Bill Neches, Institution Class B trustee, National Grid is “taking its time.”
CPOA also plans to reboot its Shared Space Initiative, which CPOA President Barbara Brady said lacks a concrete definition. But with the attention and efforts of a new committee, Brady said, CPOA will “develop the idea further.”
CPOA has six committees: Communications, Marketing and Branding; Finance, Budget and Audit; Outdoor Lighting; Property Owners Who Rent; Safety and Transportation; and Events, a new committee. Brady encouraged members to join committees.
“CPOA needs your involvement, your time and talent to be successful,” Brady said.
Brady also said they have plans to “reinvigorate and standardize” the area representative roles to be more effective in serving their respective areas across the grounds and in fielding comments and concerns from property owners.
In an effort to “be a better advocate for property owners at the Institution,” Lutz said CPOA has added a senior administration representative to each of its six committees. This comes as a direct response to survey respondents’ feelings that the Chautauqua Institution Board of Trustees have an “us versus them mentality,” even though 20 out of the 24 trustees are property owners within the Institution.
The CPOA board is also working with President Michael E. Hill and his staff to re-organize their process for “bringing specific property owner concerns to the attention of Institution administration,” according to Lutz.
“We are not anti-Institution; we are an advocate for property owners,” Lutz said.
In May, 13 CPOA board members met on the grounds for a retreat to discuss, strategize and plan for a more impactful season based on the feedback from the survey. Recently, they reported strong attendance at a pre-season potluck. In the future, CPOA plans to schedule more area-specific events.
“We want your continued participation and input,” Lutz said.