POA can­di­dates field ques­tions dur­ing fo­rum

The Weekly Vista - - Front Page - LYNN ATKINS latkins@nwadg.com

Each of the five can­di­dates for the POA board have a unique back­ground that they would like to use for the com­mu­nity they love.

Dur­ing a Meet the Can­di­dates Fo­rum on March 21, they told an au­di­ence of about 40 POA mem­bers what they can bring to the board if elected.

Bal­lots will go out the first week of April. Mem­bers of the Property Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion who are in good stand­ing can vote by mail or on­line un­til the an­nual mem­ber­ship meet­ing on May 16. Three seats will be filled in the elec­tion.

When they in­tro­duced them­selves, each of the can­di­dates spoke about their ex­pe­ri­ence. Both Ruth Hatcher and Hank Ottde-Vries have man­aged coun­try clubs, al­though Hatcher also had a ca­reer in ed­u­ca­tion. David Bran­den­burg has owned and op­er­ated a small busi­ness in Bella Vista since 1985 and has been ob­serv­ing the POA all those years. Jim Abra­ham­son worked for Cooper Com­mu­ni­ties (the de­vel­oper of Bella Vista Vil­lage) and other planned com­mu­ni­ties and has been a gen­eral man­ager for other POAs. Wil­liam Barr has a de­gree in fish bi­ol­ogy and has served on the golf com­mit­tee.

Hatcher and Abra­ham­son are both cur­rently serv­ing on the board.

Each an­swered ques­tions writ­ten by the elec­tion com­mit­tee and then ques­tions sub­mit­ted by the au­di­ence. Each can­di­date had two min­utes for each ques­tion.

They agreed that Bella Vista de­mo­graph­ics are chang­ing and the av­er­age age of res­i­dents is drop­ping. Bran­den­burg, who moved to the area as a young man, said the POA mar­ket­ing should tar­get baby boomers who are more likely to use the ameni­ties.

The can­di­dates also agreed that while a mod­est as­sess­ment in­crease is needed, the POA is do­ing well with its fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Ott-de-Vries pointed out that the last as­sess­ment pro­posal in­creased the monthly fee by a large per­cent­age. But, he added, Bella Vista is much less ex­pen­sive

than sim­i­lar com­mu­ni­ties.

There was lit­tle dis­agree­ment about the con­cept of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the POA and the city. Hatcher said that the two en­ti­ties

have been work­ing closely in a project to im­prove sig­nage. Barr men­tioned the part­ner­ship to build and main­tain the trails.

Abra­ham­son pointed out that the city is in a bet­ter po­si­tion to fund roads be­cause of the avail­abil­ity of state fund­ing. In­cor­po­ra­tion was a good idea, he said.

A ques­tion from the au­di­ence was about how the can­di­date would ed­u­cate him­self about POA is­sues. Barr said he will con­tinue go­ing to open meet­ings and the Ques­tions and Cof­fee events at Rior­dan Hall. Bran­den­burg said he’ll con­tinue to read The Weekly Vista.

Dur­ing their fi­nal com­ments,

Bran­den­burg made a plea for over­seed­ing. He said north­ern vis­i­tors don’t want to play golf when the cour­ses are brown. Over­seed­ing the Ber­muda grass will not hurt it, he said.

The prac­tice of over­seed­ing with rye grass for win­ter stopped in Bella Vista two or three years ago.

Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista

Bob Hig­gins, a mem­ber of the POA’s Elec­tion Com­mit­tee, tells the crowd of about 40 mem­bers about the for­mat of the Meet the Can­di­dates Night. There are five can­di­dates com­pet­ing for three seats on the POA Board of Di­rec­tors.

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