POA Year in Review
Hydrology, glamping and paddle boards were added to the vocabulary of some POA members who paid attention to the board of directors in 2018, as the association opened a new restaurant, beach and disc golf.
In January, a hydrology report, ordered after the April 2017 floods was read by the POA board of directors at the end of the month. In March, the public got a look at the report. Over 300 members attended an open meeting at Riordan to hear about the results. The golf courses will continue to flood, the audience heard, and stabilizing the stream beds is a costly, long-term project. Eventually, a decision was made to leave the nine holes of Berksdale that had been damaged in 2017 closed but leave the open holes alone. The Country Club Golf Course was named as the priority.
By late January, nine candidates were in the running for four seats on the POA board, several months before the annual election.
In February, a Financial Task Force started work. Also, the board approved new playground equipment for Metfield, Branchwood and Avalon Park.
In early April, members saw the renovation to the Country Club with a new, POA-run restaurant and a new location for the pro shop. A volunteer group funded nets that gave Dogwood Golf Course an area for practice swings.
Later in April, as the board elections approached, an open meeting was called to talk about golf. Board Chairman Ron Stratton urged the members to consider four options which included closing both Berksdale and Kingswood and a new course on the POA owned land on the Arkansas/Missouri border. After the April work session, the board produced a golf position paper that
recommended the closing of the nine holes open at Berskdale and a study to determine the future demand for golf. If the demand was found, more studies would be needed to consider where a fifth 18 hole course should be located.
The regular meeting in April drew a standingroom-only crowd. The board voted to close the open section of Berksdale at the end of the season and then went into executive session. Board member Jim Abrahamson presented a complaint against board member John Nuttall accusing him of violating the organization’s ethics policy by communicating with members about the golf course issue. Nuttall seemed to be against an effort to build a fifth golf course on the Ark/ Mo land. At the end of the executive session, Nuttall was removed from the board of directors.
The term “glamping” was used to describe a small, premanufactured cabin that the board agreed to install at the Blowing Springs RV park as a pilot. The cabin was approved in May and ready for use in the fall. The RV park, including several new tent camping sites and improvements to both RV sites and restrooms, was busy with the new visitors drawn by mountain trail bikes throughout the east side of town.
Also in May, it was revealed that the new Bermuda greens at Scotsdale had been damaged over the winter in spite of the maintenance crews use of protective covers. Scotsdale was closed for most of the summer while new greens were planted and grown in. New covers for the greens were ordered.
The annual membership meeting and board of directors election were held in late May and two new board members were elected — Mary Sinkus and Jerry Hoover. Two board members were relected — Pat Laury and Jim Abrahamson. Since Laury received the least votes of those four candidates, he took the position that was due to expire in one year rather than one of the three regular terms of three years. Chairman Ron Stratton who had championed the cause of a new course on the Ark/Mo land had chosen not to run for re-election. John Nuttall’s recently vacated seat was not on the ballot since it opened after the ballots were mailed. In June, the board appointed Mike Abb, one of the nine candidates in 2018, to fill that unexpired term.
On Memorial Day weekend, the ribbon was cut on a new amenity, a swimming beach at Lake Avalon Park. Along with swimming, the new beach would rent paddle boards and canoes. A class in paddle boarding was organized and filled up quickly.
In June, the second APT golf tournament was held. Players on the APT tour are professional golfers who haven’t yet reached the level of the PGA.
Also in June, a new golf position paper was introduced by general manager Tom Judson and eventually adopted by the board. The new plan included keeping the holes open at Berksdale while the board considers plans to develop the property as a park. Next door, the Kingsdale course will remain open unless the number of rounds drops below 120,000 a year. If flooded, no money would be spent repairing either course. Also, the board agreed to stop considering a new course on the Ark/ Mo land.
A disc golf course was open at Branchwood where there was once a ninehole golf course. The golf course has been closed since flooding in 2013 and turned into a park in 2015.
In spite of no longer serving on the board, Nuttall and his wife, Susan Nuttall, developed a presentation about golf in Bella Vista. Among the highlights was a statistic that indicated only 18 percent of POA members play golf. Those golfers were divided into groups based on how often they play. The avid golfers who play more than twice a week and purchase an annual membership end up paying only about $13 per round.
In August, the financial task force finished its work and recommended to the board that an election be held to raise Bella Vista assessments. The recommended increase was $10 for owners of improved lots and $2 for owners of unimproved lots. Although the board agreed to the plan, in September the election was abruptly canceled. Judson said he was surprised by the lack of support for an increase.
In September, members saw a renovated clubhouse at Branchwood with a larger exercise room and space for exercise classes.
The October board meeting was moved to Riordan. This time the issue most members wanted to talk about was trails, with some members unhappy about the second section of trail that is planned for the central portions of the city.
November’s meeting was about the 2019 budget, which was approved. An expense of $100,000 was included for stump dumps and Judson explained that it might be used for a new mulching operation to replace a stump dump that the state ordered closed in the Highlands or it might be needed for remediation expenses at the site of a former stump dump on POA property. The POA contracted with an engineering firm that will work with the state to determine if three sites of former stump dumps are safe.
The POA revealed a new camping pod in Blowing Springs Park last fall. It was meant to be a pilot, but when the 2019 budget was approved there were no funds in it for additional pods.
Some of the first swimmers to use the new beach at Lake Avalon were in the water just minutes after the ribbon was cut on Memorial Day Weekend.