Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Parklawn residents organize effort to oppose cell tower

A Photoshopped view showing the height of the proposed cell tower from Tonto Court in Parklawn. [Photo from Stop the Parklawn Tower website]
Updated - see statement from Parklawn Civic Association at end of article.

A proposal from AT&T to build a cell tower in the Parklawn neighborhood is providing divisive. The Parklawn Recreation Association, which would receive a rental fee from AT&T, supports the tower, but a group of neighbors is opposing it.

Parklawn resident Becky Choi has created a web site, Facebook page, and online petition to mobilize the community to fight the tower.

There will be two community meetings on the cell tower next Monday, Oct. 29, at the Glasgow Middle School cafeteria (4101 Fairfax Parkway, Alexandria). At 6 p.m., the Stop the Parklawn Tower group will hold a meeting outlining its reasons for opposing it. At 7 p.m., AT&T representatives will discuss their proposal.


Choi says the 140-foot cell tower would be on land owned by the Parklawn Recreation Association on the highest hill in the area and thus visible from surrounding neighborhoods, including Lincolnia Heights, Heywood Glen, and Dowden Terrace, as well as Parklawn. As a result, she fears, it would depress property values.

Also, Choi notes, there are questions about the long-term health effects of living close to a cell tower; construction of the tower and related equipment would require the removal of many old trees; and the tower isn’t needed because there is good cell coverage in the area.

And there’s another reason why she’s organizing the opposition: She doesn’t think it’s fair that the Parklawn Pool should benefit financially from a cell tower that will harm the rest of the community.

“The pool has a reputation of being exclusive, as opposed to being inclusive,” Choi says, noting that the pool has not made an effort to recruit members from Parklawn or Lincolnia Terrace. In fact, she believes the pool doesn’t want a diverse membership. When Choi joined the pool in 1993, it had 400 members, but she left because she found the atmosphere “not welcoming.” Its membership is now down to just 174. 

 “If they engaged the community more, they would have way more money than the tower would provide,” she says.

UPDATE: The Parklawn Civic Association Board has issued the following statement regarding the proposed cell tower:

“The Parklawn Civic Association does not hold an official position FOR or AGAINST the proposed cell tower for Parklawn Recreation Association.  We did appoint Ms. Choi, a Parklawn resident and PCA member to chair a committee to gauge opinions and take a survey on the matter. 

“An early survey went out prematurely. After getting feedback from the community and members of the Yahoo groups and pool members, we have now decided the following:

“The survey will be sent out at a later date. We will be working with Heywood Glenn/Lincolnia Hills Civic Association and PRA and PCA to make sure all sides get input. We have a volunteer from Wilburdale Civic Association who will conduct the survey. (She has no dog in the fight.)

“This is the only involvement we will have on this issue.”  

124 comments:

  1. There are so many lies in this posting that it should be taken down. Parklawn Recreation Association welcomes all members, has consistently tried to increase membership through various means (door to door flyers, signs, they even had a couple of events for the Parklawn Civic Association!). Becky Choi is totally incorrect that there were 400 memberships in 1993 - it actually was less then there is now.

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  2. Concur. Ms choi has been repeatedly invited to join the pool but harbors some resentment that occurred 19 years ago. The "financial windfall" will be used to repair plumbing, roofing, other aging infrastructure, bring the pool upto ADA compliance and help to service the sizable debt. I understand the monopole may be unsightly, but how unsightly would an abandoned, dilapidated pool be along the Holmes Run III trail? With high hopes, I have left four guest passes at the pool's front gate for Ms Choi to use next Memorial Day weekend. I hope to see you there in order to dis-spell any further alleged views of the pool's exclusivity.

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  3. Becky Chois anger at the pool for an event that occurred almost 20 years ago is evident by her misrepresentation of the facts to inflame the neighborhood. To begin with the pole that the tower vendor is proposing will look like a pine tree, not the monstrosity in the "photoshopped" picture. Becky should be well aware of this but chose to mislead others by creating the picture shown. Why do we need this tower? Unfortunately our neighborhood is too large and does not receive adequate cell coverage from external sites. We have many people who do not receive cell service in their homes because of this and there are plenty of coverage lapses in our park which poses a big safety risk. On one occasion a woman came across a naked man in the park (which was not an isolated incident according to police) and a cell phone was the only protection she had. We have had other instances where our community could not connect to 911 due to poor coverage. This issue has been ongoing for well over 10 years and needs to be resolved through the installatoin of a tower. Now if only the Becky and the community would pour this intensity into supporting the PTA of our elementary and middle schools as they have essentially no commmunity support!!!

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    1. No one in the Parklawn community wants the Pool to fail. We want it to thrive and be a welcoming member of our community. The cell tower seems to provide a solution to the Pool's financial difficulties, but at what cost? This is a community relations nightmare. Please stop and consider how this is going to affect the Pool's membership in the future. How many members will you lose? How many members will you gain? The Pool should focus the time and energy on efforts to obtain and retain membership, not on obtaining a cell tower.

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  4. Daren Shumate10/23/12, 5:52 PM

    If this blog is supposed to be unbiased, you have tremendously missed the mark.

    For instance:
    If there is a concern about making money from the pool, how about the pool company that makes a profit, and the landscaping company that makes a profit, or even the Swan's salesman who sells ice cream bars to the pool snack bar.

    And "exclusivity?" Perhaps the writer should come down to the pool during the summer and see who really are the members. We are very welcoming to everyone. We have many recent immigrant families who are members and are actively participating in swim team and other pool activities. These families are now part of the extended Parklawn family and we find it hurtful to be accused of "not wanting diversity." In fact, we were active supporters of one family through the "Nadar para vivir" program.

    Outreach to the community?
    In fact, the Parklawn Pool just completed a Fairfax County Neighborhood Enhancement Program Grant which has given back to the community a beautiful open green space where the pool has welcomed the community. Many times on walks or jogs through the park I see neighbors strolling through this beautiful new green space.

    And we are in the process of staring a second grant project to add a handicap ramp to the pool to address concerns that have been addressed.

    As with many neighborhood pools in Mason District, we have a "hand-to-mouth" budget. We barely have enough year-to-year to keep the doors open. The all volunteer board - of which I have been a member for over eight years - works tirelessly to keep the pool open and through blood, sweat, and tears - succeed: if just barely.

    At the end of the day, we are talking about one utility pole that looks like a tree nestled in the woods that will contribute an extra income to the pool so we can finally perform woefully deferred maintenance items.

    I understand for several homes, this utility pole has a direct impact on their view-scape and I am sympathetic. And that's why we're having the public meeting: to have a thoughtful and public discussion about the true impacts of this utility pole to the neighborhood.

    Let's remember to be civil and understand that there are two legitimate sides to this discussion. Remember also that the Parklawn Pool is trying to be a good neighbor and our actions through this process have demonstrated that.

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  5. Ms. Choi is correct---there have been outright comments made about having Hispanics and other minorities at the pool. I have heard the comments, and am aware of others who have been told the same type of information. As a member of the pool, I find it shameful. Were it not for my children, I would cancel my membership.

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  6. Summer hot days, cool dips in the pool, refreshing drinks, friends chatting, and kids splashing, laughing, and getting to know my neighbors, my community. That is what brings to mind when I think of Parklawn Pool (AKA PRA). Parklawn pool offers an opportunity for neighbors to really get to know each other and make new friends. I have loved the feeling of community it offers during the summertime which lasts through the long cold winters.
    With that said, one thing is painfully clear…the pool is in desperate need of repair and attention to make it a more desirable place for all. I have heard on numerous occasions that neighbors have chosen to join other neighborhood pools because they are so much prettier and up to date. Well, it is sad but true. I must agree but I also have the desire to make something out of what we have in our own community. I believe we could have a very desirable pool. This is where I live and this is where I want to see growth. Not in someone else’s neighborhood! That is why I continue to renew my membership every year and participate in all the fundraisers. It is such a shame that some have such bitter feelings about the pool. That could change if only they wanted it to change. If you feel like you haven’t connected than you haven’t given it a chance. Seriously, ask yourself that tough question before passing blanket judgements.

    So, back to the point…the cell tower should be a non-issue. Of course we need the tower for cell phone coverage in the neighborhood for all the obvious reasons and the pool desperately needs the funds to make repairs and even improvements so everyone will want to spend more time there. (not to mention...it is their property) It is a WIN WIN. If anyone thinks for one second they aren’t surrounded by cell towers all day…well, they should open their eyes! My goodness, I hope ya’ll don’t own cell phones because that is way more dangerous. The cell tower proposed will blend in with nature and the company has offered extensive landscaping to help further blend it in to the woods. I am sorry it will change the skyline view but that is sometimes just the way it goes. I didn’t LOVE the change of the skyline when the Mark Center tripled in size but….that is just the way it goes. I understand there will ALWAYS be two sides of the issue but I will remain SOLIDLY on the side of hoping our neighborhood prospers, our pool to start making a much needed comeback, and our community of friends to continue to grow. I hope to meet you at the pool next year. I will be there with my smile on! And hopefully with all the bars on my cell phone!

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    1. That was nicely written. I wish we would all speak up so much about the trashy homes, littered streets and over-crowded schools.

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  7. I do not know why the people in this community are opposed to the cell tower when the tower is going to be built on PRIVATE PROPERTY. This property is owned by the members of PRA -- not the members of the community. There is a sign on the roadway leading to the pool which says "private property for members and their guests only." Also, if there were any substantiated health issues from the cell towers, the school systems would not allow the towers to be built on their property. I have visited cell towers in our area -- specifically on Gallows Road -- and they look nothing like the picture depicted at the top of this blog. One final comment, and that is about the pool membership. I have been a member for over 25 years and can attest to the fact that the pool welcomes all nationalaties as members. Afterall, this is America -- we do no discrimate race or religion.

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    1. I really do love this attitude! It is indicative of what is wrong here. If you feel that this is not an issue because the tower will be built on private property owned by PRA and not the community (isn't this rich), then by all means ignore us. As you have ignored the Parklawn community since this idea was hatched.

      I stand by my suggestion to all of you who say the monopole can be disguised to fit in to the surroundings to go down to Teton Place and look between house #4225 and 4127. There is no way to put enough lipstick on this pig of a tower to hide it.

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  8. Wow. As a member since 2002 I can honestly state that I have never seen any discriminatory behavior at the pool directed towards any of our members. Further, the pool's financial status makes it ludicrous to think that we wouldn't grab anybody's money regardless of ethnic origin we are too cash strapped not to accept any who wish to join the pool - not to mention the fact that it would be discriminatory and just plain wrong. And I dont see how Ms Choi could be a witness to any discriminatory or exclusive behavior since she does is not a member of the pool.

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  9. How sad when we can hide behind the anonymity of the internet.

    Again, I can tell you that the comments of one person - and I didn't hear the comments so I cannot refute what was said - do not represent the policy nor sentiment of the whole.

    If you look around Parklawn Pool, we have a very diverse membership. The assertion that we are anti-Hispanic is absurd. And I take issue with that personally.

    If you would like to speak with me directly, please feel free to call me. It is very, very, very painful for me to see this dialogue about "exclusivity" that I can tell you unequivocally is not representative of the facts.

    Especially to bring this into the discussion when it is absolutely not related to the issue at hand: a cell tower that will help the pool survive.

    Daren Shumate
    (m) 703-462-4298
    (h) 703-658-1546
    daren.shumate@gmail.com

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  10. Parklawn Pool is known for being unwelcoming, to everyone, not just minorities. The atmosphere there is caustic!!! That is why so many people who actually live in Parklawn belong to other pools-just ask them.

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  11. John Edwards10/23/12, 9:56 PM

    Tell me how you would feel if your immediate neighbor put a 150 foot cell tower in their backyard.

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  12. Wow, my invitation aka flyer to join the pool must have flown off my front door multiple times. I've been a Parklawn resident for many decades and no effort has ever been made to invite my family to become members. In fact, one time we did join and left after one season because it was so unwelcoming to us. What pine tree stands well above the treeline? Will the Parklawn pool association come to help the residents that will possibly come down with longterm health issues? I think not. They'll be sunning in their pool, enjoying their cell phone coverage while their neighbors are suffering from cancer, neurological issues and other illnesses. Thanks PRA.

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  13. Lets not hold grudges from the past and lets look forward and stay on subject: the cell tower, cell service, and the ability for the pool to sustain itself as an asset to Parklawn.

    PRA has done incredible things with the grants they have won. The old tennis courts, now a green meadow is a testament to the Pool's (PRA) commitment to the community. Other pools in the area have thrived with the addition of a cell tower. I doubt very much it will look like the photoshopped photo at the header of this article. There are many ways that ATT can camouflage its scale and appearance.

    Personal grievances should be put aside and we should focus on what is best for the neighborhood, the pool, cell phone service and the environment. Regardless of the decision, some folks are going to be disappointed. There is a solution out there that is a compromise and everyone should be willing to give some for the good of the whole.

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    1. "Regardless of the decision, some folks are going to be disappointed."

      Yes... but should those of us that stand to lose property value and standard of living be the ones to compromise? That is what I take issue with the most. This is an incredibly one sided situation. Like it or not, the pool is nothing more than a luxury. Yes, its a fantastic community amenity, but Parklawn will continue to be a thriving community with or without a pool. Would I have bought my house knowing a pool was available? Sure; although I had no idea the pool even existed until after we moved in. Would I have bought my house with a cell tower less than 100 feet away? Absolutely not. I truly don't see how this is even remotely a comparable compromise. There ARE other alternatives to raising funds for the PRA, there are not other alternatives to having a cell tower installed in front and back yards.

      I must say, I'm shocked this is still even a conversation. My husband asked me 2 weeks ago if I'd heard anything on the tower and my response was "oh no, I'm sure its a dead issue. I don't see how the PRA could approve something that so many people opposed." Its sad and disheartening that I was wrong.

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    2. Amanda, you hit the nail on the head! The pool is nothing more than a luxury. I could see the argument if it were for necessary infrastructure but for something that is superfluous entertainment at the expense of others is completely ridiculous and way out of line.

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  14. John Edwards10/23/12, 10:23 PM

    I must take issue with Darens description of PRA as a good neighbor. If PRA was such a fine community citizen, why did they not consult with the Parklawn community those many years ago when the cell tower was first being considered. Especially those members of Parklawn who would be most directly affected by the cell tower; those living on Crater Place, Teton Place, and Tonto Court.

    As a mental exercise, please imagine your immediate neighbor erecting a 150' radio antenna in his/her yard in direct view from your home.

    This "one utility pole that looks like a tree nestled in the woods" will be anything but. Please go to Teton Place and stand facing the gap between house #4125 and #4127. You'll notice that there isn't much to hide this "tree".

    In so far as I know, this meeting is to be a dog and pony show for AT&T to present it's cell tower proposal. A week hardly seems to be enough time to adequately consider the ramifications of a cell tower in our midst.

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  15. Barbara Gleason10/23/12, 10:51 PM

    Please consider the following points as to why the cell tower is important to our community.

    Cell towers already successfully exist in our neighborhood and nearby. (e.g., Peace Lutheran Church)and blend in with the environment and nearby properties. In addition to Peace Lutheran Church in our neighborhood, several Fairfax County public schools nearby already have cell towers located on their property.

    There is poor cell service in the neighborhood and in the park. There have been several reported safety issues where people in the park were unable to get cell service to call for help.

    Parklawn Recreation Association is a vibrant part of the community and has always recruited and welcomed new members. Unlike newer communities, pool membership is voluntary, not required by title covenants as is the case with newer communities), the pool cannot be financially sustained through only membership dues or fundraising.

    An abandoned pool property in the neighborhood means that real estate values could go down—and crime could go up. Without the infrastructure repairs and improvements, the pool could close and be abandoned—which could have serious real estate and safety issues for the Parklawn, Heywood Glen and Lincolnia Hills communities.

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  16. When and where did YOU, anonymous, hear these comments? Did you tell anyone on the board? This is typical of persons who have an agenda and wish to defame others while remaining in the shadows. "I was told and I heard" are a way to generate a buzz without any evidence.
    I personally asked Becky Choi to join our pool during a joint Parklawn Recreation Asociation-Parklawn Civic Association event two summers ago. She did not join, and failed to express any of these negative opinions at the time. Our conversation was pleasant and the event was very cordial. Now, with an agenda firmly in hand, the story is changed and distorted. The photoshopped picture is patently dishonest, as are a lot of "facts" in the opposition presentations that have been posted here and in other venues.
    I spent countless hours working with various County entities attempting to place the tower in an area on our 14 acre tract that would minimize the impact on the neighbors. The problem is that most of the parcel is either flood plain or RPA, Resource Protection Area, which precludes any construction within these boundaries BY LAW. Other areas were placed off limits to mitigate tree loss. The site that is currently being proposed is essentially the only place the County will allow this construction.
    Our pool is in constant need of new members as members move or their household changes when children move out. We are an all volunteer organization. At some area pools board members are exempted from paying dues as "compensation" for their efforts. I have the privilege of serving and paying my dues about five months early to ensure there is sufficient cash flow to meet the financial obligations of the pool.
    We have worked tirelessly to ensure the continued operation of the pool. I have been praised, berated, insulted and assaulted, yes assaulted, for my efforts.
    A small portion of the membership does most of the work necessary to open and maintain the pool every year. Others choose to be members and limit their involvement in the functions of the facility to the money they pay in dues. Some complain about "problems" then do nothing to assist in rectifying the situations they identify. We do not exclude these persons or denigrate their lack of commitment, we just do the work at hand.
    As far as I know, all the members of the PCA board have chosen to join pools outside THEIR community. They have voted with their dollars for years. This speaks volumes about their true commitment.
    Our membership is diverse, and has always been for the entirety of my membership and tenure as a member and President of the board of directors. The "exclusivity" that some claim as a reason for not joining is not a function of some attempt to exclude anyone. Many of our members have known each other for years through other associations outside the pool community: school, church, volunteering and as next door neighbors. People naturally gather with those whom they share many associations. Those who claim some nefarious agenda are sorely mistaken, using the above noted human nature to support their own lack of involvement in a facility IN THEIR OWN BACK YARD.

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  17. The attempt to get an income producing cell tower built on private property has never been hidden from the community. These negotiations were undertaken and facilitated by the duly elected board of directors in an effort to ensure the long term survival of the pool. The activities of the board have never been a secret. Brian Dwyer attempted to involve himself in the process when he felt it would directly impact his property. I allowed him to attend a meeting of the board to express his views about 5 years ago. The board meetings are not an open forum, though, and the other members made me aware of this. These types of presentations are acceptable at the General Membership meeting which is held annually and advertised to all members, and even some non-members. Once again, he never attempted to join board in any fashion, while doing so would have given him the ability to state his case repeatedly. This was an active choice which has implications to this day. He knew our intentions, as did many others in the neighborhood adjacent to the pool, but they took no action to influence the proceedings from the inside, as was their right. Anyone who is a member is invited to be on the board. I would gladly have ended my 7 year presidency long ago if anyone else had stepped up and taken responsibility. Few want to deal with the responsibilities, so the board does the best it can with the efforts of those WHO CHOOSE TO BEAR THE BURDENS OF LEADERSHIP. And it is a burden that is added to the everyday work of life: jobs, family and all the other things that tug at our time. If you choose, and you made an active choice in this matter, to not join in these efforts you empower those who are personally involved to do the work as they see fit. Think of it this way. If you, meaning those who are so vociferously protesting now, had joined the pool three or four years ago, and had recruited only one or two additional members, it could have had a major impact on the financial condition of this entity and we might not need this income. You would also have those other members as potential allies in your efforts. But, sadly for your sake, you did not act. Therefore, we, the board, are dealing with a situation you were complicit in creating in the most judicious manner at our disposal.
    Remember the Chrysler ads from the eighties? "Lead, follow, or get out of the way!" Pertinent today, in this situation, and at any time in the history Parklawn Recreation Association.
    Enough said for now, but clearly not the end of this.
    Not Anonymous.
    Kevin Hogan

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  18. If the issue is the money and state of the pool, why not turn its operations over to someone with a fresh view who can recruit new memberships and boost community participation? I've lived in Parklawn for over 5 years and have never been invited to join the pool...

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    1. I keep hearing this upset over not being invited to join the pool. Whether you have or haven't I cannot confirm. I do see invitation signs posted around the neighborhood throughtout the year EVERY YEAR. Why haven't you SOUGHT OUT membership at the pool? There are no victims in Parklawn. Joining the pool is and has always been your option but you've chosen not to do it. If you have issues with existing members or are not their best buddies, then get a group of your own to join the pool en masse. Don't run away elsewhere. Change it in your own hood. This is one of the very reasons a cell tower is needed, to compensate for the lack of support at the pool. GET INVOLVED PEOPLE. Now, if you have more friends elsewhere or just don't like the facilities at the PRA, you're free to go elsewhere. However, don't pee on those that do choose to support the PRA.

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    2. If you think that people are going to flock to join the pool because of a sign or two, you clearly do not understand membership recruiting. And therein lies the rub. If there were PRA people actively seeking members and working to expand the PRA as a business, there would not be a need to put up a tower to bring in money and alienate Parklawn residents in the process. In my last neighborhood there were over 700 residents. The pool had to cap their membership number at 425 for capacity purposes, and there was a waiting list. When they decided to do a membership blitz, they didn't operate on osmosis and fairy dust--they went out and actively recruited families to join, and presented them with a product that was fun, creative, inclusive and lucrative for the association. PRA seems to think that operating in a vacuum is an okay business practice. And I'm sorry, but it doesn't work that way. I am sure that if people knew that the PRA was struggling they would have come together to find another option than a cell tower. I know that I would have been interested in helping to boost the membership, even if I didn't join the pool myself as I am a non-swimmer and with a bit of fear of water. I certainly would have happily involved myself with recruiting new members. But nobody asked for help. Nobody.

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    3. I would like to add that many in the community, if they are home, will not answer their door, proably with good reason since we have had an influx of people tyring to sell home improvements and recently even trying to get residents to attend Queen of Apostles. Nor do they return phone calls; I know that for a fact. I even had someone hang up on me when I was explaining the nature of the call. So, door-to-door solicitation doesn't always work. There are many signs promoting the pool throughout the 'hood with PRA's web address and even signs pointing in the direction of the pool. I know the PRA Board has worked feverishly to attract new members and to retain the current members but in order to attact new members, the pool needs to make improvements which takes money they don't have. Fundraisers have been held with little participation so the best they can hope for is to break even. An Open House at the pool is held every Memorial Day weekend and is highly publicized in the 'hood and nearby communities. This year a different approach was taken because in the past, residents came and enjoyed the pool during the free weekend but very few joined. This year it was by invitation only. Flyers were handed out to new homeowners in the area and to others who it was thought might be interested in joining the pool. PRA's membership team were standing by to welcome potential members to the pool and to answer any questions they might have. Of all the flyers that were handed out, a small percentage of residents attended. The Open House was even extended until the latter part of June to give them a chance to come down and check the pool out. I don't know why comments are being made by residents that they know nothing about the pool and no one has approached them to join. It simply is not true.

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  19. Teton resident, M. Lynch10/23/12, 11:44 PM

    Kevin, I dont think its very becoming nor fair to turn around and blame Parklawn residents for your inability to run a solvent program. I don't think I have heard of one other community pool that is in this type of a bind, and that is disconcerting to me. A good friend of mine has been the president of her pool for 3 years, and they are constantly doing things to raise both money and memberships, and their pool is doing extremely well in a neighborhood that is even smaller than Parklawn. The president doth protest too much.

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  20. Austin Bozarth10/24/12, 12:06 AM

    Please join our pool, we would definitely love to have you there. We want to have a strong and vibrant place where our kids can all get to know each other and the adults can enjoy themselves as well over the summer. You and all of Parklawn, Heywood Glen and Lincolnia Hills are definitely invited and indeed encouraged to join. Consider this your invitation!

    I understand that the Board was already looking to reach out more to the community this spring (Fall and Winter are probably not the best times to discuss pool memberships) so that will help. This sort of activity is hard when everyone on the board is already overloaded with family, work, etc. (remember this is volunteer, not their job) to proactively go out and talk to each person but don't mistake that for the pool being exclusive. I would say that it is by far the most relaxed atmosphere of any pool I have been to. It is also a place where my daughter, who has a terrible degenerative disease, has never been judged, teased or bullied. And trust me, I do not accept the situation where this happens to others for any reason and have never witnessed it or I would have addressed it.

    Please come join our pool and breath new life into our membership, we would love to have your addition to help bring our communities together.

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  21. Teton resident, M. Lynch10/24/12, 12:13 AM

    Austin, thank you for your email/invitation. It feels nice to actually have someone reach out, even in this forum, rather than continue to reinforce real--or perceived--walls. Are you on the pool board? You should be. :)

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  22. John Edwards10/24/12, 9:14 AM

    Austin, thanks for the invitation but thinking about reaching out to the community in the Spring is just a wee bit late to have any impact on the cell tower decision.

    Kevin, as you state the PRA board discussions are not open:

    "The board meetings are not an open forum, though, and the other members made me aware of this. These types of presentations are acceptable at the General Membership meeting which is held annually and advertised to all members, and even some non-members."

    So if the PRA general membership does not attend, then non-PRA members will be even less informed. The argument that it's time consuming is irrelevant.

    PRA has an obligation to inform the community as a whole of their intent to proceed with anything of this magnitude as it affects all of us in a couple of different ways.

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  23. John Edwards10/24/12, 9:18 AM

    Its me again.

    Barbara, please see my other post regarding the location of the tower and its visual impact along Teton Place. Also consider that the value of the properties with this new "view" will go down.

    By the way, this is the kind of discussion that should have occurred long ago.

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  24. Exclusivity or not, the fact that the PRA is willing to approve something with such a negative impact on the immediate neighborhood screams exclusivity! No, my husband and I have not been PRA members since we moved to Parklawn 3 years ago. We've had our reasons but always intended to join once we had children who could enjoy the pool. I was planning to join this coming summer with my son (who will be 1), however if this is something the PRA is willing to move forward with, at the expense of the surrounding pool neighbors, I will take my membership dues and time elsewhere. I will not financially or otherwise support an organization with so much disregard for the neighborhood in which it exists. A community organization should be finding ways to bring the community together, not tear it apart.

    Until this cell tower became an issue, we had no idea the pool was even struggling. Lets start there! Perhaps the community would be willing to support an organization with more outreach and more community involved ideas. I assure you the immediate Parklawn community will no longer support the PRA if a quick fix cell tower is the "only" solution. So lets decide, is it the intent of the PRA to actually involve the community and make the pool a welcoming and inviting place for the ENTIRE neighborhood? Or to be exclusive (which you say you are not) and offend, upset, and negatively impact the pool's neighbors? If you don't care about improving membership and are more concerned with income, then go ahead and install the tower and witness the negative reaction that will occur. If you truly are inclusive and want a thriving pool and community, then lets finally start working together and turn PRA into a successful Parklawn community organization - something members and non-members can both be proud of.

    I'm not here to point fingers and blame this person or that person for the pool's current financial situation. The fact of the matter is, PRA has clearly been struggling for years, with or without the community's awareness and support. The problem wasn't created over night, the solution shouldn't be either. Yes, the revenues from a cell tower would solve this issue, as a simple band-aid over the actual problem, failing membership and community involvement. Is that really the way to fix the problem? So we'd end up with a pool that has enough revenue to survive but still lacks a thriving membership and community support? Yeah, sounds inviting to me! Come on Parklawn and neighbors, lets start being a community and work together.

    And for the record my comments come with a complete willingness to participate and volunteer to make this happen; but not if the PRA isn't willing to support Parklawn.

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    1. Teton resident M. Lynch10/24/12, 2:34 PM

      This is so perfectly put Amanda! Hear hear!

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  25. The people who are making complaints about the cell tower on private property just do not think about what will happen if the pool fails.First thing, who do they think pays to have all the grass cut along the walk way, and the open green space. It is not paid for by the county. Second, if the pool fails to meet its obligations such as its note to the bank, the bank can and will forclose on the property. and nothing will get done. The next step will be the bank will sell the propery to a developer, and then then all the people who are saying their veiws will be obstructed by a pole will have houses behind their homes. Also, these same people have been using the property that belongs to the PRA for their own use.

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    1. Most of the pool land is in a flood plain. Can't build there. There a reserve buffer beyond the flood plain. Can't build there. As someone who has done a complete tear down and rebuilt a house on the crap fill that was left here by the original builders, I know that building on whatever is left will be a very expensive proposition indeed.

      To say that I, since I live on Teton place, have been using PRA property for my own use is really insulting as well as not true. If you believe this, put up fence to keep "us" out.

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    2. Teton resident M. Lynch10/24/12, 2:42 PM

      Okay, first of all, I have never even been down to the pool or used the property and I have serious issues with the cell tower, so don't lump all opposed into your comments please. Second, if the pool had sought help from the community, I KNOW that we would have pulled together to help it out. Didn't anyone consider sharing the situation and asking for assistance? I'm curious as to why not.

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    3. The information is that the flood plan stops at upper fence of the pool, so the land above that is open, with now a day building practices a builder would be able to build on that site.People do use the PRA land personnel use all you need to do is walk the property and look for your self.

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    4. Shoot! I'll take houses behind my house way before a cell tower.

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  26. M. Lynch
    You have no idea of the struggles of running a pool. Your friend may run a pool, but there are many factors that influence the financial viability of these operations. We are, and have been, solvent. We paid our bills, retired a mortgage and took on a new one when the need for repair dictated this action. For you to suggest fiduciary irresponsibility is baseless and insulting. If we were to charge members the amounts needed to fully fund operations and capital improvements we would have no membership. We are one of the most affordable pools in the area, and want it this way so people of all means are able to join. We are subject to the vagaries of the economy as well, a pool membership is not a necessity. I would hope that we are all aware of the state of the nation in an economic sense.
    You, in your complete awareness of all that occurs in this region, fail to note that a pool in Mason District did, in fact, cease operations a number of years ago. There was also a huge article in the Washington Post not long ago, a year or so, that detailed the financial struggles that pools in this region face. We are far from unique in this sense. You are "disconcerted" and pass judgement about things of which you are woefully uninformed. A little research may have been necessary to discover these FACTS. You instead choose to attack me personally before performing the "due diligence" necessary to provide informed responses.
    As I stated in my previous post, we are a volunteer organization. Membership recruitment has always been a priority. We have advertised in local schools, with flyers and personal contact. All these efforts require people to take on these jobs. And, as I also stated, very few members actually get involved in the operation. We are volunteers, and we cannot force others to work on behalf of the facility they have joined. So we, the board and the few who are actively involved, have to try to do these things. All this while actually running the pool, paying the bills and balancing these needs with all the other facets of our lives outside the pool; families, jobs, etc. As I said these burdens are borne by a small subset of the membership. We do the work needed, to the best of our ability, with the resources at hand and do not "protest too loudly" about our situation. These are illustrations of the realities of which many, such as yourself, are unaware. I VOLUNTEERED for this, gladly, to make our pool a place of community. My heart swells when I see the pool full of infants, children, young adults and parents. I delight in the love and laughter that radiates from families spending quality time together. This is stuff that helps kids grow and become caring, decent members of society.

    The biggest factor in our case is the demographic construct of the community surrounding our facility. Parklawn is not a neighborhood of million dollar mansions. Nor are most of the adjacent neighborhoods. We do not have a guaranteed income from the community as do many newer neighborhood pools. When I first moved into Parklawn in 1989 a substantial portion of the residents were original or second owners of the properties. I purchased from a lady who had been there since 1954. These single family, detached homes, in a community that was inside the Beltway, were affordable, in contrast to much of the real estate close by. (Think Lake Barcroft) In a relative sense these homes are still affordable to many. This affordability has allowed the area to progress into a truly multicultural neighborhood. But, the demographic change included many families who had never been members of, or even exposed to, pools such as PRA. It is difficult to portray the benefits to persons who are not familiar with a community based pool. More later,for now, back to my other job. The one that pays my bills.

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    1. Teton resident M. Lynch10/24/12, 2:57 PM

      Kevin, I find you extremely rude on this forum. And if this is how you speak to people who are considering PRA as an option, then I am not surprised that people do not feel welcome. How about just acknowledging that the PRA is --for whatever reason, be it time constraints or workload issues--unable to do an adequate recruiting job. It's not an indictment, its simply an observation. Trying to backpedal out of the mess that PRA has found themselves by blaming a community that has for all intents and purposes been in the dark about the situation is doing more harm than good here.

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    2. Pools all over are struggling around here due to the aging out of residents and the new folks who do not have any idea or inclination about how fun a pool is. Broyhill Crest struggles and has a cell tower that keeps it afloat, other pools struggle - look at Glen Forest.... I have asked the Supervisor to hold a pool round table - still hearing crickets on this. And btw - 2 of the board members of PCA do attend the pool. My family chose another pool bacause the shallow end was better for our little ones and because many of our friends from preschool went there. I had intentions on going to Parklawn Pool when I moved here - I would drive over and look longingly at it... it helped sell me on this neighborhood.

      I truly appreciate all the work the pool board does and I do know there are issues. The PCA made ads for the pool and distributed them in our newsletter and we put flyers in all our welcome packets to new homeowners so they know it is there for them. I have had folks who I sent there - and they didnt like it. I am not trying to attack anyone, but that is a common theme I hear from many folks. We have hosted two events there and all I can say is - I have done my best to support the pool in my role as the Civic Association President.

      I am sorry this situation is happening and that neighbors are angry and years of baggage is coming up here. I do hope that in the end we can come together as a community and work towards buidling community. I truly feel for both sides on this issue. Of all the pools I know, I think Parklawn Pool has very unique things to overcome. Some folks considered snobby, a diverse new demographic that does not swim, aging out population, etc... AND A MAJOR STRIKE: Not many folks attend the base schools. These common areas provide a way to build community. The PCA tried to engage the elementary school and got the door slammed in our face. The middle school has been better.... however it is difficult to build community - without having help from the surrounding organizations.

      Perhaps PRA can address the concerns (the unwelcome feelings people have gotten) and move forward. It is not an attack to say that peole have had this happen when they come. Ok so it has happened... who is giving off the unwelcome vibe - address it and go forward. Tell the membership in a memo that this is a concern brought up. Develop a welcome committee.

      I do know that it is not nice to feel attacked etc...when you are doing ALL THE WORK and everyone else is pointing at you telling you your doing it wrong without lifting a finger to help.
      Is anyone from Heywood Glen reading this - if so I hope you identify that in your notes.

      Mollie Loeffler PCA President

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    3. What does Heywood Glen have to do with Parklawn? Don't they have their own pool?

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    4. No. Heywood Glenn/Lincolnia Hills go to Parklawn Pool. Also Lincolnia Heights, and Barcroft Terrace - all these hoods use parklawn pool. I also know some folks who live in those huge houses off Linolnia Rd. who go to Parklawn pool -
      This is also some of the "issue" with the mixing of folks from so many places - many dont know each other ....

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  27. OMG, stop the bickering, anyone outside of Parklawn that reads these comments are going think we are a bunch of loons!

    To those of you that do not think other pools have had these same issues, not true; many other pools inside the beltway have been faced with this reality and have employed a commercial venture including cell towers to offset M & O costs.

    As for property values declining as a result of a cell tower, watch those values decline if it fronts an abandoned and/or vandalized pool! Additionally, the PRA land can end up in the hands of a speculative developer or in the courts for the next ten years.

    As for those who are not being sensitive to the impact on the nearby properties, think again, you would probably react negatively as well.

    We should all wait to see what ATT has to present before we speculate the worse case scenario and beat each other up unecesarily.

    A process has been set up for a review of the facts. Let the process work and then formulate an opinion regarding the cell tower's appropriateness.

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    1. Do you live on Crater Place, Teton Place, or Tonto Court, or Stanby Court in Heywood Glen, or at the bottom of North Chambliss on the other side of Holmes run? If not, then you may not care what the visual impact is as long as you've got your pool. We who live here get impacted more so than anyone else regardless of which way this turns out. It just would have been nice to be a part of the discussion from the beginning instead of getting caught up halfway through.

      As I stated before, this conversation should have been started years ago and involved *all* affected/interested parties.

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    2. Very well said! Let's wait until Monday before judgment is made. They will have a mockup of the monoplane that will be accurate and will answer everyone's questions then. Your comments are important whether you are for or against the cell tower and will be heard.

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    3. Teton resident, M. Lynch10/24/12, 6:35 PM

      Just curious as to why you refuse to use your name... and I'd love to know where you live.

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    4. Dear Mr. Edwards, and all:

      I have not cast my opinion as yet to whether the cell tower is appropriate or not. But I can tell you this, I despise the look of cell towers in their naked form. Its an ugly reality of having the convenience of a mobile phone. I doubt very much that the majority of folks that have commented on this blog do not own one and can't live without it. Thus, we must all take responsibility and ownership for the existence of these monuments to the spoils of our addiction with technology.

      I believe that the residents in proximity to the pool and the many users of the adjacent park and stream would not like the look and remnants of an abandoned pool site for a lengthy period of time, left to the judgment of the County or the courts as to what to do with the site should the pool go bust. Lake Barcroft fought over this for 10 years until a judge ordered a judgment for the construction of ten out of character oversized McMansions. Because the property had been abandoned and left to decay there were trees growing through the bottom of the pool and the site had become a deposit for junk, and a health and safety hazard. Given the Parklawn Pool' s adjacency to the park, an abandoned pool would attract vagrants, vandalism and unsightly blight for years to come. Agreed a cell tower would certainly not add to the bucolic character of this site or the surroundings, but the alternative could be much worse. Unless some entity or individuals are altruistic enough to endow the pool in perpetuity, the options for PRA are very limited and dour.

      However, as the last person just mentioned let's not pass judgement UNTIL ALL THE FACTS ARE PRESENTED, VETTED AND UNDERSTOOD on Monday, so that our discussions and deliberations are based on fact and not fiction.

      As with the discussion of late notice, if this dialogue had been started in earnest much earlier it would have caused a tremendous outflow of confusing chatter and speculation much sooner and for a much longer period of time. Given the attention this subject has received, the Annandale Blog site would have needed to go public on the Nasdaq to support the server storage demand!

      Regardless, this is the reality of today, let's give the process a chance and let's be open to civil negotiations, compromise and constructive dialogue amongst neighbors and friends. To that end we can only ask and hope for a resolution that compromises little and give us all a bit more solace.

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    5. I don't see any compromise in this situation. It's either yes or no. I vote no!

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  28. Something to think about...... I am an avid cyclist and one of my favorite local places to bike is the Four Mile Run trail off of Columbia Pike going west towards Falls Church. It is also the right of way for the the monstrous transmission towers that carry high voltage electric lines for Dominion Power. These are not camouflaged in any way. However, the mere beauty of the trail, its topography and the natural setting that has been nurtured and allowed to flourish has made this a very desirable destination and location for adjoining neighborhoods, residents, park users, cyclists, joggers, strollers, pedestrians and bird watchers. Who would have ever thought that nature could co-exist so well with technology.

    Let's hope that if PRA and ATT successfully moves forward with this cell tower's imposition on nature that they do it with the same creative solutions, sensitivities and regard for its neighbors, the surroundings and the environment. I suggest if you are not familiar with the Four Mile Run trail that you take a stroll or a bike ride through it before the leaves all fall. It's a testament to a good balance between nature and the demands of expanding energy needs.

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    1. Teton resident, M. Lynch10/25/12, 1:38 AM

      When looking for a house, we consciously steered away from neighbourhoods that had power lines because of health concerns. As a rider, you ride through them at 40 mph, and then go home to an area away from them. Irrespective of how they look and have been maintained, there is a health risk. And something that does not show to be immediate but instead takes 20 years to manifest itself is downright scary. We know very little about the long-term exposure effects of EMF simply because things like cell towers haven't been around long enough to be significantly studied. It's like the whole cigarette thing--it all seemed like a good idea at the time, until everyone started getting cancer from smoking...

      Delete
  29. If you don't want the tower. Give up your cell phones. It's like everything else, you can't have it both ways.

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    1. Teton resident, M. Lynch10/25/12, 12:53 AM

      I live on Teton, and I dont have a cell phone. We have a landline only. So, I think I'm pretty much true to my end of the bargain. Now what would you suggest I do?

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    2. Ok. I'll do it!

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  30. I see signs all over the neighborhhod asking for members. Investing in a pool in my backyard years ago was a great decision.

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  31. I have seen many accusations that the PRA has not kept the Parklawn residents that live close to the site up to speed. I am not sure I understand this allegation as Steve Barrett, who lives in front of one of the sites, has been on the Pool Board for many years so that he can help the board work on this tower issue. Perhaps he has done it just to make sure it would not be in his own backyard, I am not sure. Though, if I lived on Teton and did not want a tower in my backyard, I would have joined the pool board (believe me, they will take anyone who will give their time) and worked hard to recruit people to join the pool so that a tower was never needed. Steve has been on the Pool Board for all of these years and I am shocked to hear that area residents are not aware. It seems to me that Steve has not kept the Parklawn community up to date on this subject if these postings are correct, and as he is a Board Member I do not understand this. Additionally, he should have worked to recruit people from Parklawn years ago to join the pool to greatly reduce the need for a tower. He has been on the board for many years, so I would expect that folks in that area should talk to him as the Board Member representing them on this issue. I also continually hear how long before this issue came up Becky Choi has been badmouthing the pool and telling new people that they need to join other pools. It is very hard to compete with this type of work of mouth campaign and perhaps folks should talk to her about the financial situation as she has driven off members. I am not saying she is at fault for everything and appreciate that she had some sort if issue at the pool 20 years ago, I am just wondering what might have been if she had taken a different path. It is how we handle these sorts situations that often have consequences down the road. I can only imagine if Becky had decided to change the pool for the better and became an active advocate of the pool 20 years ago....

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    1. Teton resident, M. Lynch10/25/12, 1:11 AM

      Can one join the pool board without joining the pool? Because I am not a swimmer, and therefore have no need to have a membership. And I just can't believe that because I didn't join I have sealed my fate as a resident of Teton.

      It's hard to see these anonymous posts as anything of merit when people can't even stand openly behind their words. Sounds like a lot of personal vendettas against Ms. Choi if you ask me. If I am asked to believe that the racism comment above is not true, then I am at liberty to believe that the comments about Ms. Choi aren't true either.

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    2. Why should people who live on Teton be compelled to feel they have to join the pool board let alone being a member? Just so they can help raise funds so they won't put up a cell tower? Why all these derisive comments about Becky Choi. Seems like most pro tower folks are focusing on the wrong thing. Isn't this about a cell tower for the luxury of a pool? That's really what this is about isn't it?

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    3. M. Lynch- No, you cannot join the board as a non-member. For you to ask this suggests some sort of disconnect. Why would dues paying, hard working members allow someone to roll in, with no prior involvement, and be immediately given a position of authority so they can promote their personal agenda? You may speak for a subset of the Parklawn community, but you do not speak for all the residents. There is even a resident of your street, Teton, who is in favor of building the cell tower.
      In response to the second post, from a member of the Anonymous Family that resides somewhere in Parklawn: No one in the entire community is compelled to do anything in regards to the pool. This is part of the reason for the financial difficulties we face. Choosing to not do something (ie., not join the pool that you know exists and is located within the borders of your community) is, in fact, an action. This is a choice many of you in the community have made, year in and year out. All the suggestions that there has been no outreach are just not true. The names presented, myself and Becky, among others, have also made a choice. When you take a stand, and have the courage to step out from the shadows of anonymity, you open yourself up for praise, criticism and verbal abuse, which often comes from those who still dwell in the aforementioned shadows. I commend Becky Choi for her choice to be a leader. The criticism of her actions is not founded in mean-spirited, unwarranted attacks. I jumped in because her statements, as well as her alleged "representation" of the towers appearance, were, and remain patently dishonest. The monopole she photoshopped and placed on this website would be about 300-400 feet tall in the scale she used. This is an attempt to influence others through misrepresentation of facts. The alleged facts placed before the community have no basis in reality at all, period. The alleged facts and pictures are being presented by a person who seems to have an agenda, outside the whole monopole issue, that is generally negative toward the pool in totality.

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    4. Your statement,"Seems like most pro tower folks are focusing on the wrong thing. Isn't this about a cell tower for the luxury of a pool? That's really what this is about isn't it?", displays an arrogance that is, in and of itself, abusive to people who have, for years, worked to keep the pool open. This is absolutely not a luxury. It is, and has always been, about keeping a community asset in operation. It's survival! And that survival or failure will directly impact the property values around the pool more than a monopole, designed to blend into a tree line as much as possible, could ever do. A number of persons, mostly anonymous, like... yourself, question the motivation of the volunteers, some named, like...myself, on an issue that has safety concerns (see my, and others, prior posts) in addition to the whole survival issue. I appreciate the concerns you all have, and, as I have stated repeatedly, that I personally spent hours trying to get the monopole erected in some part of PRA's 14 acre tract that would minimize the impact.
      I care about this area greatly. I have relocated twice in the years since I first moved here with my wife in 1989. Each move, for family growth issues, was less than a mile so that we could stay in this community. Is 17 years of volunteer service to a community asset proof of a connection? I believe it is. As I have said, a lie, distortion or misrepresentation that goes unanswered become the truth to some. I have more institutional knowledge about this situation, its history and the need for this tower than just about anyone. This is not a boast, it is a fact. I have reviewed all my writings on this blog. I can say with certainty that nothing I have presented is in any way factually incorrect or fabricated. My agenda is, and has always been, the survival of a pool that is an integral part of the community. If the pool fails all I have to worry about is where I would take my family to swim. There are plenty of options for swimming in this area other than PRA. Some of these pools are supported by the board members of the Parklawn Civic Association (Forest Hollow). Aren't civic associations about supporting the neighborhood in which you reside? Where is the concern about those who take their pool money out of the community? Why do some complain that they were never personally invited? Activism is not only about protest of situations. It is about taking action and responsibility for the community in which you live. I challenge you all to be more active, and, more importantly less anonymous, in all that occurs in our community. Leadership come with rewards, but, more importantly, great burdens. That is why many choose not to lead. I can take the hits and will always remain involved because I truly care about Parklawn. Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis, means "Always Faithful". Through the good times and the bad we must always remain committed to our community in the manner which we see fit. For, without community, Parklawn is just a bunch of houses.

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    5. Teton resident M. Lynch10/25/12, 3:37 PM

      Kevin, your arrogance is the biggest turn-off I've ever experienced. I was talking joining up with people on the board to solicit memberships, not to 'promote my own personal agenda.' You, sir, are simply an ass. No wonder your beloved PRA is sinking.

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    6. I disagree about your definition of luxury. Pools are a luxury, regardless of their value as a community asset, in that we can exist without them, unlike the necessities food or oxygen.

      Can anyone posting to this extensive comments section definitively state, based on unequivocal facts, that a home's proximity to a monopole will suffer proportionate decrease in property values? This would require a large amount of research of similar cases across the country with an evaluation of the methodology by which values are assessed in the first place. The same goes for the decline/demise of a neighborhood pool - how would the value of nearby homes be affected? What happened at Lake Barcroft? McMansions were ultimately built. How did the demise of the pool and subsequent construction affect nearby values? Food for thought, but there are probably a lot of external factors muddying the waters of such an analysis (e.g. live near a lake! nice homes! good school!, etc.).

      All this being said, it will boil down to an individual decision when it comes time to buy a Parklawn home. Do I want to live in a neighborhood with/without a pool? Do I want to live next to a cell phone monopole? This is where potential negative impacts might be observed most directly.

      I hold no grudges against you and respect the work you do in the community. We are like-minded in this regard. It seems to me that some of the malcontent expressed in these comments arise from failure to communicate over the years, at different levels. I personally would be interested in knowing more of the facts about your involvement in assessing the need for a tower and efforts behind-the-scenes over the years in this regard. The fact that many Parklawn residents did not know the details of these efforts has led to the resentment we see expressed herein. The monopole is the catalyst that accelerated the responses and churned up these other issues concerning the PRA/PCA relationship.

      A few digs have been made at PCA Board members who support other pools outside of Parklawn, but aren't Board members Galway and Zambito members of PRA? Why is that never mentioned when attempting to elicit guilt feelings in Board members who have made a free chocie? I am a former Board member and decided to join Broyhill Crest several years ago (I am now a Board member there), in part, beacuase of negative interactions at the Parklawn Pool both when we tested it out one year and gave it another chance when we joined the next year. So, I am one of those who have a story that speaks to PRA. I have no complaints about not being invited, in fact, we were fairly heavily recruited by a PRA member who subsequently ignored us every time we were at the pool together. Don't think that I didn't say hello. I have also read about flyers being distributed to recruit members, but my wife and I have no recollection of EVER having seen a flyer and we have lived here 12 years. There are many levels of community at the neighborhood level and beyond. I am involved in the greater Annandale and Bailey's Crossroads areas through Boy Scouts and community service projects at elementary schools and churches, so exhorting the readership of this blog to become active participants is preaching to the choir.

      Sincerely,

      Mike

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    7. Mike,
      Thanks for your post. Please share with this group how the mono-pine cell tower is working for Broyhill Crest since you are a board member there.

      I think it would be enlightening considering that your situation at Broyhill Crest is almost identical to ours at Parklawn: a pool is struggling financially due to low membership, teetering one catastrophe away from having to close down, and a cell tower was proposed to provide a financial boost.

      It would great to know how the process went there because I understand that it has been tremendously successful.

      I had the pleasure of meeting your president, Doug Mueller, who said that the cell tower was a great thing for the pool. And in my conversation with this blog's author, Ellie Ashford, who is also a Broyhill Crest member, she added that the cell tower helped keep Broyhill from sliding into demise.

      Neither one mentioned that it was a mighty struggle to get the thing approved and built so I think it would be great to know how it went.

      Especially considering that there are about 12 homes that are in direct line-of-sight of the tower, it would be educational to understand what their involvement was. (This is from my quick zillow.com survey.)

      Mike - can you help us learn more about how it went at Broyhill Crest?

      For me, as a member (or past member) of both the Parklawn Civic Association board and the Parklawn Pool board, I am keenly interested in the well-being of both. I personally have written grants that have won $9000 for the pool and $5000 for the Civic Assocation. These grants have gone toward the neighborhood sign at Braddock and Columbia Pike, the anti-litter signs (a lot of good that does!) and toward two projects at the pool - removing the tennis courts and installing an handicap entrance ramp.

      So you all can appreciate my own personal community involvement: You will often see my wife and me on hikes through the neighborhood with bags of trash picking up litter. On a typical 2.5 mile hike, we'll accumulate over 4 bags of trash! We often will go to Glasgow Middle School after a beautiful day of soccer playing and pick up another 4 to 5 bags of beer cans, water bottles, old socks, McDonald's bags, and even dirty diapers. If we want this neighborhood to thrive, we all need to pitch in.

      Back to the cell tower: I understand this issue very, very well. And I appreciate the concerns. I am personal friends with ALL the players on both sides of this issue (and I truly mean all) and I look forward to a fair, honest, open, and productive dialogue going forward.

      For those that don't know - Mike led the effort to transform the "little triangle" at Summit and Fairfax Parkway into a beautiful flower garden. Mike and I together tilled the soil and got the project started.

      I hope that we can learn some lessons from Broyhill Crest.

      Mike- thanks again for your thoughtful post.

      Daren


      Daren Shumate
      (m) 703-462-4298

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    8. Daren,

      I have been on the BCRC Board for a bit over a year and it has been an enjoyable, positive experience. However, the evaluation and implementation of the monopole preceded my tenure, so others can speak to that process. Sounds like you are already in communication with Doug and Ellie so I am sure that they could provide details.

      My impression thus far is that BCRC and BCCAwork well together and are interdigitated extensively. I have not detected any of the underlying resentment between BCRC and BCCA that is clearly present between PCA and PRA. That is probably your answer right there. If the PRA Board wants to contact Doug Mueller, contact me off-list and we can exchange information (eurytomid [at] gmail [dot] com).

      At this point, I'm not particularly interested in working on PRA's behalf as I still harbor feelings of animosity, although I am working to let them go. I'm only human.

      I much prefer to spend my time planning and planting the little triangle area at Summit and FFx Parkway.

      Yours,

      Mike

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  32. Thanks Mollie!
    From, Both Sides

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  33. Glad to see that Becky is no longer involve with the survey. You might as well ask President Obama to run an election survey :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Teton resident, M. Lynch10/25/12, 1:21 AM

      What an imbecilic remark. I'm pretty sure as to why you didn't put your name to it...

      My concern is the cell tower that is cropping up in my backyard, not your political view. We have no intention of acquiescing on this issue. Remember that.

      Delete
    2. Becky is involved in the survey. So is a PRA rep. Becky should not be attacked for her opinions. She was trying to get feedback - and given all the baggage - it is best to involve both sides.... She speaks for many people. I am working with them all to get feedback. AND - I think it is good that all these comments are happening here so that we can begin the dialogue. Mollie

      Delete
  34. 3 quotes from M. Lynch
    "Kevin, I dont think its very becoming nor fair to turn around and blame Parklawn residents for your inability to run a solvent program. I don't think I have heard of one other community pool that is in this type of a bind, and that is disconcerting to me.
    Response: Lake Barcroft community pool did go out of business.
    Response from one of the Anonymous above:" Lake Barcroft fought over this for 10 years until a judge ordered a judgment for the construction of ten out of character oversized McMansions. Because the property had been abandoned and left to decay there were trees growing through the bottom of the pool and the site had become a deposit for junk, and a health and safety hazard."
    2.Gleaned from the above quote:"your inability to run a solvent program". An indictment, to be sure.
    My response "We are, and have been, solvent. We paid our bills, retired a mortgage and took on a new one when the need for repair dictated this action. For you to suggest fiduciary irresponsibility is baseless and insulting."
    2.Kevin, I find you extremely rude on this forum. And if this is how you speak to people who are considering PRA as an option, then I am not surprised that people do not feel welcome.
    Response: "For you to suggest fiduciary irresponsibility is baseless and insulting." I responded in kind to an attack on your part. You made statements that were COMPLETELY FACTUALLY UNTRUE, about other pools.

    Trying to backpedal out of the mess that PRA has found themselves by blaming a community that has for all intents and purposes been in the dark about the situation is doing more harm than good here.
    First, a few lines from M. Lynch, whose property abuts PRA. "Okay, first of all, I have never even been down to the pool..." Then, " Second, if the pool had sought help from the community, I KNOW that we would have pulled together to help it out."
    My response from an earlier post, "As far as I know, all the members of the PCA board have chosen to join pools outside THEIR community. They have voted with their dollars for years. This speaks volumes about their true commitment."

    If the issue is the money and state of the pool, why not turn its operations over to someone with a fresh view who can recruit new memberships and boost community participation?
    Response: We would love for someone, maybe YOU, to have been involved all along, with "fresh views". I would have gladly relinquished my position to someone who wanted to run the operation. But no one wants the job. Your membership, along with those who take their pool money out of the neighborhood, over the last few years would have made a difference. Instead you suggest we now "find someone" when you have made a choice to not be involved.
    Related restatement from me above: "As far as I know, all the members of the PCA board have chosen to join pools outside THEIR community. They have voted with their dollars for years. This speaks volumes about their true commitment."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Teton resident M. Lynch10/25/12, 3:45 PM

      Kevin, what are you even talking about? I am not involved because I do not swim, and I don't care for water. I said I would happily help out in recruiting memberships, even though I myself am not a member of PRA. Don't try to make me the bad guy here. I am simply looking out for the property value of our recently (within the last few months) purchased home. What a welcome to the neighbourhood! Sheesh.

      Delete
  35. "If you think that people are going to flock to join the pool because of a sign or two, you clearly do not understand membership recruiting." And, "How about just acknowledging that the PRA is --for whatever reason, be it time constraints or workload issues--unable to do an adequate recruiting job. It's not an indictment, its simply an observation.
    Response from another Anonymous.(Question: Is Anonymous a family name in the neighborhood? Are you all related?): "So, door-to-door solicitation doesn't always work. There are many signs promoting the pool throughout the 'hood with PRA's web address and even signs pointing in the direction of the pool. I know the PRA Board has worked feverishly to attract new members and to retain the current members but in order to attact new members, the pool needs to make improvements which takes money they don't have. Fundraisers have been held with little participation so the best they can hope for is to break even. An Open House at the pool is held every Memorial Day weekend and is highly publicized in the 'hood and nearby communities." We placed three 4'X6' signs in the community at places where residents basically had to pass at least one of them on their way in. We hung a sign on the pool fence, facing the parking lot and the trail, with all the relevant information.
    Quote from Amanda Goode: "Until this cell tower became an issue, we had no idea the pool was even struggling. Lets start there! Perhaps the community would be willing to support an organization with more outreach and more community involved ideas."
    Response: We did invite the entirety of the PCA down, and advertised in their no defunct newsletter.(We're not the only Association in the neighborhood with membership problems! LOL) I don't know if any memberships came from the newsletter, but I personally invited PCA board members, and they CHOSE to not join. How are we to overcome this?
    The above quotes show the nature of what we now hear from people who have never wandered down the little road. Or maybe they have, but never came inside. They cannot claim to be unaware of the pools existence, their property adjoins it. Demanding a personal invitation as the only way to get you to join is a little extreme, but was attempted during our open house with PCA. Becky Choi and Molly Loeffler were a part of the group from PCA that attended an open house, and they did, in fact, receive personal invitations to join from me. They chose otherwise. Membership affords information.
    Until about two years ago I personally new the vast majority of the members and their children by name. I have a huge personal investment in this pool, 17 years on the board, and it upsetting to have misinformation spread. I am not one to let these things go unanswered. It's this mindset that landed me in the Presidency in 2005. I spent hours meeting with the County over a number of years to try to minimize the impact of the tower. In May of 2011 I spent at least 100 hours working with other PRA members to remove unsightly, abandoned tennis courts that abutted the trail on PRA property. I was involved in the negotiations with the County when the beautiful trail was built, because it traversed PRA property.
    I'd like to ask M. Lynch: What is the median income and demographic composition of the neighborhood that surrounds your friends pool? Is it equivalent to Parklawn? Is it part of a HOA covenant to be members? Tell us the name of this pool, as I may have had contact with your friend. I have been in an email group of pool board presidents for the last three years that have shared information and commiserated about the struggles we face. As I stated, The County wields the power, we deal with the realities on the ground.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Teton resident, M. Lynch10/25/12, 4:39 PM

      When I was told that this year's pool open house was done by invitation only because during open houses people would come to the pool and enjoy it for the day and then not come back, I was left with a strong impression that PRA operates in an exclusionary manner. Can you see how this would resonate throughout a community? I'm just trying to understand PRA's philosophy I guess...

      Delete
  36. Dear Anonymous,

    Isn't is easy to cast aspersions when you don't have to reveal your identity. I applaud all of the commentary here even though I don't agree with some of it. It takes courage to state your views and be identified with them. Becky has made her views clear and you can address them as Kevin, Barbara, Daren, et.al., have.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Mockups can be very misleading. Like most practical people, I will believe it when I see it, and I don't want to see it!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Dear Mr. Lynch,

    Thank you so much for the compliment on my cycling skills, I am flattered. However, I haven’t biked 40 mph in years and if I did I would have killed someone on the Four Mile Run Trail. I suggest you walk it to understand how technology can co-exist with nature before casting dispersions. Most of the trail is traversed by walkers, dog walkers, joggers, and moms with strollers; and it is heavily used for all sorts of recreation such as fishing, soccer, baseball, tennis, hiking, cycling and farming. It is also quite beautiful, safe, clean and cherished by its visitors.

    As for the scare of technological fallout, everything we do in life is a risk: riding a bike, driving, using a cell phone, operating a microwave, flying on a jet plane, etc……..heck even getting married! If one needs to feel completely insulated from all of these then one needs to live somewhere in the desert but hence, I warn you that solar gamma and UV rays can kill! We cannot avoid natures’ harm or technology, we just need to be smart as to how its used and be prudent on judgments regarding the misuse of these technologies.

    Look, I am no expert on high, med and low frequency radio waves and don't pretend to be. Nor am I a fan of cell towers or take your concerns lightly. However, they have become a necessary part of our lives and therefore we must hold the folks accountable for their construction to uphold these towers to the most prudent and stringent requirements to make these safe and hazard free while accommodating the environment and minimizing their intrusiveness on humans, flora and fauna.

    At one point microwave ovens were speculated to give people cancer, and I have not heard of a case yet where the proper use of a MW oven has given anyone cancer. I have been cycling on trails with high tension power lines since 1988 and I am fit as a fiddle. I can tell you this though; the professional stress at my job has been more dangerous to my health than any perceived threat by power lines!

    Unfortunately, many hazardous issues perceived and real are part of our daily lives; we cannot avoid many of these. We just need to be sensible and educated on the facts before we cast doubt on our ability to co-exist with these technologies that we have become so dependent on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Teton resident M. Lynch10/25/12, 3:55 PM

      Regarding the health risks, I have yet to find a study that says prolonged exposure to cell towers doesn't cause cancer. It's a big risk to take for those of us who live in the shadow of this proposed thing. I would rather the Prevention Principle be in effect than find that in 20 years we are all sick from it.

      Delete
    2. Dear Anonymous,

      I agree with you that living is risky. However, we can choose the level of risk that is acceptable to each of us individually. If one did not want to have a cell phone tower built behind his/her house, then he/she could choose to resist that effort because the level of risk accompanying the cell tower is unacceptable to him/her. Does that indicate his/her need to feel totally insulated from risk? No. I'm sure that they likely choose to drive an automobile, etc. as you mention.

      Mike Gates

      Delete
  39. Austin Bozarth10/25/12, 11:27 AM

    OK, I started responding to a couple of items and changed my mind. I would like to suggest that this conversation has run its course and we are best served by stopping the posts and having a good conversation with AT&T on Monday. There are great points on both sides and I do believe that all want to do the best for our community, so let's stop posting and get together to talk in person.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Hi All, it's me again!

    I just wanted to say to those of you who ask "Why have you not gotten involved with the pool?" Well, I am not now, nor have I ever been, one to frequent a pool. Just ask my kids (grown now) and spouse. This obviously means that I'm not going to pay much attention to the signs posted around the neighborhood to join PRA. Nor am I likely to join the PRA board just to keep a finger on the pulse of PRA.

    This is important so pay attention now ... I am probably not the only one.

    This means that I don't interfere in PRA doings unless there is going to be an impact on our community. A cell tower on PRA property is a big impact on our neighborhood.

    This brings me back to what I believe is a responsibility of PRA to inform or involve the Parklawn neighborhood when PRA considers something of this magnitude. Because, like it or not, this decision impacts us all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John
      You have been informed. This meeting is to perform that function. All the negotiations with AT&T to this point have been preliminary. T-Mobile was the first company to try to use our site. They were negated in their efforts by the County and never tried again. Now that AT&T is in the comment phase it is appropriate to present this to the community. Prior to this it would have been counterproductive to do so.

      Delete
  41. Austin Bozarth10/25/12, 12:48 PM

    John - Thank you for clarifying your intent as to becoming a member of the community pool. Given that, I would suggest that you build a relationship with your close neighbor Steve Barrett who is on the Board to stay on top of issues which may concern you. I am not sure how the Parklawn neighborhood organization is structured, but the community pool is lucky to have great folks from Parklawn on the board that I believe represent each of the sides of this issue. I am not on the board and do not live in Parklawn, so it is not my place to dictate how the community should receive information from the pool board. I might suggest that the Parklawn community identify a member of the pool to join the board (assuming you do not feel you have that representation today) who would communicate relevant information back out to the community. This tower issue has been going on for 8 years, so I must assume that the communication lines are not working as well as they might in the affected area for some reason or another (and this is not something that needs to be worked out here, so no posts please). The pool serves many communities, so I would suggest that it is the individual community that should get involved to make sure they are getting proper input and communication. I do believe that Parklawn has the best representation and communication of any of the neighborhoods, but I cannot speak to how the Parklawn community communicates within itself. Does that help?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Austin,

      I can tell you that we the civic association have done many things in the neighborhood to help build community, won grants, etc.... and our board much like the pool board is tired. We communicate through a yahoogroup and email list. We did have a newsletter but I personally got tired of doing all the work to get it printed and we have 675 homes and few volunteers to distribute the newsletter. So we stopped doing it about a year ago I think. But as you read - we do advertise for the pool.

      If the pool has something to say they can always (and have in the past) send info to me to distribute. Stephanie usually will do this. I do agree with you that we should meet Monday. I also believe that this is now the opportunity to work to build bridges and figure out why some folks have bad feelings towards the pool. I personally would like to know how many Heywood Glen folks go to the pool. What neighborhood are you in? I don't see why lots of finger pointing is headed towards all PARKLAWN as Heywood Glen, Lincolnia Hills, LIncolnia Heights, Barcroft Terrace and the RIdges of Alexandria neighbors ALL could be at the pool. We have many neighborhoods to draw from.

      I say we stay on focus of the cell tower issue. Then we address and communicate with each other on the underlying issues with the pool t.
      I have reached out to a pool board member (or former member)and said that I would be happy to host a forum on addressing and brainstorming about the issues at the pool that as you can see - are deep seeded here and even outweighing the cell tower comments.

      Please email me if you want to be on our email list: parklawncivic@gmail.com
      Tks
      Mollie (PCA President)

      Delete
  42. Dear Friends,

    Any individual reading this blog outside of Parklawn would take from the crossfire of these heated comments an unsettling impression of the Parklawn Community and the Parklawn Pool (PRA).

    To those readers let me set you straight. Parklawn is a great place to live because our community is robust and made up of caring individuals, some of which hold strong opinions and passions about their homesteads. We are very committed to the sustained quality of life in our community; we were there for each other during the 2010 snow storm, the June 2012 derecho, neighborhood clean ups, community get togethers and the improvement of our common areas. Without our energy and perseverance we would not be the unique community that we are today. How many communities can boast that their school has been visited by two presidential first ladies……..not many if any, but Parklawn stands proud to say we have had the privilege of those very special visits. How many communities make it over 50 and get better with age? PARKLAWN!

    We are most fortunate because we look out for each other. We keep our streets safe by our dedicated neighborhood watch teams, our common areas are maintained by a dedicated Parklawn Improvement Committee (PIC); we have a dedicated Parklawn Civic Association (PCA) lead by a President and a Vice President who tends to the civic affairs of our community as if it was family; and we have the Parklawn Recreation Association (PRA) that has been the steadfast custodian of a pool that rose from the floods of Hurricane Agnes in 1974. They have worked relentlessly to keep the pool and the grounds as hallmarks of their commitment to the community. Parklawn has always persevered and despite this current discussion we have an endless sense of community that will get us through these moments of challenge and controversy.

    Are we perfect? Maybe not, but we are pretty darn close! Our community is strong. We will meet the challenges of change as we prepare for these challenges, while heeding to our diversity, preserving our past and planning for the future. We will do that with civility and respect for each other’s uniqueness, hard work, values and dedication to our most precious commonality, and that is the Parklawn Community.

    Sincerely,
    Richard C. Zambito,
    VP of Parklawn Civic Association (PCA)
    www.parklawncommunity.org

    ReplyDelete
  43. Several points. Many of us reply as anonymous because we cant figure out how to use the "Comment as" option. It's not because we are truly anonymous.

    Secondly, many of us live in the Heywood Glen/Lincolnia Hills communities and have belonged to the pool and been active members for many years--we are actually closer to the park and the pool than many in the Parklawn community.

    Third, I have a friend who had problems selling a house overlooking the formerly "abandoned" tennis courts--which thanks to active PRA members got a grant to take down. Prospective buyers were tuned off and pointed it out during open houses. Abandoned property equates to a lower property assessment and the check-off "declining neighborhood" on your property assessment (yes, this has happened in our neighborhood).
    Finally, many people like good cell service in the neighborhood where they live, as many people no longer have landlines--and our cell service is awful--especially in the park and homes in the lower part of the community. There are cell towers in upper parts of our neighborhood already and nearby. This is nothing new--and not a health issue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Hmm. I'm not buying your apologist stance as a representative of anonymous posters claiming you cannot figure out how to use a pull-down menu? Do you think posters here will believe this?

      Mike

      Delete
    2. Teton resident M. Lynch10/26/12, 10:48 AM

      Well, then how about putting the cell tower over there on the Heywood Glen/tennis courts side of the pool? If you want better service, then it would be perfect. It sounds like a win-win situation there: the pool gets their tower, you get your service, and those of us up on Teton don't have it in our backyards.

      ~apparently smart enough to figure out the dropdown menu~
      ~m.

      Delete
    3. Austin Bozarth10/26/12, 11:48 AM

      M. - In talking to the folks this morning, it appears that the site you are referring to puts the pole in Becky Choi's backyard, so I understand that we have the same issue.

      Delete
    4. M. Lynch
      This site was actively promoted to the County, and one division believed it to be usable. The site was then eliminated for the following reasons. 1. No road to the area and one could not be constructed on the flood plain. 2. It would have required additional power poles, and, once again, the County would not allow it. I hope this helps

      Delete
  44. Virtually every community pool in the Mason District would benefit from more income than simply breaking even. Even pools you may consider "rich" are struggling. Sleepy Hollow Recreation Association (SHRA) applied for a Fairfax County NEPP Grant the same year the PRA and PCA did. The pool next to SHRA, Sleepy Hollow Bath and Racquet for the first time in decades had available memberships this year.

    Community pools are wonderful AND a luxury. There are numerous, significant cost associated with maintaining a community pool, compounded by a prolonged economic downturn and a community in transition in which not all residents value a summer at the pool.

    My family was a member of the PRA for 3 years and paid Family Membership Fees. We joined another pool 2 years ago because the majority of our family friends & my daughter's friends belonged to that pool. Our reasons are our own and are valid and do not need to be justified or defended to anyone.

    The PCA and the PRA should have no animosity between them AT ALL. Period. We are all working together to create a safe, vibrant and economically stable place for all of us to live.

    If the PRA was approached with an opportunity to generate a consistent annual income, they had a duty to their members to explore that opportunity.

    NOTE: Public exposure to radio waves from cell phone tower antennas is slight for several reasons. The power levels are relatively low, the antennas are mounted at high above ground level, and the signals are transmitted intermittently, rather than constantly."

    This quote is from The American Cancer Society. You can read the entire position paper at http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/cellular-phone-towers

    Individuals who serve on the boards of community organizations do so at great personal expense. They spend hundreds of hours a year doing the best they can to serve as many people as they can to the best of their ability. They sacrifice dinners, family time, sleep and many weekends and are rarely if ever thanked.

    None one should expect someone else to do everything for them. Even a newsletter delivered to your front door may not be read – just take a look at all The Washington Examiners in driveways and all the resident has to do is make one phone call to stop delivery. But that is apparently too much to do.

    Concerned citizens take initiative to stay informed about the community around them. They join their local civic association and regularly check:

    Mason District Government Web Site
    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/mason/
    where you can search for "construction" or whatever other hot button issue you may have

    Heywood Glen / Lincolnia Hills blog
    http://lhhgblog.org/

    Parklawn Civic Association web site
    http://www.parklawncommunity.com/

    Parklawn Pool
    www.parklawnpool.com

    and subscribe to local blogs such as this one.

    I am not advocating for or against the cell phone tower. I am only encouraging everyone to understand the facts and treat each other with respect. I am enormously saddened by the level of vitriol in these comments. I hope that during the 2 meetings at Glasgow Middle School on Monday, October 29, my 7-year old daughter will witness a community coming together, treating each other with respect, allowing each individual to make their comment without interruption and practicing the art of compromise.

    ReplyDelete
  45. It seems to me that it does not matter who you are, be it a PRA board member or a Parklawn resident, if you won't be directly affected by the tower, that is if you won't see it from your house, and feel your health threatened by it, you should have NO SAY IN THE MATTER.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If the cell tower goes in, then property values will go down for those of us in the immediate vacinity. This will also affect home values in Parklawn and the surrounding neighborhoods.

      If the pool fails, the same occurs.

      So it's not so easy as that.

      Delete
  46. All:
    The AT&T public meeting has been RESCHEDULED due to the storm.

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012, Glasgow School, 7:00 p.m.


    Daren

    ReplyDelete
  47. John Kennedy10/30/12, 11:44 PM

    First, let me just say real quick that I, for one, am in awe of how hard Kevin and Daren have worked for us for so many years. I hardly know them, and I'm not on the Board, but I have a lot of insight on this. Those two worked both smart and hard and their job was thankless. There are a couple others who worked very hard on that Board, too, but Kevin and Daren come to mind as standouts. They suffered in ways most of us will never fully know because they aren't the type to trumpet their contributions. They took on grueling projects year after year when nobody else would step forward. I know this and wanted to share it.

    Regarding the tower, I notice we've fallen into believing there are only two possible outcomes. "Either the tower goes up or the pool dies." That's a false premise. There are other ways to raise $2,000 per month year round. I won't be affected either way, but I do feel bad for those who live near it, and I believe this can be avoided.

    In my opinion, we should shift our fundraising focus away from labor-intensive events that are long on preparation but result in a net gain of perhaps $200. Given our budgetary situation, that's like trying to fight a house fire with a squirt gun.

    Let's get out the hoses. I have lots of specific ideas. For one thing, we should be asking all realtors in our neighborhood to donate a 1-year free membership to new residents anytime we (Parklawn Pool members) refer them a client. That could increase membership dramatically (I see dozens of For Sale signs), and many of those would stay for years or decades. My wife is a realtor and would be happy to contribute to the pool in this manner. I doubt she's the only one. It doesn't have to be limited to one industry/profession, either. I've got more to say, but I'll shut up now. Let me know if you think I'm on to something.

    ReplyDelete
  48. John,

    You ARE onto something and these kinds of ideas are what we can all get behind together. I love your realtor idea. The ideas below involve labor that people are willing to provide.

    The community wants to contribute to supporting the pool - these are some of the offers and suggestions (that include the time and labor to get them done) that have been made:

    construction materials for (donated)

    labor to rebuild structures (in exchange for a membership)

    landscaping services (in exchange for a membership)

    create a 9 month dog park that is in use in the play area when the pool is closed (fee involved for upkeep, consider a separate "dog park" membership that allows for only use of the dog park),

    movie nights (minimal fee for non-members),

    basic rock climbing instruction by a volunteer (put small holds on existing structures and limit type of climbing to "bouldering" with pads underneath)

    fundraising by soliciting individuals for larger amounts for the necessary capital expenditures (capital campaigns, not assessments ) - to include a donor recognition wall

    create a sustaining membership category that specifically is devoted to members who contribute large amounts ($500/1000 or who put PRA in their will (recognition on donor/sustaining member wall) NOTE: current sustaining membership is defined as a member who gives $50 or more above the membership dues)

    debt retirement efforts (culminating with a "loan document burning" at the end)

    social events (there is someone willing to be a social coordinator) to make the PRA a place people gather and to attract members - potlucks, etc.

    Continued in next post.....

    ReplyDelete
  49. This list continues:

    dance instruction on the deck - by volunteers (small fee) - this could go on when the pool is officially closed but the facility could still be used

    game nights on the deck (small fee for nonmember guests)

    music nights (open to the public to attract members)

    memberships - there are people, myself included, that expressed to the PRA leadership that they would join the pool if the tower were taken off the table.

    membership contests - get members or non-members involved in a contest to get members - have to have the WIIFM (what's in it for me) ready to tell people why the PRA is a good investment in the community. Prizes can be donated - i.e., I have rewards points that could be used to obtain prizes like iPods, etc.

    These offers, made in various formats, have been around for about three years.

    The PRA has an open capacity of approximately 176 memberships of the 350 they allow, as stated at the 9-11-12 meeting. Any combination of the below numbers could net some immediate cash and ongoing revenue with an engaged membership/community:

    If we were to find 176 seniors to join at the senior rate of $175, that is $30,800, per year;

    176 people at the single rate of $230 is $40,480 per year;

    176 two person memberships is $300 the first year they join - that's $52,800 per year ($350 per year thereafter is $61,600);

    176 family memberships at a rate of $525 for the first year is $92,400 ($575 per year thereafter is $101,200).

    Of the 1000+ homes represented by Parklawn, Lincolnia Hills and Heywood Glen, I bet we could find 176 memberships. We certainly have that number of people stirred up. I personally have offered and will offer again to contribute $1000/year for a family membership if the tower is put to rest for good. I am also willing to spend the time to find the rest of those memberships.

    I have offered to go to the mat for the pool even though I am not a member. In the past, I solicited bids for the pool to remove the dilapidated tennis courts before they arranged to have them removed by one of the telecom companies (if I am not mistaken).

    I am still willing to devote as much energy in supporting the pool and helping it obtain and sustain it's membership and do what it needs to do for upkeep, etc. I'd love to see us in the same position as the Dowden Terrace Pool across Holmes Run from the Parklawn Pool: a community-wide asset with a waiting list for membership!

    The offers are there, can we make it happen?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Austin Bozarth11/2/12, 1:39 PM

      Becky and John,

      Thank you for all of the ideas. I hope that some of these will help us in the future as the Cell Tower is definitely not enough to make this the community pool we all want to have. I do want to note that we still need the cell tower to address the coverage issue in our neighborhoods regardless of the pool financing issue and from what I have seen, no one disputes that service is bad in the park and in parts of our neighborhood. As a homeowner I have been pushing AT&T to resolve this coverage issue for 12 years and the only way to do this is to put a tower at the pool since it cannot reside I the floodzone.
      I would not portray pool fundraising as an "easy" task that will solve the pools issues, I note that the pool board has spent a ton of time/effort discussing and trying many of these approaches over the years and it is tough to compete with people’s financial priorities. For instance I have a daughter with a rare, incurable, devastating disease, and as such my family’s financial priority is to raise funds to discover a treatment/cure. One would think that our scenario makes fundraising easy (who would not want to give to save children), but it is still a challenge, especially in this economy. We only run big fundraisers once every two years because we have learned cannot tap your supporters too often as they burn out quickly. I really do not see a scenario where the community is going to dig into their pockets year in and year out to "save" the community pool from a charity or fund raising standpoint. We have too many things that already tap us, Parklawn Elementary, Girl Scouts, the local high school, our charitable priorities, etc. etc. etc.
      I do not believe that a sustainer approach is feasible. People have other financial priorities which would come long before supporting a neighborhood pool they don’t use and I think that less than a handful of people would even seriously consider (much less become a sustainer) such an approach. I have seen this approach brought up by one or two people but I have not seen the community stand up and voice their support for such an approach as the people suggesting it have done so for years without ever donating money to the pool. I am happy to have a family membership as I enjoy meeting people from our various neighborhoods and the pool is the one place in our community where our children really get together as all of the various school options (county, city, public, magnet, private) really break our “community” apart. On my street alone I know of elementary school kids going to 5 different types of schools, which makes it difficult to get to know everyone well. While this makes our community very diverse, it also makes it VERY difficult to get folks aligned to do something like support the pool.
      This tower has been in the works for many years now with folks in the affected area on the board to better steer this. Perhaps 8 years ago if you and the neighborhoods had come together to join the pool and make that an integral part of the community we would not be having this discussion, however the tower would still need to go in to resolve the connectivity issues and I am not sure where else it would go. At this point the pool needs the funds to perform maintenance and the tower is the only viable solution in the short to mid term.

      (To Be Continued)

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    2. John Kennedy11/2/12, 4:51 PM

      Austin, amen on your point about fundraising, and that's exactly what I like about my suggestion. With realtors donating a portion of their commission to give new residents a 1-year pass, no member of our community would have to donate ONE PENNY. Nor even one minute of labor. Only the neighborhood realtors would work, and yet the pool would gain thousands throughout the year (I'm basing this on the dozens of For Sale signs I see every year, which equate to dozens of missed new member opportunities slipping through our fingers). This way, everybody wins. Perhaps just like you said, maybe we should institute this regardless of whether the tower goes up. I can't think of a downside.

      And from experience, I'm convinced you're right about donors getting burned out, which is why I think it's wiser for us to move away from several piecemeal events that are full of sound and fury and symbolize a gain of peanuts. Misguided effort. At best, people will pay attention to pool fundraising messages once or twice per summer, so to waste those precious, attentive moments on chasing such tiny gains is in my opinion the costliest mistake we tend to make. And I agree with you that we can't depend on sustainers or donors. Again, that's what I like about incorporating the realtors, giving them a stake in it, and consider tapping into other industries, too, not just realtors.

      I've heard about phone connectivity problems, but I wasn't sure if that situation was improving, getting worse, or what. I was thinking the technological gains in the phones' receptors might have been solving that problem to some degree. My phone seems to work OK down there, so I'll leave it to the rest of you to sort that part out.

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    3. Austin Bozarth11/5/12, 8:53 AM

      Here is remainder of my post :)

      I have seen the AT&T mock-ups which were done to proper scale and using a pole designed to look like a tree (don't worry, everyone will see them on Wednesday). It will look nothing like the mock ups and will certainly look much better than the utility poles that run the electric wires throughout our neighborhoods. In fact, I very much doubt that a perspective buyer will notice the pole after driving by the countless electric utility poles which have not been designed to look nice and are a major detractor given that a prospective buyer knows that they can count on power outages should the buy a home with above ground power. Especially given the three major events this summer which caused our home to lose power for several days twice. In fact we lost cell coverage each time and I believe that this pole would have allowed us to keep our connection to the outside world as we had zero phone service. I think that the AT&T presentation will provide a much better understanding of the value, risks and looks of the pole than this forum can without the proper illustrations of what is being proposed. I look forward to meeting you all Wednesday to see the AT&T presentation and discuss this further!
      Thanks,
      Austin

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  50. Teton resident M. Lynch11/2/12, 12:39 PM

    These are great ideas! I love the idea of working together with the pool to help make the PRA not only profitable, but an integral part of our community as well. Thanks John Kennedy and Becky Choi!

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    1. Austin Bozarth11/7/12, 12:14 AM

      I think it is a fair clarification to say that the pool is not looking to be, nor will it ever be (or should be for that manner) a "profitable" organization. I just wanted to dispel that perception as it is not a "for profit" organization.

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    2. Teton resident, M. Lynch11/7/12, 9:51 PM

      Well, then let me rephrase it from 'profitable' to 'operating in the black.'

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    3. How about adequately capitalized to fund upkeep and improvements? As stated before, we have "operated in the black" by paying our obligations every year. But, every year, there is some repair that keeps PRA from being able to save money for the future or for capital improvements. When you start a season you have a fixed cost for lifeguard services, by contract, but all other expenses are estimates based on prior years experience. You also have the unknown membership size, which we have worked to increase, but is not fixed, that you then multiply by the membership type to give you the operating budget for the year. All the variables make it difficult, at best, to forecast the financial situation that is faced annually. The Board has worked diligently to make these numbers align, but it is not simple. There is also the limitations of the pool size. As noted by Becky Choi, there are a total of 350 memberships available. That number, if actually reached, would lead to a less than great experience for all involved because there would be too many people present at peak usage times for the facility to handle. Wall to wall people doesn't leave space to swim. I believe the pool would be stressed during peak times at 250 memberships, depending on the composition; ie. single adult, family, etc. We also face another dilemma in people trying to "game the system" on memberships by having multiple families, as clearly defined in our bylaws, attend on one membership. One opposition speaker last night is a prime example of this. Their parent has a membership and they attend without paying their required family dues. We understand they are a young family who might not be able to afford their own membership. But they do this and it costs the pool revenue that is badly needed. When confronted with this reality they tend to argue that the cost is too great or that "others" do the same thing, so why should they pay. One "family", who left this year, had at least four "family units" by the pool definition who were attending on a single family membership. When confronted they accused the board of false advertising, bait and switch, and any other pseudo legalese they could think of to divert attention from their clear violation of the rules. They were long time members whose children started families and thought they were entitled to keep coming without paying their fair share.
      I, like Daren, was the beneficiary of a Realtor funded (Jan Collins) membership for one year. But back then there were far fewer Realtors who worked this area and Jan was the only one who provided this benefit, as far as I know. She lived in Parklawn and her daughters were all on the swim team. She did a lot to keep the pool viable during the 90's, and got the lion's share of the listings in the immediate vicinity. My point is that Realtors who do not reside here will probably not be interested in giving away a part of their commission to fund these memberships. Additionally, there is no system that would alert listing agents to this program if it were implemented. Not trying to be a naysayer, just pointing to the reality of today's incredibly diffuse real estate market.

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  51. My family became members when I bought my home in 1999 and Jan Collins paid for the membership as a "bonus" for using her to sell and buy a home.


    Daren

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  52. Austin Bozarth11/7/12, 12:18 AM

    Tonight I bought a T-Mobile hotspot that I need to use when at the hospital each week so I can work and my daughter can watch videos. I brought it home and found that I could not set it up. Upon calling T-Mobile, I was told that my address does not have adequate coverage for their network and that I should just return it. This is rediculous as we live inside the beltway. I guess we will go another week without connectivity. As I am writing this, I am also looking at my AT&T phone which also only has one bar of connectivity (which I am sure those of you who have called me on my cell phone when I am home can attest). I just had to rant as it was VERY disappointing that our coverage is so bad that carriers such as T-Mobile will just tell me to return their product immediately once I tell them where I live.

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    1. I'm pretty sure this isn't all about you. Get a land line. Use your cell where you get a signal, but use your land line at your house.

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  53. Hello everyone. I would especially like to thank M. Lynch for the kind words above, you are truly eloquent. A vital piece of information has been missing from all of the posts so far. Over the summer a resident of Teton Court decided to improve the view from their back yard. To do this they trespassed on PRA property and clear cut an area, the exact size of which will be determined tomorrow, and cut off a substantial portion of one other tree which is about 60 feet tall. They then dumped all of their cuttings down the hill adjacent to our road, just above the switchback. The size of their destruction is somewhat invisible from the road. I climbed to this area today. The area is substantial and I have some great pictures to share. Additionally, they dumped a large quantity of dirt and debris on PRA property. They did not ask PRA for permission before undertaking this extraordinary destruction. This trespassing was a criminal act at the least. The size of the area cleared may be in violation of the Chesapeake Bay Ordinances, which require a Major Site Plan review and approval by the County and other governmental agencies before any such activities can commence. That may be a Federal issue. The County will be notified of this tomorrow. The true irony of the situation is this individual brought a picture of an owl, taken from their yard, to a board meeting years ago and stated that we should not build the cell tower to protect wildlife. They then denuded property to which they have no claim, and created the situation which they were opposing when it was not in their interest. AMAZING. This is a great example of the hypocritical nature of some who oppose this issue. There is a member of the PCA board who is a member of the Broyhill Crest Rec. Assn. board of directors (another pool, outside Parklawn) which has a cell tower on the property, but does not want the monopole at PRA, even though they will not be able to see it from their home. Really? Broyhill Crest's monopole is in the middle of a neighborhood, more so than PRA's would be. I haven't heard of the property values there being decimated like those who complained so vocally last night claimed theirs would be. Finally, I want to highlight the fact that the monopole at Bailey's Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department provides income to that entity. This money is used to provide equipment and funds for debt service for your safety on a daily basis. This is another instance of cell tower money being used for the public good, as PRA wishes to do. Thank you to all who attended last night.

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    1. Kevin,

      Nice, more name calling. Please get your facts straight.

      1) I am not a member of the PCA board. Check the PCA website, it's pretty easy to do.

      2) You "haven't heard" of property value being decimated in Broyhill Crest? Sounds like the results of another careful analysis, just like determining my status as a PCA Board member. No one knows one way or the other because no one has, or likely will, do this type of analysis.

      3) You insinuate that I would have been in favor of a monopole in Broyhill Crest when it was under consideration (IF I had been a BCRC member and IF I had lived in Broyhill Crest at that time). You don't know me, my history, or my motivations, publicized or not, for the PRA monopole or any other. Keep your judgements and suggestions of hypocrisy to yourself.

      4) I joined BCRC in spite of the presence of the monopole, for valid reasons that are my own.

      5) This venue is a fine way to blow off steam, but does little to resist monopole installation, thus could be considered a waste of valuable energy better spent elsewhere. I suggest those that would like to try to impact the process contact either Ed Donohue or the county Department of Planning and Zoning (see below) to obtain the name of the staffer assigned to this case and discuss how to submit feedback to supplement any review meetings open to the public.

      Ed Donohue
      EDonohue@DonohueStearns.com
      801 N Fairfax Street, #209
      Alexandria, VA 22314
      (703) 549-1123

      DPZ Planning Division
      7th Floor, Suite 730 Herrity Building
      Phone: 703-324-1380 Fax: 703-324-3056
      Email: dpzpd@fairfaxcounty.gov

      Sincerely,

      Mike Gates

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    2. YOU, Kevin, might want to get YOUR facts straight before you go making accusations. No one likes to eat crow. Just sayin'...

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  54. I am pretty sure this isn't all about you. Get a land line. Use your cell where you get a signal, but use your land line at your house.

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  55. It is not about me at all. It is about the pool. I state these FACTS to refute the baseless and incorrect statements of those in opposition. One pole, designed to look like a tree, has nowhere near the visual impact of the poles and wires that line Crater Place and Teton Court, and will be substantially farther from any residence than the aforementioned utility poles. Work with FACTS, not heresay and innuendo. Once again, what if someone exercising on the trail is injured or has a heart attack and cannot summon help via cellphone? Is the opposition going to be at a funeral to help the grieving? It might even be one of your group who uses the trail. Real issue, no coverage. Just the facts

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    1. Teton resident M. Lynch11/9/12, 3:26 PM

      It is Teton Place. Thank you.

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    2. Mike, were you ever on the PCA board? I thought I heard this at some point. You go to a pool that benefits from a cell tower but want to deny us that right on our property. What about all the other incorrect facts M. Lynch and others have presented that were shown to be wrong? Where is the retraction? Yes, I am not completely correct, and I accept that. But, from the start, the opposition has been insulting PRA's board and making statements that have no basis in fact. To quote your friend above, "I'm just sayin'..." Read the posts, get the big picture on the important facts, like your neighbor trespassing on PRA property and clearing our land to improve their view and dumping on private property.

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    3. i am pretty sure that the 'trespassing' was permitted by a PRA board member, as was the clearing. maybe you should take it up with the people on YOUR board, kevin.

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    4. Teton resident, M. Lynch11/10/12, 1:16 PM

      Kevin, could you please let me know what incorrect facts I have presented? Thank you.

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  56. John Kennedy11/9/12, 12:39 PM

    Actually, our particular "realtor referral" suggestion would be extremely easy for the Board to implement, self-perpetuating, and self-enforcing, regardless of the diffuse market. It would improve on Jan Collins's excellent plan in several ways, for example by making several local realtors compete for the pool's referals, and also capturing donations even for sales that happen as far away as Rockville. Why forgo that?

    I've kept it brief to avoid steering this conversation off topic, but it does directly relate to how we can raise revenue to cover the pool's costs. The revenue stream would be so steady and large and require so little work.

    I'd be happy to explain the idea to anyone. I can explain how I would implement it. We can talk offline. I'm jeepkennedy@gmail.com

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    1. Just curious, but how many referrals in the past couple of years has your wife received from Parklawn residents?? Wouldn't it be a better idea for the realtors to donate a free PRA membership to all homebuyers in our neighborhood(s) regardless if they were referred by a PRA member or not?

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    2. John Kennedy11/10/12, 9:49 PM

      None. She does not actively pursue business down at the pool. She goes there just to relax. Why do you ask?

      By the way, our idea is simply to make realtors compete for Parklawn Pool referrals. It's this enormous untapped resource. My wife could care less if she gets a single referral as a result. Even if our program is launched and 100% of the resulting referrals go ONLY to Brad Wisely, we'll celebrate with champagne and dancing, because finally the pool will have actualized this incredibly huge, untapped resource that has been sitting under its nose for years.

      Regarding your idea of asking for yet more, because you feel "it would be better," I suppose you could run that by all the neighborhood realtors, but I'm not sure asking for outright philanthropy is a realistic approach. But if your philanthropic concept proves successful, we should also ask the neighborhood accountants, electricians, doctors and software engineers to donate.

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    3. The reason I ask is I just wondered how mamy referrals your wife has gotten from PRA members over the years -- I didn't expect that one would bother her during her time at the pool, although if I were a realtor and someone approached me regarding a client that needed my services (and the oppportunity to make a sale), I would be happy for the referral no matter where it was given. Several Parklawn residents have commented that Jan Collins donated free yearly memberships to homebuyers in our neighborhood regardless if they were referred by a PRA member or not. I just think that would bring in more money for the pool if neighorhood realtors participated. Brad Wisely is not a member of the pool but he is a sponsor of the swim team. This idea was suggested by you and your wife; I just expanded on it. I won't comment on the absurdity of your last sentence.

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    5. I was responding to what you said when I asked how many referrrals she had received over the years from Parklawn residents. You replied: "None. She does not actively pursue business down at the pool. She goes there just to relax." People lead busy lives and sometimees the only time they have to chat is at the pool. I think your offer is generous; however,you have to know people who are in the market to purchase and I believe it would be a small percentage -- if any at all -- who would recommnend a realtor -- even if it meant helping the pool. Working with a realtor is a very personal thing. I do not know your wife. I have never seen her name on a listing in our neighborhood. That doesn't mean she is not good at her profession. She may sell homes in other areas rather than ours. Brad seems to have the market here -- although I have seen other realtors from time to time. Anyway, don't get me wrong, I don't think your idea is a bad one -- I just don't see it as a realistic approach to help the pool over the long term.

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    6. Oh, we both agree that it'd be better if realtors would donate regardless of referral. I just don't think today's realtors will. I salute the Jan Collins plan, but I'm afraid that era is long gone, as this is no longer a 1-agent neighborhood. I could be wrong though. If you were to call the 7 or 8 realtors you see on our neighborhood’s lawn signs, I predict they would not sign on to your plan.

      Our plan is to allow those 7 or 8 realtors to compete for our community’s valuable referrals. Once one of them signs on, the rest will follow out of necessity. It would be so easy to arrange. And our plan could bring in more than Ms. Collins' gifts by securing donations for all sales in MD,DC, or VA (not just our neighborhood) as long as the referral originated from a Parklawn Pool member. This is a very important distinction, because when you think about it, it’s very rare that a referral would be for a friend who happens to be moving into our specific neighborhood. It’s far more likely we all friends moving to Woodbridge, Old Town, Silver Spring, or OK, 1 time out of 30 our specific neighborhood. That’s how this plan improves over the old plan. Drastically.

      I think you somehow mistook my statement, "she does not actively pursue business down at the pool," to mean she refuses to discuss real estate when approached. I thought my wording was clear and succinct. I'll try it again with different words: She does not pester people at the pool. Those who know her abilities go to her for help, and she is happy to help them.

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    7. Our messages crossed here. Sorry about that. I couldn't get this website to refresh.

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  57. This discussion is certainly opening up several dialogues, some on point others are irrelevant.

    The issue here isn't pool membership or additional income for the pool. That is the pool's sole benefit and issue. I can't blame them for wanting the income. Unfortunately the generation of this income could have a negative impact on the children/adults/pets/wildlife living near it.

    The issue is whether or not a cell tower erected on the Parklawn Pool cite will have a negative impact on its neighbors. AT&T is attempting to add coverage to its network in an area that needs it and wants to find an amicable spot to install it. They probably want it in this general vicinity. I would think the top of the new Navy building at 395 would be a better "higher" place for the cells.

    I am not all that concerned about the visual effect of the tower as there are a lot of things I can see (especially in the Winter) that are quite unattrative in this neighborhood plus cell towers are a common site everywhere. Most are in close proximity to people since that is who uses them. They seem to be installed in commercial places as much as possible, probably because of their inherent danger.

    I am truly concerned about the health risks a tower imposes to the families with in a couple hundred yards of the tower, myself included. This is the real, bottom line issue for me. Then there is the secondary issue of home values, if they go down because of the tower than that is also nontrivial.

    Doing the right thing isn't always easy.

    Yours,
    5915 Dawes Avenue (the tower will look like it is in my back yard since it extends down to the creek just across from where it will be erected.)

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