Sycamore Island
Meeting Minutes

March 9, 1994

Leaving shortly for Czechoslovakia, Tryon Wells opened the last meeting of his present term at 8:10 PM in the home of Mark and Marion Schlefer. Tryon made a point of introducing Vice President Warren Brown who will carry on.

The rest of the large turnout included Coy Lay, Betty Burchell, Pat Barnett, Bill Bays, Johnna Robinson, David Winer, John and Peggy Thomson, Gerry Barton, John Matthews, Maurice Tobin, Heddy and Trip Reid, Ann Satterthwaite, Herta Owen, Kathleen Peters, Al Brown, Mardy Burgess, Mary Wallich, George Loeb, Jesse Bakeman, David Holdridge, John Stapko, John Krasny, and Peter Jones and Holly Syrrakos.

Minutes of the January and February meetings were approved as printed in the Islander. However it was pointed out that the names and addresses of newly elected members should continue to be listed in the minutes.

A letter from Blair Bower was summarized and circulated. A fax from Peter Morabito was negative on granting a scenic easement to the Potomac Conservancy. A letter from the Conservancy outlined proposed easement terms. Former caretaker Ken Fassler offered to remove the "circle of warmth" fireplace he had constructed from our one-time water pressure tank, no longer in use.

Financial Secretary Mable Wallich reported an inflow of over $13,000 mostly from dues but also over $1,000 from guest cards. However 59 members had not yet paid dues due. Treasurer Johnna Robinson's detailed report on inflows and outflows showed us at the $14,000 mark with a bank balance of $30,000 including cash received from the last CD.

Membership Secretary Kathleen Peters reported one regular vacancy and nominated Angela Lancaster/Cantwell Mackenfuss of 17 West Kirke St, Chevy Chase MD 20815. They were duly elected. The waiting list now stands at 127. She took the occasion to suggest that we should review the application and initiation fees currently charged: our waiting list continues to grow and the wait gets longer too, so that the costs of sending all applicants 12 copies of the Sycamore Islander a year, let alone the costs of handling the applications, far exceed the fees charged. She suggested doubling the application fee and raising the initiation fee to $100 or $150, making application fees non-refundable in case of withdrawal, and requiring applicants to accept or withdraw once they are offered membership.

Captain Matthews reported on several necessary repairs including a new deck and a new cable for the canoe float. He was authorized to cut down a sapling near the ferry landing which interferes with safe mooring of the ferry in flood times as now.

The committee charged with recommending responses to the Potomac Conservancy's initiative circulated a draft letter endorsing its purposes and saying we will consider what additional steps we may be able to undertake. The draft reflected the findings of our Archivist Jesse Bakeman whose review of the files turned up no specific statement of club purpose but ample evidence of deep environmental interest and concern.

The Conservancy's statement carried in our February Islander explained in general terms what the Conservancy would ask us to give up. Its subsequent letter proposed:

For Rupperts: no structures or cutting of trees

For Sycamore: we retain the ferry landing and seasonal canoe docks and the right to repair, replace, renovate the clubhouse and ancilliary structures within limits; we accept structural height limitation of 40 feet; restrictions on cutting trees; no commercial businesses on island.

The committee pointed out that reaching a Club consensus might require some time. An easement is a legal deed conveying rights to the easement holder; it must cover both what we are willing to surrender and what we must retain in specific terms; it must take future generations' possible needs into consideration with maximum clairvoyance. The committee had already had indications of differences and uncertainties among the members and believed that a major effort should be made to inform and involve the entire membership.

The committee therefore recommended that the April meeting focus on substantive discussion of what the committee submits as its concept of easement terms. The results of the April meeting's discussion, if positive, would then be formulated into a draft easement to be submitted to the May meeting.

After some discussion a motion was adopted to accept the draft letter and to charge the committee to proceed toward drafting easement terms with participation of club members. The President asked members to come to the next meeting on the Island April 13 prepared with their own specific ideas. He also requested earliest feasible publication of the April Islander.

(Note: Warren Brown asked that a sample list of potential issues be provided in the Islander. Some will be found in the the Potomac Conservancy's letter cited above. Additionally, consider possible future canoe landing, other structures, diggings for artifacts on Ruppert; additional structures on Sycamore, girth and height limitations on tree removal; branch and brush cutting; utilities, lighting, waste disposal; lawn maintenance, outdoor game facilities; club house paint color; wire netting around trees to check beaver damage; anything else you think of that might need to be preserved as a Club right either specifically or by narrow limitation of the easement we're willing to confer.)

Under unfinished business, Betty Burchell circulated a paper proposing an alternate plan for renovations in the clubhouse per the motion adopted in the November meeting. As discussion indicated some interest in the new approach, the President asked Captain Matthews to work with Betty Burchell and architect Wiebenson to prepare an outline including cost estimates that could be printed in the next Islander so that members could vote for one or the other plan at the next April meeting.

Spring workfest was scheduled for April 17, raindate April 24. Tryon suggested the next day, Monday, a truck be arranged for so that heavy trash including the old iron window frames could be taken to the dump. A party of volunteers, similar to that which launched the new ferry, should be organized to get the trash across to the truck.

The President indicated he would refer a number of matters to committee consideration: applicant fees, big party policy, officer liability.

At adjournment the President was given a round of applause and best wishes, and exodus to the most welcome refreshments followed.

WBCoolidge, Interim Secretary