Sycamore Island
Meeting Minutes

July 10, 1996

The meeting began shortly after 8 PM with Bill Eichbaum presiding and the following members present: Gerry Barton, Warren Brown, Betty Burchell, Al Brown, George and Marcia Loeb, Phil Jones, John Matthews, Johnna Robinson, John Thomson, and Mark Schlefer.

Johnna Robinson reported that the budget was on target with income and expenses as projected. Dues were reported as current. Johnna also reported that she had challenged the property tax assessment, and prevailed with the County in convincing them to reduce the value placed on both Sycamore and Rupperts Islands. Many thanks to Johnna for taking this initiative that will help lower (or at least minimize possible increases in) the club's property tax bill.

No changes were reported in membership; one addition to the waiting list.

Bill Eichbaum noted that John Matthews has done an outstanding job, almost single handed, in removing remnants of the old canoe shed, constructing temporary racks, salvaging some materials, and generally getting the facilities back into shape after the flood. The club greatly appreciates, and applauds John's fantastic efforts. John also reported that electric service has been extended to the canoe shed area, the toolhouse, and upgraded with a circuit breaker box in the clubhouse. Circuits need to be labeled, and volunteers to assist with this 2 person job will be welcomed.

Plans and suggested specifications for rebuilding the canoe shed are expected to be delivered by the end of July. There was considerable disappointment in the slow rate of progress with towpath repairs, and discussion of what steps the club might take to encourage more rapid action by the National Park Service so that materials could be delivered to the Island. The possibility of contacting members of the congressional delegation and officials in the Interior Department was discussed. Bill, John Matthews and Johnna Robinson will confer on a strategy for working with the Park Service, emphasizing the need for prompt repairs on the towpath to serve the entire community as well as making it passable for vehicles in rebuilding the canoe shed on Sycamore Island.

Bill asked Mark Schlefer to check the form for large parties to assure that it was consistent with our policies and appropriately addresses concerns about liability. There was considerable discussion about the issue of host responsibility to obtain liability waivers from their guests, especially from parents of any guests less than 21 years old. There was general agreement on the need to clarify language in the large party application form, that the liability question extends to individual guests as well as those participating in large parties, and that some clarification on responsibilities for enforcement was needed. Putting a sign in box on the ferry was suggested and will be considered. Responsibility of the caretaker and substitutes to enforce rules related to liability waivers also was discussed concluding only that this question will be examined further and guidance provided in the near future.

The liability question was extensively discussed in previous years, but questions remain about actual practice and limits of protection to the club if hosts fail to obtain waivers. Members are reminded of their individual responsibility and encouraged to give special attention to assuring compliance with club rules requiring liability waiver forms for all guests. Bill, Johnna, and Mark will review our current insurance coverages as well as , the forms, procedures, etc and make recommendations for action at a future meeting.

News of Margaret Herring's "retirement" as Saturday caretaker coordinator was repeated, with many thanks for her hard work. Phil Jones volunteered to cover this important responsibility for the rest of 1996, and anyone who can help with this coordination should contact Phil or Bill Eichbaum. Bill noted that hiring substitute caretakers is one possible solution to the increasing difficulty in finding volunteers, and it was suggested that we might revive the tradition of hiring children of members to substitute as caretakers.

Mark Schlefer will be discussing the easement question with Paul Rosa and possibly the Board of the Potomac Conservancy in mid August. A decision on who will be the recipient of the easement can be expected in the Fall.

Entertainment committee chairs, George and Marcia Loeb suggested a "Regatta" for the first week in September after Labor Day. More detailed plans for this event (sounds like a party with fun "competitive" activities) for members and waitlisters will be announced soon, John Thomson reported that the Canoe Cruisers greatly appreciated refreshments provided by Sycamore Island Club after the Potomac Whitewater race.

Betty Burchell and Al Brown reported that a bill was moving forward in Congress to allow more traffic to National Airport. This and other reports at the meeting were difficult or impossible to hear due to noise from overflights that interrupted our deliberations on the deck of the clubhouse. Readers of the Islander are encouraged to contact their local representatives in Congress to express opposition to any plan that would expand air traffic along the river corridor.

The meeting concluded a little before 9:30.

Warren Brown, Substitute Secretary