Sycamore Island
Meeting Minutes

February 14, 2001

Peggy Thomson, John Matthews, David and Jane Winer, Doc Taliaferro, Gerald Barton, Brad Coolidge, Jeff Komorow, Carl Linden, Betty Burchell, Anne Marie Cunningham, George and Marcia Loeb, Robert Henry, Holly Syrrakos, Karl Kosok, Renee Dunham, Johnna Robinson, Al Brown, Martha Burgess, Jim Drew, Charlotte Brewer.

If you attended the meeting and your name is not included, please contact your secretary Renee Dunham.

The business part of the meeting started at 8:07 PM after Carolyn Reeder's presentation of her book, Captain Kate, a young person's book about canal boat life along the C & O Canal. Stimulated by this event, our caretaker spoke up for more "fun things" before the monthly meetings. President Carl Linden suggested that we plan social events for young people on the Island and at these events present some local history for their interest.

Treasurer's report:
Carl Linden reported for Carol and Alan Gelb that the treasury is in "good shape."

Membership report:
Jeff Komarow reported that we have two vacancies for membership. The applicants eligible for these slots were accepted unanimously. They are: Jim Drew and family, and R.G. Steinman and John Parrish. Their first opportunity to attend an official Sycamore Island orientation is March 31. However, attendance is voluntary for this year.

We have 155 members and 200 applicants on the waiting list. (Note: the terms, "member" and "applicant" may refer to a single person, couple, or family.) A new person on the waiting list may now wait over 12 years for membership. Some interesting data:

Year 1999 2000 2001
New applicants for waiting list 30 14 24
New members admitted (This used to be 10-15 per year) 3 or 4 1 or 2 3 or 4

Among the 150 waiting list applicants now eligible for passes, 60 have been requested and issued. Currently, 40% of new applicants (those who apply during the open month of January) request passes. The number of passes applied for will increase as new members apply, and our caretaker commented that a higher percentage may apply in the future. Jeff suggested that we close the waiting list until it has decreased to approximately 150 or some number less than the membership. These issues may be addressed when the Membership Secretary presents the annual report in May.

Captain's report:
John Matthews reported that the sewer was clogged. A Roto-rooter was used to ream out the septic system. Several toilet stoppages have occurred since then, but have now subsided. John surveyed the drop of the sewer line and found the grade was acceptable. The septic system seems intact now. The old lids will be replaced. There have been no frozen pipes this winter.

Caretaker's report:
Doc Taliaferro reported that the septic problem mentioned above occurred at the time the Island was closed.

Doc was the victim of five insect bites which infected his lymph system and required emergency hospital treatment.

Doc reported several cases of very bad judgment, such as not following advice concerning the use of canoes on cold and windy days. (See caretaker's Notes from the Island.) Accidents occurring in cold water can be fatal. This initiated a discussion concerning the authority of substitute caretakers to enforce safety rules. What guidelines should there be, based on wind speed, water temperature, and river level? How can these guidelines be posted and enforced? Ann Marie Cunningham volunteered to draft some recommendations. Once again, we were reminded that the sign-in sheet on the ferry is a release from Club liability. Members should not sign in for their guests, as guests should read the release and be bound by their signatures.

Archivist report:
Holly Syrrakos requested materials necessary to complete the archives. She informed us that the D.C. Historical Society is open to the public and copies of materials can be obtained from them.

Old business:
Caretaker's quarters: Chairman Al Brown summarized that the planned quarters will be above most floods, architecturally pleasing, utilitarian, lasting, suitable for a couple, and within budget. Drawings have been submitted by an architect and bids will go out for construction.

Proposed Amendments:
Amendments had been proposed by Jeff Komarow to Standing Rule 7 (Waiting List Passes) an to Standing Rule 10 (Assignment o Boat Racks). Jeff submitted to the membership the text of his proposals together with his explanations. This material appears elsewhere in this Islander issue. Members will vote on the proposed amendments at the March meeting.

Flotation Devices Amendment:
The motion made at the January meeting to change "guests" to "persons" in paragraph 6.b of the Standing Rules was passed. It now reads, All persons using Club canoes or boats must wear an approved life preserver or personal flotation device (PFD) at all times.

New business:
Potomac River Cleanup: Sycamore Island is one of the sites designated for cleanup on April 7, the general Potomac River Cleanup day. However, only Island members will be involved in the Island cleanup. A question was put to the Club by the sponsors of the River Cleanup as to whether we would like publicity about our Island included with the general publicity for the various other sites. The sense of the membership was definitely NO.

Discovery Creek:
George Loeb applied for a large party permit for Discovery Creek activities on July 3 and in August. Discovery Creek is an ecologically oriented organization for children. The organization was well recommended by Doc and the permit was granted.

Island Workfest:
The Workfest date was set for April 28 with May 5 as an alternative in case of rain.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 PM, followed by socializing, delighted munching, and inspection of the fascinating art objects in Johnna Robinson's home. Thank you, Johnna for your hospitality.

-- Renee Dunham, Recording Secretary