Sycamore Island
Meeting Minutes

December 10, 2003

Penny Doolittle, Dick Doolittle, Gerald S. Barton, Lucky Marmon, Bill Marmon, Jim Drew, Jane Winer, David Winer, Bill Eichbaum, Ann Satterthwaite, Brad Coolidge, Mary Vogel, Joe Vogel, John Stapko, Ann Marie Cunningham, Karl Kosok, John Lentz, Bill Bays, Star Mitchell, Blair Bower, Nancy Bower, Marion Schlefer, Mark Schlefer, Norman Metzger, Joe Hage, Renee Dunham, and Peter Winkler

Call to Order:
The meeting was held at the home of member Peggy Thomson. The meeting was called to order at 8:10 p.m. by President Ann Marie Cunningham. The minutes of the November meeting were approved.

Ann Marie observed that the Club received a mention in the December Washingtonian Magazine, its annual Best of Washington issue, as “the hardest club to join.”

Treasurer’s Report:
Ann Marie circulated the written report by Treasurer Alan Gelb, who was out of the country, and presented a brief synopsis. It contained “mostly good news”: all expenditures other than the Islander came in under budget this year. Certain expenditures dropped considerably. After a brief discussion of the proposed operating budget for 2004, the budget was approved. In the discussion, it was explained that funds for proposed improvements to the caretaker’s quarters are separate from the operating budget.

Alan’s report also included a proposal that membership dues (including the cost of the waiting list pass but not the waiting list fee) be increased by five percent. The purpose of the increase is to replenish the reserve fund, cover the cost of construction of the caretaker’s quarters, and account for inflation. In discussion, it was noted that dues were also raised by five percent one year ago, but had been constant before that for about six years. We spent about four to six percent of our reserves this year. Vice President Jeff Komarow spoke in favor of the dues increase: He pointed out that our income was subject to slippage because the waiting list is capped and hence the number of waitlisters is decreasing. He also observed that interest income may be down from this year’s amount. In Jeff’s view, a five percent increase was the minimum amount necessary for responsible management of the Club. It will result in an increase of about $14 for regular members. The proposal was put to a vote and the increase was approved, by an overwhelming margin.

Ann Marie also presented the proposal of the Personnel Committee concerning a bonus for Caretaker Joe Hage, in recognition of his excellent work. The proposal was approved unanimously.

Membership Report:
Membership Secretary Bill Marmon and Lucky Marmon are moving to Singapore for the year, during which time they will be inactive members. Joe and Tammy Belden are taking over the membership duties.

Editor’s Report:
Islander editor Norm Metzger asked everyone to be timely in their submissions to the Islander.

Caretaker’s Report:
Caretaker Joe Hage reported that “everything’s fine” at the Island. He encouraged members to come down to the Island, which gets little use at this time of year. Clubhouse Supervisor Karl Kosok took this opportunity to praise all members and waitlisters who participated in the Fall Workfest.

Old Business:
The slate of new and continuing officers, previously circulated by Nominating Committee Chair Carl Linden, was formally proposed. Most of this year’s officers have agreed to serve another year. Ann Marie spoke of the great debt we owe to George and Marcia Loeb, who are relinquishing their long-held positions as Entertainment Committee co-chairs. They are being replaced by George and Shelley Malusky. The slate of officers was put to a vote and approved.

Concerning the caretaker’s quarters improvements, Brad Coolidge raised the issue of funding for the caretaker’s quarters. Ann Marie responded that $50,000 had been appropriated in the past, some of which has been spent. Blair Bower proposed that we contact the US Geological Survey and incorporate their data about flood levels into our planning. Other members agreed that the proposal was a good idea. Peggy Thomson, our host for the evening, spoke of the late John Wiebenson’s written statement about building on the Island. The statement will be republished in part in the Islander. [Ed: if and when located]

New Business:
Ann Satterthwaite spoke about the decision to publish, in the August Islander, an article about the controversy over the building of the Georgetown University boathouse. She proposed that the Islander avoid controversies that have no direct connection to the Club or the Island. In the discussion that followed, there was vigorous give and take concerning the proposal, as well as alternative proposals suggesting that opposing viewpoints on controversial topics be presented in any article. Others, including former Islander co-editor David Winer, suggested that we defer to the judgment of the editor. No vote was taken, but Ann Marie and current Islander editor Norm Metzger agreed to be more sensitive to the issue in the future.

Jeff Komarow presented his proposal that we raise the number of regular members, from 155 to 160. He asserted that usage of the Island was down and that the Island could accommodate more members. He proposed that after one year, we can reevaluate. Other members responded that usage was down because of this year’s rainy weather. Ann Marie will attempt to have usage data available at the January meeting, when we will vote on the proposal.

Outgoing Membership Secretary Bill Marmon raised the issue of whether we should continue to require that waitlisters with passes present identification cards to use the Island. Captain Tryon Wells, Bill reported, thinks that we should not require the cards. Joe Hage reported that, in practice, they are not checked. It was agreed that we would not send out the passes this year.

There will be a meeting on December 14 to discuss construction plans. John Stapko thanked Club members for purchasing him a new chain saw. Star Mitchell organized the collection. John’s old saw was stolen from his car (at the Clara Barton Parkway parking area) during the Fall Workfest. Peggy Thomson asked that we consider posting the Club’s phone number (and ferry combination lock number) on the Club’s sign by the canal. Others responded that the number was available on the ferry itself.

Ann Marie thanked our host, Peggy Thomson, Caretaker Joe Hage, and everyone who turned out for the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m., and all in attendance repaired to Peggy’s dining room for refreshments. The Club’s January meeting will be hosted by Star Mitchell, and the February meeting will be hosted by Jeff Komarow.

-- Peter Winkler, Recording Secretary