Sycamore Island
Meeting Minutes

June 9, 2004

Jim Drew, Gerry Barton, Norm Metzger, Johnna Robinson, David Winer, Jane Winer, Peggy Thomson, Phoebe Hamill, Ann Marie Cunningham, Larry Heilmann, Peter Winkler, Jeff Komarow, and Joe Hage

Call to Order
President Ann Marie Cunningham called the meeting to order at 8:15 p.m., outside, by the Captain’s Float.

There was no review of the May meeting minutes as that meeting was informal, there having been no quorum.

Communications and Announcements
Peter Winkler wanted to publicly thank Caretaker Joe Hage for assisting with a school outing at the Island. Joe gave the students an excellent introduction to the Island, led them on a hike, and helped them launch canoes. Ann Marie introduced new member Phoebe Hamill. Ann Marie reported that the Building Committee will meet on June 15 at the Island. Ann Marie also reported that we are in need of volunteers for weekend relief caretaking. Please contact Candy Means via the Club website. Waitlisters who perform this task will get a day pass to use the Island. David Winer announced that we will again have our Club Solstice party, an overnight in July on dates to be announced. We will also have our Club fishing derby in August, on a date to be announced. David reported that he and fellow fisherman George Malusky had gone fly-fishing for carp today, using artificial cicadas.

Membership Report
Ann Marie delivered the report for Membership Secretaries Joe and Tammy Belden. We have two openings, and at the top of the list are Whitney Pinger and Roger Pollack, and Carol and Bruce Beehler. Joe checked with several Club references for both couples. The meeting then voted them into the Club. Both couples applied for membership in 1995.

Islander Report
Editor Norm Metzger solicited contributions for the next few issues.

Joe Hage reported that he has rigged up a new, louder set of bells for the ferry. Note that they are not on the same old rope. Joe has met the people who purchased the Sycamore Store. They are a design/build firm currently located in Kensington, Maryland, and they hope to get historic designation for the Store. They plan to leave the front of the Store as is.

Canoe Report
Canoe Supervisor Jim Drew reported that the canoe shed is full. However, there is currently no waiting list. Peter Winkler reported on the 49th running of the Canoe Cruisers Association Potomac Downriver Race, from Great Falls to Sycamore Island. The race chairman was Star Mitchell, a member of both the Club and the CCA. Star did a truly great job publicizing the race, attracting sponsors, and attracting many more entrants than in recent years. The race was well managed, and a good time was had by all. [See Larry Heilman's appreciation to Star in this issue.]

Old Business
Gerry Barton raised the issue of getting more members to participate in Club governance and maintenance. He is the member of another club, and he explained their dues system: each member is annually assessed a flat rate plus a “work tax”; the work tax can be “paid” through work, at set hourly rates established by the club for various tasks. Gerry would like our Club to adopt a similar system. Ann Marie said she supported our considering the idea, especially as we are facing a large expenditure to improve the caretaker’s quarters. Ann Marie observed that it would require a certain amount of oversight. Other members noted that it would probably raise dues for those who did not work, and that we should not undertake such a program without due deliberations.

Gerry Barton also discussed work that he, Tryon Wells, and Trip Reid had done on the bridge at the Spring Workfest. They cleaned around the footings. Gerry thinks the bridge is in pretty good shape, although there is some deterioration of the decking. Ann Marie has sent a letter to the Park Service regarding needed repairs. Gerry also reported that some Eagle Scouts are coming this week to work on the path down from MacArthur Boulevard. That work will be performed in conjunction with the Potomac Conservancy and the Park Service. Joe Hage stated that the Club had been asked to contribute some money for the purchase of the railroad ties that will be used. Peter Winkler made a motion that we authorize a contribution of $150, the amount Joe thought would be needed. Ann Marie observed that with our building plans up in the air, this would be a good time for the Club to cultivate some good will. The motion was approved.

Johnna Robinson observed that our self-insurance fund has declined from about $60,000 to about $40,000. Johnna proposed that we address our funding issues by introducing the concept of ownership shares, like some of the neighborhood pools, which would be payable on attaining membership and refundable upon resignation. She proposed that new members be required to put in $1000. David Winer and others objected, asserting that we cannot so drastically impinge on the expectations of those currently on the waiting list. Ann Marie suggested that we could set a much smaller amount, and assess all current members. Jeff Komarow and others stated that any such proposal would require systematic planning and study. Finally, others, including Johnna, stated that we should be thinking about this issue now, while the building project is still in the planning stages.

Ann Marie Cunningham reported on the meetings that she, Pat Cleary, and John Matthews had with Montgomery County officials concerning our building plans. Ann Marie stated that “it won’t be easy.” We are “illegally non-compliant” right now—we are a non-residence in a residential zone—and getting ourselves declared legally non-compliant could have negative consequences if we ever have to rebuild after significant damage. We can seek a special exception, but it would require a lot of effort and we might not succeed. Does the Club have any land-use professionals who can lend help to this effort? Please contact Ann Marie. In the mean time, Ann Marie will recommend to the building committee that we file the paperwork to become legally compliant, and that we build within the current footprint.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m., after which some of those present went indoors, to avoid the mosquitoes and see some of the existing building proposals.

-- Peter Winkler, Recording Secretary