Newsletters

Newsletter 3rd Quarter 2019

Greetings from Grenelefe!                                                                                             Summer 2019

We have started the summer off with a drought over the past few weeks, which is typical for this time of year. Everything is a little crunchy, but as I look out my back patio, there are lots of storm clouds that are starting to come in on a regular basis and we should be back to our wet ways soon. Then we will start doing all of our plant installs. Last year we had planted plumbago bushes along all of the borders of the cleared natural areas and islands to enhance the curb appeal. Plumbagos are kind of bushy and have pretty blue flowers on them. They look great this year! They love the sunshine and the dry conditions so they are flourishing. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we steadily continue to enhance the property through our landscaping projects.

Speaking of projects, the board of directors just approved a couple that I am very excited about. The first one, upgrading the parking lot and street lights, is one that I have been pushing for years, but there was always something more pressing that needed to be done. This wait, as it turned out, was a good thing. Fast forward seven years and we find that technology and design have come forward in leaps and bounds. Our old behemoth light posts have not aged well due to their design and the fact that they are made out of wood. Most of them have either surpassed useful life or are reaching the end of it. For several years now, we have patched and propped up our light poles in order to keep them going. The light posts are buried directly into the ground and they rot over time. Even though we changed from sodium light bulbs to fluorescents for energy savings, these new LED fixtures are far more energy efficient and also produce better light. Besides being virtually maintenance free, the new design will save money over the current design as far as replacement cost and the energy savings from using LEDs. The new design will be night sky friendly meaning that the lights will not be shining up into the sky. There are advantages to these in that they light only areas that need it, are fully shielded and point downward. We will be rolling this project out starting this summer.

The second project we will be doing is restricting access to our trash disposal area. It is a shame that we even have to consider going to these lengths over trash, but this is the number one issue for the Association. As we have shown our commitment to make this a better experience with the installation of the compactors and the beautification of these trash disposal areas, we will now complete the process and control the access to these areas. The reason for the need to do this is that there are a multitude of off-property dumpers, and these are not just one-time occurrences. People are coming in from off property with trailers and pickups full of trash and it is not the kind of trash that is supposed to be thrown in the compactors. We have had residents from the surrounding housing communities empty their garages and dump it into the compactor. We have also found renovation trash such as boards, shingles, glass and tile in the compactors. This is a common occurrence and unfortunately, we are not always staffed when it jams up the compactors and causes pileups of trash on the ground. Most of the abuse takes place on the weekends or afterhours. The number of pulls being required is much higher than we anticipated during our analysis about switching to compactors. We only planned on four pick-ups per month for both compactors and we are averaging almost double that number. This will affect what we have to budget for trash removal. The plan for rolling this out is to install barrier gates like you see in some parking lots. Access will be limited to only condominium residents and you will need to register and receive a unique code that will identify you. The registration will be available through the Association website. We will either text or e-mail you your access code. We are planning to have several options for access. There will be a keypad, and a four-digit code will be given to you at no cost. We will have other options that are more convenient such as key fobs, cards and phone apps which will have a small cost, based on which product you choose. We are planning to get started on this project soon to try to reduce the amount and kinds of trash that are being dumped by nonresidents. In the interim we ask that you abide by the compactor rules and pass these along to your renters if you have them.

Compactor Rules:

1. All trash must be securely bagged prior to disposal.

2. Place securely bagged trash into the compactor. Do not leave on the ground. Note: compactor will compact trash after the door has been opened and closed 3 times.

3. Flatten boxes before placing them into the compactor.

4. No auto batteries, oils or petroleum

5. No toxic or combustible materials

6. No furniture, mattresses or appliances

7. No construction or remodeling trash

8. No landscaping trash

I want to invite you to visit our website at www.grenelefecondominium.com. We are in the process of revamping the site to make it more user friendly and easier to navigate. There is a wealth of information that we have put up on the site for you. Board meeting minutes are posted on the site, along with the condominium rules and regulations. The website is a great way to stay connected with what is happening with your association.

I would like to remind you that all installations of screen rooms, front screen doors, French patio doors and washers and dryers must follow the procedures set forth by the Design Review Committee. The first step in getting approved is to stop by the Association office and pick up a copy of the policy and the application or if you have access to the web, print it from our website at grenelefecondomium.com. Fill out the application and return it to the Association for approval before installing any of these. We would be happy to discuss the process or answer any questions you may have about making these changes to your condominium.

Have a great summer and as always, it is a pleasure to serve you. My staff and I look forward to seeing you when you are in town.

Chris Gourdie

General Manager

Newsletter 2nd Quarter 2019

Greetings from Grenelefe!

It has been a busy season around here with lots of visitors renting owner units and new owners that have purchased units from the owners. Grenelefe Condo rentals (CFI/Westgate) have also been busy. They are running at 90% full. They have also increased their monthly rental rates which is a sure sign that the market is improving. Even though we are busy, we enjoy meeting and seeing familiar faces this time of year as many owners make their way down to Florida to escape the winter cold for a while.

I mentioned earlier about this being a busy season for us because there are a lot of short-term renters staying. I wanted to remind everyone that the definition of a short-term renter in terms of the association rules, is anyone that rents for less than 31 days. If you have renters that stay more than 31 days, they must go through a background check. It may seem like this is not necessary, but in order to be able to manage the association properly, we have to apply the rules to everyone and it has to be done consistently. Also, if you are doing multiple, short-term seasonal rentals, and advertising on line, it is recommended that you have a lock box (what realtors use) for your unit that has your key. Even though we have a key to most of the privately-owned units at the office, we will not give it out unless we have permission from you in advance. We have had several occasions where guests arrive and come to the office to “check-in” and we do not have any knowledge of what is going on. This can be aggravating for your renters because it starts their stay off in a negative way. Also, if they arrive after we close or on the weekend, they have no way to get into their unit. Another thing that is very helpful for your renters is the Welcome to Grenelefe Guide found under the new owners tab on the home page of our website. This is full of the basics such as trash disposal, laundry, an overview of the rules and regulations and other helpful information. Go to grenelefecondominum.com to print this out.

Strictly talking trash, many of you have seen our new trash compactors and they have made a big impact on the cleanliness of the trash areas. We have also gotten rid of the pesky vultures that were dragging trash out of the dumpsters. One problem that continues to occur is people throwing garbage bags on top of their cars and driving through the community to dump them at the trash disposal sites. If the trash makes it all the way to the compactors without falling off of the cars, then there is not an issue, however, in many cases the trash has fallen off onto the road and burst the bags, getting trash all over the place. Also, it is not always being cleaned up and this brings in the vultures, raccoons and other scavengers. Several owners at the last board meeting shared ideas as to what they do to transport their garbage. One said they bought large fiberglass type bags from the hardware store and put the plastic garbage bags into those in their trunk for transport, but I also heard that someone else uses a plastic tote to ensure that nothing leaks into the trunk area. I thought that was a great idea.

I mentioned the Grenelefe Homeowner’s Association in my last newsletter and wanted to give out this information again. This is different from the Condominium Association. The Homeowner’s Association (Arrowhead Lakes, Aspenwood, Club Estates. Country Homes and Grenelefe Estates) has invited our condominium owners to join their group with a social membership. This group sponsors social events throughout the year and is looking for new members and fresh ideas. You will receive newsletters as well as a homeowner’s directory. If you are interested in joining, mail a check to Grenelefe Homeowners Association, P.O. Box 5192, Haines City, FL 33845. Contact Pamela McKendrick with questions. Pamela’s e-mail is pam.mckendrick@gmail.com This is a great way to get connected with others in the community.

As was mentioned above, the condominiums are almost full to capacity and when this happens, little things can turn into big things. Crowded parking lots, driving fast and noise are all things that that get amplified during the winter months. I wanted to remind everyone about what the rules are with reference to noise.

The bylaws state the following:

“No apartment owner or resident shall play upon or permit to be played any musical instrument or operate or permit to be operated an audio player, radio, television set or other loud speaker in an apartment between the hours of 11 P.M. and the following 8 A.M. if the same shall disturb or annoy the other occupants of the building.”

This is also listed in the Welcome to Grenelefe Guide as well as a lot of other useful information for you and your renters.

That is all the news for now. As always, it is a pleasure to serve you, and my staff and I look forward to seeing you when you are in town.

Sincerely,

Chris Gourdie
General Manager

Newsletter, 1st Quarter 2019

Greetings from Grenelefe!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your families. This truly is the most wonderful time of the year! Try to slow things down, and renew your spirit. Focus on what is important and you will find that the details will take care of themselves.

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.

Roy L. Smith

The Association’s annual meeting for 2018 was held on November 1st. There was not an election due to the fact that no one new submitted their name to be on the board. There were three candidates for four open positions on the board. The board members whose two-year terms were ending will serve for another two years. These board members included Carl Bauer, Bryon Smith and John Rasmussen.

The board members held an organizational meeting immediately following the annual meeting and decided the following slate of officers would serve in 2019: John Rasmussen, president; Randy Kuhl, treasurer; and Bryon Smith, secretary. All the board members are serving two-year staggered terms (approved at the 2011 annual meeting).
Board member Carl Bauer who was representing Westgate at the annual meeting, reported that the property had just been listed with a realtor, Newmark Knight Frank out of Houston, who specializes in this type of property, and he expects it to sell in 2019.

The board meetings for 2019 have been preset in an effort to let owners who want to attend be able to mark their calendars in advance. The 2019 board meetings will be February 7th, June 6th, September 5th and November 7th. The annual meeting is scheduled for November 9th.

In the past day or two, you likely received a large envelope from the Association. This contains information from the annual meeting as well as the HVAC service agreements. I wanted to point out why signing up for these service agreements is a good idea. Unless you have replaced your AC system within the past few years and have a warranty on your units, this could save you a bundle if you experience problems with your AC system. The high heat and humidity of Central Florida keeps the ACs running almost constantly in order to keep our homes cool about 8 months out of the year. The service agreement costs $150.00 per air conditioner and covers most repairs to the system. This annual service agreement is transferable if you sell your unit.

To illustrate the costs of typical AC repairs I looked up the following information on Homeadvisor.com:

How Much Do Common Air Conditioner Repairs Cost?

  • Refrigeration leak detection and repairs – $225-$1,600
  • AC refrigerant recharge – $160-$400
  • Circuit board replacement – $120-$600
  • Replace fuses, circuit breakers or relays – $15-$300
  • Thermostat Replacement – $60-$250
  • AC compressor repair hard start kit – $100-$250
  • Capacitor or contactor replacement – $90-$400
  • Evaporator coil replacement – $650-$1,200
  • Condensing unit fan motor replacement – $100-$300
  • Condensate pump replacement – $90-$250
  • A troubleshooting service call can vary from $75-$180 depending on your geographical area.

As you can see, these costs can add up. Having a service agreement can save you money if you have any problems with your AC. The income from this program also helps to offset maintenance fees, so it does help to keep them lower and offers you a type of insurance for your AC. It is also a good thing to have if you are renting your unit. AC issues are not confined to Monday through Friday during working hours and tenants are not usually content to wait when the AC is not working. They want it fixed immediately and having an AC agreement will help you avoid the expensive after hours and weekend fees that you would be charged if you did not have an agreement.

If you are looking for a social connection, the Grenelefe Homeowner’s Association (not the Condominium Association) has welcomed condominium owners to join their group. The Homeowner’s Association (Arrowhead Lakes, Aspenwood, Club Estates. Country Homes and Grenelefe Estates) has a directory and also sponsors four or five social events throughout the year. You will receive newsletters as well as a homeowner’s directory. The fee is $35 per year. If you are interested in joining, mail a check to Grenelefe Homeowners Association, P.O. Box 5192, Haines City, FL 33845. This is a great way to get connected with others in the community.

Time for some Trash Talk. The association has exchanged our open top dumpsters for trash compactors. These new trash compactors should cut down on the mess at the trash disposal area and get rid of the vultures and other wildlife that like to eat garbage. Notice I said “should” cut down on the mess. Two weeks into the new compactors, we had a mess on our hands and there was trash everywhere at the trash area. This was because the trash compactor was not working. When the repair people came out to see what the problem was, we found things like metal folding chairs, construction debris from someone’s remodeling job and a satellite dish all crammed into the compactor. This caused the compacting blade to get stuck and thus not let any of the trash stacked on top of these items to fall into the hopper and get compacted. One would think that common sense (or perhaps the large sign that clearly states in bold red letters what not to put in the trash), would tell them not to throw these types of things into the compactor. Perhaps we could adopt the Homeland Security phrase, “If you see something, say something”…. Like “Excuse me, I don’t think you should put that satellite dish into the trash compactor, or “When in doubt, leave it out! Pardon me, but maybe you should leave that metal folding chair and television set outside of the trash compactor.” The compactors are designed for household trash only and will work very well if we can limit them to this type of trash. We do have these areas under video surveillance and will attempt to confront violators. However, as we have seen in the past many of our illegal dumpers do not live in the condominiums nor do they care if they are causing a problem for us. This is an ongoing battle and we will continue to look for ways to curb this type of bad behavior.

I wanted to let everyone know that the Lancelot Lounge has revamped its menu and has extended their hours of operation. They are now open Monday – Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5:30 p.m. Stop by and take advantage of their expanded menu with things like quesadillas, burritos, nachos, rueben and grilled chicken sandwiches, meatball subs, hotdogs, bratwurst, mushroom swiss burgers, chicken wings, salads, soups, chili and many other choices. In addition to their daily food specials, they are now doing a daily happy hour from 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day! They have a great selection of cocktails, wines and ice cold beers. Stop by and give them a try!

The entire Grenelefe Condominium Association staff sends you warm holiday wishes. As always, it is a pleasure for us to serve you. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

Chris Gourdie
General Manager

Newsletter, 4th Quarter 2018

Greetings from Grenelefe!

We had a very wet summer with 33 inches of rain since June. This is high for this time of the year. This region has had the ninth wettest summer on record. The continuous rain and warm temperatures in the 90s has been both a blessing and a curse. It has been wonderful for the four thousand plus plants we have installed this summer. However, it has greatly challenged our staff in trying to keep the grass mowed and the weeds under control. Our carpentry crew has been busy with the normal preventative maintenance and repairs of the buildings along with replacing many broken and cracked sidewalks around the property.

The board decided to move forward with replacing the trash dumpsters with trash compactors, and we are now focusing on preparing those areas. There are many advantages to using compactors. Higher volumes of trash can be accommodated with less dependency on pick-ups. The trash is contained within the compactor which would reduce the animal issue, the overflow onto the ground and the cardboard boxes taking up space. Trash compactors would allow us to handle large volumes of trash that accumulate on the weekends and the compactors will indicate when they are 80% full so that we can make sure to schedule trash pulls in a timely manner. If properly used, the trash compactors can make the trash disposal areas and trash disposal experience cleaner and more appealing for residents. The way ours will work is that there will be a 4×4 opening with a door that swings open. After the door closes a few times, the trash will be compacted. When the compactors get dumped, they will be returned the same day. There will be times where you might have to drive to the other side of property if they are hauling the compactor to the dump. All of these positives about the compactors are great and as long as people put their trash into the compactor and don’t throw furniture and other non-residential trash into them, they should be a big improvement over the current dumpsters. We are looking to be up and operational for the compactors by the end of November.

As an owner of a condominium at Grenelefe, it is critical to use some very simple yet effective techniques while performing any home improvement projects. First and foremost, always check with the Association office to ensure that you are permitted to make the change you desire. It is important to follow the Association rules and regulations. These are in place to help protect your community and property values. If you are doing a major renovation, you should take care to make your immediate neighbors aware of this because installers and remodelers often work early hours. If you are doing the job yourself, you can plan for quieter things like painting in the evenings to keep the pounding and hammering to a minimum. It is important that your contactors understand that they will need to remove their own trash. Sometimes a dumpster for your project is required. If the job is going to require a dumpster, please contact the Association for instructions as to where it can be placed. We will help determine the best place for the dumpster so as not to disturb your neighbors. When not in use, make sure the dumpster stays covered with a tarp in order to keep trash from blowing out into your community. Also keep residential trash out of the dumpster as this will attract wild animals. Lastly, it’s smart to give as much direction as possible to your construction management team. Simple communication between all parties can make a huge difference in the success of a job.

Is it time to replace your hot water heater? It’s crucial to know the age of your water heater. You find the age by looking for the serial number on the manufacturer’s sticker on the upper portion of the water heater. The serial number contains the date that the water heater was manufactured. But it won’t look the way a date is normally written. Instead, the serial number will have a date code such as “F051052638”. F is for the month and F is the sixth letter in the alphabet, so it represents the sixth month, June. Next, the first two digits of the serial number are 05, which represents the year, 2005. So this water heater was made in June 2005. Each manufacturer has a similar date code, and they can vary; check the manufacturer’s website to learn more. If you can’t determine who the manufacture is or can’t find the serial number and you have no paperwork on the hot water heater, then it is probably safe to say that it is really old and should be replaced. If your water heater is 10 years old you should replace it, especially if you live in an upstairs unit. Failure to do so may result in a claim against you for negligence in the event of a leak that damages other condominiums in the building. One of the benefits of replacing your hot water heater is that new models are up to 20% more efficient and can save up to $700 in energy costs over the life of the unit. Make sure to use a licensed plumber if you are replacing your hot water. Permits are required in Polk County, so make sure that this is included in the price quote. Keep a copy of everything for your records to show that your hot water heater was properly installed.
I want to remind everyone that the Association’s annual meeting will be held Saturday, November 3rd, in the main lobby of the conference center. As always it is a pleasure for us to continue to serve you and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

Chris Gourdie
General Manager

Newsletter 3rd Quarter 2018

We have started the summer off with a lot of rain over the past three weeks which is not typical for this time of year, but we are not complaining! It does not seem that long ago that we were cleaning up from Hurricane Irma and here we are already in hurricane season again . The combination of the last year’s hurricane, the severe freeze in January, the dry conditions (only two inches of rain since January prior to the last three weeks) and the utilities having problems with two of their pumps had left us with a lot of damaged or dead vegetation. The good news is that we have been able to get an early jump on installing new plants this season. We have targeted certain buildings and are placing plants and sod around the planned installation areas. We have also been planting along the borders of the cleared natural areas and islands to enhance the curb appeal. The recent rains from the subtropical storm and the repair and replacement of th e pumps at the utility will certainly help to establish all of the plants that we are installing. It would be nice to be able to fix everything, everywhere and all at once. However, we do not have the funding to accomplish this, so we will continue to work within the financial parameters set forth by the Association . We appreciate everyone’s patience as we steadily continue to enhance the property .

We have also welcomed Joyce Robertson to our administrative staff. Joyce will be taking over for Brenda Richardson who has semi – retired and moved to Cape Coral to be with her daughter. Carol Post has been working training Joyce on all of our accounting processes. Carol will go back to overseeing our accounting processes on a part time basis and focusing on her writing career as soon as Joyce is up to speed on everything.

I want to remind you about our website at www.grenelefecondominium.com. There is a wealth of information that we have put up on the site for you. There is also an area where units can be li sted for rent or sale. This is a great way to get your contact information out there for potential renters or buyers or to look for yourself. All of the board meeting minutes are posted on the site, along with the condominium rules and regulations. The web site is a great way to stay connected with what is happening with your association.

Also located on our website is our Welcome to Grenelefe Guide . This is a great informational packet that is helpful for new owners or for your renters . The Welcome to Grenelefe Guide can be found under the new owners tab on the home page of our website. This is full of the basics such as trash disposal, laundry, an overview of the rules and regulations and other helpful information.

One of the items covered in the Welcome to Grenelefe Guide is our policy on back patios. In recent years the membership voted to limit certain items from being stored on the back patios and balconies. As a reminder, here is the list:

Garbage cans, automotive parts, tires, watercraft, boat motors, boxes and storage bins, coolers, indoor furniture and items intended for indoor use, appliances, exercise equipment, dead plants, empty planters and flower pots, firewood, building materials, table saws, drill presses and workbenches. Blankets, sheets, quilts and tarps are not to be used to cover items on patios.

We appreciate everyone’s efforts to keep their patios free of these items.

Your patio and balcony are considered limited common area because that area serves only your condominium, which is the reason you are able to keep your personal items out in these areas. The Association pressure washes our buildings on an 8 – month cycle. Part of the pressure washing includes the patios and balconies. When we pressure wash a building, we first put a notice on the doors of all the units of that building giving the occupants time to prepare for this service. Part of this preparation is the removal of all of your personal items on the patios and balconies. This includes everything, even your potted plants. For liability reasons, the Association staff cannot handle your personal property when it is in your limited common area. If you are a seasonal owner and you do not want us to skip your patio or balcony, you may wish to bring your personal items inside before you leave. If you are renting your unit, please insure that your renter cooperates with moving items off of the patios and balconies in preparation for the pressure washing. If items are not moved, then the balcony or patio will not get cleaned. Unfort unately, if the Association must skip a patio or balcony, we cannot come back at a later date just to do that area of the building because it throws off the schedule and causes owners in other buildings to be delayed in getting their buildings washed. Also, we are unable to clean balconies and patios that are screened in due to the high pressure spray potentially damaging the screens.

I would like to remind you that all screen rooms, front screen doors, French patio doors and washers and dryers installed in units must follow the procedures set forth by the Design Review Committee. The first step in getting approved is to stop by the Association office and pick up a copy of the policy and the application or if you have access to the web, print it from our website at grenelefecondomium.com. Fill out the application and return it to the Association for approval before installing any of these. We would be happy to discuss the process or answer any questions you may have about making these changes to your condomi nium.

Condominium insurance – a must – have , in my opinion. I have witnessed the anguish of uninsured owners when they come to the office to ask who is going to replace the carpet that was cut out and removed from their unit or trying to find out who will pay for their water damaged kitchen cabinets. Insurance is especially important if you live in a downstairs unit (gravity) . The increase in occupancy combined with the departure from a resort type guest to a more residential user has increased the amount of cooking grease and solid waste being put through the drains. The Association is spending about $20,000 a year on sewer and plumbing repairs and will continue to do this as we encounter these problems. If these sewer drains back up and overflow from your tub or kitchen sink, it is considered a category 3 water contaminant. Any items such as walls, carpets, pads, wooden cabinets, furniture, etc. , that gets soaked in this sewage, have to be removed. The laws are very clear on the financial responsibility of these types of losses. The condominium association is responsible for the cleanup of the water soaked areas , including sanitation, and replacement of affected drywall . Everything else is the owner’s responsibility. There are other water issues that occur that are not sewer related. Things such as overflowing toilets, clogged condensate lines, broken tub drains, improperly installed dishwashers or ice makers can also cause major damage to lower units. If you are in an upper unit, you need insurance for different reasons. If you don’t have insurance and you or your renter is negligent in causing the leak, then you will receive a bill from the Association for the cleanup and repairs on our part and you may be contacted by the damaged unit owner’s insurance company for subrogation. The fact that you cannot control the behaviors of others , as well as the age of our development, should be major motivators in the decision to carry coverage on your condominium.

Have a great summer and as always, it is a pleasure to serve you . My staff and I look forward to seeing you when you are in town.

Chris Gourdie

General Manager