Basement Egress Proposal #2 - Building Center Stairs To Wetland and Connector Pathways

Great Oak Community 2019-09-16

Summary:

Proposal to build a 3rd set of concrete stairs to the wetlands, along with 2 leveled gravel paths to the adjacent buildings, and pay for it with a loan from the Reserve.

Background:

Initially, a set of stairs from the north central piazza down to the wetland area was part of the original designs of Great Oak. Due to budget constraints, it could not be built. Over the years, there has been periodic interest in building these stairs as many people in the community walk the wetland paths.

In the past year, there has also been a desire to allow walkout units to have safer access to their basements. Originally, this proposal was included in a larger proposal about basement egress, but it now is its own, stand-alone proposal.

Proposal:

Part 1 - What we are asking to Community to build.

At the time of this proposal, there are currently 2 sets of community stairs down to the lower area of Great Oak. We are proposing that:

Great Oak builds a 3rd stairway and a portion of a path that connects to the edges of the 2 adjacent buildings. The stairs would go from the north lower piazza, down to just above where the unpaved path along the wetland begins. From there, a level pathway would be added to connect the stairs to the edges of the 2 adjacent buildings (units 14-17 on the west side, and units 18-20 on the east side) The stairs would have minimal lighting for safety, similar to the east end stairs, that Great Oak would install and maintain. The future replacement value for the stairs and landing gets added to everyone's reserve contributions equally.

Part 2 - Cost and How we pay for it.
To build the stairs out of precast concrete to look like natural stone, with a landing in the middle, and to create 2 leveled paths with gravel that lead to the edge of the 2 adjacent buildings will cost just under $10,000. As there are sometimes cost overruns during construction projects, we'd like the OK to spend up to $11,000. Anything over that would have to come back to the community for further approval. Approximate monthly cost increases are listed in the addendum.

We propose that Great Oak spend no more that $11,000 on this project.
We propose that this be paid for with a loan from our Reserve.

The community will pay the Reserve back, via a line item in our operating budget, over the next 5-10 years (depending on community agreement). Having it in our operating budget gives us the flexibility to pay it off quicker in some years if we choose, vs a special assessment which would lock us in.
To protect the Reserve, we will pay back the equivalent of what we borrow plus 3%. This is similar to how the workshop and solar panels were paid for, and greatly simplifies the bookkeeping.

If the project looks like it will exceed $11,000, it must come back to the community for re-approval.

Part 3 - How we maintain it.

We anticipate that clearing the stairs will only add 1 shoveling position per winter. We propose that 1 snow shoveling position be added to the work program.

We acknowledge that Great Oak's work program is an ever-changing thing. We require every member and associate member to join, and the added benefit of the stairs is worth 1 extra position.

If Great Oak never allows for basement walkout apartments to use the basement door as primary access, then Great Oak could decide to not maintain the stairs in the winter.

PROS
This was part of the highest ranked scenario when last brought to the community.
Great Oak finally gets the set of stairs off the north piazza that was in the initial plans, making it easier to access the wetlands.

Lets Great Oak move forward now with a critical piece that is needed if the two adjacent buildings are ever going to be made safe for basement egress apartments (See Basement Egress Proposal #1).

The entire community pays equally for this community resource.

CONS
We will be building more infrastructure that we have to both pay for and maintain.
Converts natural/wild area into more hardscape.
Adds 1 snow removal job to the work program.
The entire community pays equally for this community resource.

Addendum - Possible cost scenario and historical links

COST ESTIMATES
If we spend no more than the $11,000 this proposal is asking for, below is the breakdown of the increased costs per unit, per month once the work is completed.

Great Oak takes $11,000 from the Reserve and agrees to pay it back as if we charged 3%, via our Operating Budget. Here is what that would look like at 5, 8, and 10 years.

5 year payoff = 11,859 = $5.34 per unit per month

8 year payoff = 12,386 = $3.49 per unit per month

10 year payoff = $12,746 = total = $2.87 per unit per month F&L needs input on preferred timeframe.

RESERVE Contribution Increase
The hardscape (stairs and landings) added into the Reserve for future replacement because it is a GCE element. The hardscape is roughly $6,210, so we are assuming that everyone's Reserve contributions will eventually go up approximately $0.60 when the life expectancy requires it be added to the Reserve. The gravel portion costs less than $1,000, so does not meet our requirement to add to the Reserve. Adding gravel over the years will be a Grounds Operating expense.

Important key financial things to consider:
Our Shortfall Special assessment of $4.15 per unit per month ends with the 8/2020 payment.

Our loan for the workshop, which is wrapped in the operating budget at $3.16 per unit per month, ends July, 2021.

HISTORICAL INFO AND LINKS
Great Oak has 37 units. When Great Oak was built, 17 units were made with walkout basements. There was talk during the design and building phase that it would be nice if owners could rent those basements as completely separate apartments, but no formal agreements were made. And more importantly, no official paths were created behind those units.

Now Great Oak is faced with the challenge of whether or not we want to allow the walkout units to create a second primary point of access or not. And if we do, we have to agree in principle about how to divide the many costs.

The F&L committee has worked on this for over a year in committee, and brought forward several info and discussion pieces to the community, as this is a complex topic. See attached page for list of links to that historical info.

What is clear is that we have several members with a strong desire/need to do this, strong concerns about safety for the tenants because of the slope and no paths, and a real need to keep everyone's work and financial obligations from increasing too much.

This series of proposals attempts to provide a good balance. It splits the costs, and limits what is being built now while still giving access to all the needed walkouts.

Because of the complexity, the original proposal was presented in 3 sections. We have now broken it into 3 separate proposals. Proposal #1 deals with what exactly Great Oak will allow. Proposal #2 deals with the center stairs, and Proposal #3 deals with creating safe pathways behind 2 buildings.

Survey Results https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1AS6jOeZATxd2AFURc1caVAMRge190PEnvbwmPBaPVN E/edit?usp=sharing

Legal Stuff https://www.dropbox.com/s/e4hhwhpsoapym78/Legal%20concerns%20around%20the%20base ment%20egress%20issue.pdf?dl=0

The Scenarios https://www.dropbox.com/s/xtmf8pz2hkmkxoz/Basement%20egress%20and%20walkway%20sc enarios%20March%2031%202019.pdf?dl=0

Process Comments:

*Consensus on Proposal 2 reached at 7:21 *with two stand asides: one
because too expensive, one because she can not do stairs anymore so will
not be able to use them.