Editor: I have never been impressed with professionally managed home owners associations.
Home owners entrust to such companies a significant interest in what is likely the largest investment they have in their lives. I am a board member of the Virginia Knolls HOA in Leesburg.
It is in the financial interest of the private company that manage the Exeter HOA dam issue to argue about the dam with the town and not to simply deal with it internally. Meanwhile, there are projects that they will never mention that could save their members many times the cost associated with the maintenance of the dam (which is the bone of contention).
When I first became a consulting engineer, I learned how self-interested “professionally” managed HOAs are. I advised condo owners on a 500-unit condominium in Arlington that ws managed by a national firm. Their chiller needed replacing and I advised owners that it was the perfect time to consider adding free cooling to the central plant so that low cost (and green) cooling could be done in the spring and fall months that are still warm. The home owners I advised were very excited. However, the management company refused to entertain the idea and they simply replaced the chiller (the easier thing for them to do).
Using the reservoir that the dam in contention holds back would be a perfect way to do green heating and cooling in the Exeter homes. They could use it with water source heat pumps in their homes—a low cost alternative to geothermal. If their average heating and cooling bills are $1,500 to $2,000 per year now (a guess—they may be more), they would be lowered by 40 percent on average. The savings for such a conversion (whenever their system needs replacing) would be $650 per year (829 homes) or more $500,000 per year collectively.
My advice to Exeter home owners is roll up their sleeves and run the HOA themselves. It may be hard work at first, but you will be happier in the long run.
Kevin Chisholm, Leesburg