To The Daily Sun,
And to the Briarcrest Estates Anti-Lakemont Co-op Homeowners Group:
Thank you for the invitation to your meeting of Thursday, October 24 at the Briarcrest Estates Community Center — an offer I couldn't refuse -— where you proposed to inform and discuss the matter of a petition to intervene in the litigation brought by Mark Mooney, owner of Briarcrest Estates, in Belknap County Superior Court, against Lakemont Cooperative, Inc. that wishes to purchase Briarcrest Estates. In your invitation you mention hiring attorney Philip McLaughlin to prepare and present this petition to the court, saying the overwhelming majority of the homeowners in Briarcrest Estates oppose the purchase of said park by the Lakemont Cooperative. Atty. Mclaughlin was quite precise and to the point about how this procedure (and his role in it) was to be done, explaining that the anti-co-op group would not be a party to the litigation but only wanted to "be a witness" for Mark Mooney. And from what I heard afterward, you got at least 107 other homeowners to sign your petition — assuming one vote per household.
Did anyone of your group come to the Lakemont Cooperative open meeting on September 27 at the Gilford Community Church to see the ROC-NH "Pro Forma" (tentative spreadsheet) as to the financial viability of the Co-op? You would have been able to see that we have the numbers worked out to run the park in the black (at a profit) from the very first year of co-op management, progressing to after the eighth year, where rents might be held in place while still making a profit. You are welcome to the co-op's open membership meetings to ask questions, but to vote on co-op business you must join the co-op at $25 per household, which is refundable if the co-op does not complete the purchase of the park.
I would like to address the "items of discontent" or "Why We Are Against the Co-op Buying Briarcrest" sheets that you passed out at the beginning of the meeting — point by-point. It was two pages of misinformation which I strongly disagree with as a member of the co-op.
One of the first things you have to do is take off a substantial percentage of your lot rent equal to the amount of profit that Mr. Mooney makes on each lot rent payment. Then you can see where we have room to manage the lot rents to pay all expenses and make a profit. Remember, no one can stay in business without making a profit, even a non-profit such as the Lakemont Cooperative. All profit monies are turned right around and put back into the park — usually into accounts for future capital projects just as any business should do..
— First point: there are two loans — one from the Community Loan Fund and one from a local bank — adding up to $10,000,000 not two $10,000,000 loans. One will mature in 30 years and the other in 40 years and at that time they will be reconstructed so as to eliminate any balloon payments. No individual homeowner will be in any way legally responsible for either of these loans, in default or otherwise. Most banks would rather work with the business entity (such as Lakemont Co-op) than buy it themselves or let the loan go into default. According to the "Pro Forma" (spreadsheet) that ROC-NH has prepared in cooperation with the co-op, a default scenario is not possible. And, there are at least three local banks vying for our business for which we can negotiate the percentage rate.
— Next two points: Yes, the co-op will probably hire a manager to oversee the park, office and daily operations but this person will be under direct control of the board. The salary of this person is already figured into the pro forma/spreadsheet, as are the contracts for lawn mowing, a financial manager (i.e. a CPA) and snow removal (at lower prices than Mr. Mooney is charging now). As for trash removal, Mr. Mooney has backed us into a corner by making a serious mistake this past summer on payments, but remember, all contracts can be renegotiated. Mr. Mooney has told the Lakemont Co-op that expenses for snow plowing and lawn mowing are approximately $60,000 per year each or about $5,000 per month for 12 months or about $21 per household per month.
— Next point: Yes the board positions are voluntary and non-paid. The present board members are "interim" board members until the co-op buys the park. A new board will be elected after the purchase of the park, then the interim board members can run again for the new board if they so desire. The new board will probably will have a one-year term limits which is the usual amount of time that board members serve in almost all businesses. These people on the interim board are exceptional people and have been doing an exceptional job for the co-op's due diligence part of the purchase and sales agreement. They have also signed a Board of Directors Code of Ethics.
We have 241 homes in this park and at an average of 1.5 people per household (and probably more), that means we have 361 people that would probably be able to be on the board's various positions. Can they be impartial and unbiased? Yes, when it comes to running the park for the good of all the tenants. The idea of a board running a business is very old and has worked more than it has not worked. Everyone of us has worked for a business and/or owned a business and that includes those of you who were stay-at-home Moms, so we all have something special to contribute.
— Next point: The majority rules! Fifty-one percent of the membership is need for a vote to pass in the co-op after the purchase of the park. The EXCEPTION being in the Pre-Acquisition Phase — then "one-third of the entire membership shall constitute a quorum at a membership meeting" (quoting Co-op Pre-Acquisition Bylaws).
— Next point: Not enough money? The reason you make a profit every year is to build up a fund to cover any unforeseen contingencies: lower rental income, unexpected infrastructure problems, etc. This scenario was also built into the pro forma/spreadsheet.
— Next point: ROC-NH will probably come to the first few board meetings to make sure the co-op is on the right track, but then unless requested by the board, they will not come. They will be paid a consultation fee which was built into the pro forma/spreadsheet.
— Next point: Membership fees. A membership fee has been discussed but no amount has been set. If a membership fee is to be required of all homeowners, it could be paid in a lump sum or in installments (as yet to be determined). This scenario probably will not happen until after the purchase of the park by the co-op, if at all..
— Next point: Monthly expenses AND emergency infrastructure expenses. I have answered this in previous points. A certain amount of each lot rent every month goes into a capital reserve fund (a "rainy day" fund). This is built into the pro forma/spreadsheet.
I'll stop here and write another letter referring to your second page of misinformation on Hometown America.
Yes, it is a shame that this issue has divided the residents of Briarcrest Estates because to my mind the best way to go is with the co-op — we are your neighbors, we have the expertise or can get outside local help to manage the park the way it has been run for many years giving you the quality and continuity of management you want. The fear tactics and and lies have not come from the co-op members — all you have to do is read NH RSA 205-A to learn what a park owner can and can not do, as in giving 60-day notice for rent increases, 18-month expulsion notice, etc — just about every scenario is covered by this law.
Dont forget this is my home and my future, too.