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Paul Goldstein   community coffee

Paul Goldstein, chair, Internet Task Force, shows the audience at the Saturday, March 11
Community Coffee how the fiber optic cable will run through conduit as part of the
project to improve internet service by bringing fiber optic cable to the home.
PHOTO BY BARBARA SCHNEIDER

Troon, internet task force updates delivered at Community Coffee

By Barbara Schneider This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Another sizable crowd attended the Saturday, March 11 POA Community Coffee at The Clubhouse on Lake Sconti. The attraction? Progress reports from the Troon and internet task forces.

Regis Falinski, chair of the Troon Analysis and Negotiation Task Force, explained the POA likely could save money on everything from “healthcare for employees to paper napkins at Duffers” through Troon’s volume buying discounts.

The clubhouse continues to lose money, he said. A recent POA survey focused on the Food & Beverage department “shows room for improvement.”

Falinski stressed that the selection of an outside management firm has already been narrowed down to Troon by the POA board. “That’s not our job,” he added.

The purpose of this task force is to analyze and negotiate a potential management agreement with Troon; to make recommendations regarding terms and conditions, consider the potential resulting organization structure and offer a “go-no-go” recommendation on an agreement.

Communicating with property owners and seeking their feedback is a critical part of the task force’s charter, he added.

As part of the process, the Troon task force is charged with building a business case by identifying potential benefits and risks/costs that might result from contracting with Troon for management of the amenities.

On the plus side, he said, there are tangible benefits from Troon’s volume buying power that could reduce the cost of employee benefits, insurance and merchandise/supplies. Non-tangible advantages may include improved best practices golf course maintenance, marketing and golf course and clubhouse “top-line” growth.

The task force is factoring in tangible, quantifiable costs (e.g., Troon management fees, travel expenses) as well as intangible risks (e.g., loss of local control and the impact on Big Canoe’s character.)

Members of the Troon A&N Task Force include Jim Braley, Ham Gadd, Cindy Marushak, Tony Tebbutt and Falinski, who stressed that each member is a subject matter expert with specific business knowledge and/or experience. Phil Anderson and Steve Wilson are POA liaisons to the committee.

Internet Task force update

Paul Goldstein, Internet Task Force chair, opened his remarks by asking, “Why is this taking so long?” He then reviewed the many steps and actions that have been part of the process since the task force began in December 2014.

After many reviews and investigating several alternative solutions, the POA board selected Ellijay Telephone Company (ETC) as a potential provider, determined installing its own fiber optic network was the best approach and engaged an engineering firm for cost and engineering proposals.

The task force, Goldstein said, is currently working on five recommendations approved by the board at the February 23 POA meeting:
Recommendations

1. The POA:

  • allow AEG to present a proposal for the remainder of the engineering phase
  • retain an independent inspector for the construction phase of the project
  • continue to allow for independent oversight of the engineering plans that are developed
  • ask AEG for a “best and final” construction proposal, under the assumption that they are providing the engineering services

2. Pursue a vote after negotiating a not-to-exceed (NTE) agreement with AEG, but before committing to the remainder of the engineering.

3. Pursue further discussions with ETC about a sliding scale franchise fee structure.

4. Remain committed to keeping prices reasonable, maximizing uptake, and negotiating sliding scale increases with ETC.

5. Confer with ETC in exploring a deployment strategy that may reduce or eliminate ETC estimated $500k-$1M capital investment, thereby increasing their flexibility on re-negotiated franchise fees.

Internet Task Force members include: Dan Bishop, Gary Collier, Bob Crouch,
Bruce Friedman, Chair Paul Goldstein, Alex Henderson, Tim Moran, David Patton, Brian Plikaytis, Richard Rambo, Tom Williams.

Reporting on the progress of other POA task forces Phil Anderson said Water Task Force Chair Hollis Lathem, Phil Anderson, John Thompson, and Steve Wilson met with Ken Rice, who agreed to become a consultant to the task   force.

Questions from the audience

Lee Arthurs asked why the internet task force was working with two engineering firms. Goldstein replied that Palmetto would focus on quality control.

Barry Kaufman asked if the POA had contacted clubs that had terminated Troon. Falinski responded that the board did that as part of the decision to select Troon. Anderson added that the board made a concerted effort to find a club that wasn’t happy with Troon management. “We found our counterparts using Tron were very happy.” The board did reach one club that ended its relationship with Troon when it sold its golf course.

Brian Plikaytis asked if the Troon umbrella could be extended to the fire department so they would get the benefit of better insurance. That is likely, Anderson explained. There could be amenity and non-amenity personnel on the Troon payroll but only amenity employees would be managed by Troon.

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