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Board approves agreement with lender for solar project

Also, General Manager Jeff Matheson introduces interim CFO

By Sam Richards

Staff writer

(Friday, March 29) The GRF Board on Thursday unanimously approved an agreement with a lender that will help usher in the long-sought Solar Phase II project, in an arrangement that could save Rossmoorians as much as $11 million in electricity costs over the next 25 years.

The 25-year Power Purchase Agreement is with a “third party,” F&M Bank, which would initially own the solar panels to be placed over the Gateway parking lot (on standalone canopies) and on the roofs of the Event Center and soon-to-be-built pickleball facility next to the Event Center.

The agreement will allow GRF to buy the solar collection system 10 years into the agreement, at a cost of $575,000 for the Gateway collection apparatus and another $175,000 for the infrastructure at the Event Center and pickleball facility.

GRF would pay nothing at this point, GRF General Manager Jeff Matheson said, beyond some minimal consultants’ fees. F&M Bank would own the system initially and pass along tax incentive savings (for which GRF ultimately didn’t qualify on its own) in the form of lower electricity costs for GRF.

On March 14, Matheson told the GRF Planning Committee that the long-planned project to install solar panels above the Gateway parking lot may finally be nearing construction, with delays caused by the COVID pandemic and subsequent supply chain issues largely behind them.

Interim chief financial officer

On Thursday, Todd Arterburn was introduced as Rossmoor’s interim CFO, following the departure of Tom Hand, who left employment with GRF the previous day.

Arterburn started working in the accounting offices at MOD a short time earlier, helping on a few specific assignments.

“I’m really proud of the work they’re doing,” said Arterburn, noting that the accounting staff has been under added pressure replacing the Jenark master software program with a newer and more intuitive NetSuite program.

Matheson will lead the search for a new CFO. It won’t be Arterburn, who will remain with 2Go Advisory Group after GRF finds a permanent successor to Hand, who had been with GRF less than a year.

But Arterburn said Rossmoor is in good hands with him in the meantime and made a joke at his own expense. “It’s good to have a Scottish guy looking after your dollars,” he said.

Tennis Court resurfacing

The GRF Board voted 7-0 – Leanne Hamaji and Carol Lehr were absent Thursday – to reprioritize resurfacing of six of eight Buckeye tennis courts to a “Priority 1” project. As a “Priority 2” project work would not have begun until 2025. The vote moves work to later this year and includes spending up to $75,000 from the Trust Estate Funds, which are paid by the membership transfer fee.

Ann Mottola, GRF’s director of community services, said moving sooner on the work is prudent because the availability of vendors that perform tennis court resurfacing continues to decrease, and that going out for bids sooner is better than later.

Earlier in the meeting, Barbara Landberg of the Rossmoor Tennis Club implored the Board to move that resurfacing work to happen as soon as possible. The courts, she said, are becoming dangerous.

“It’s really a safety hazard,” Landberg said. “Somebody fell last week and needed stitches.”

Work on courts 7 and 8 will require “more robust” rejuvenation efforts, Mottola said.

Other Board actions

  • The Board heard the first reading for modifying the policy governing signs on GRF-controlled property – specifically including names for Rossmoor trails – to require approval of said signs by both the GRF Board and its Policy Committee (https://tinyurl.com/3bxstbv8). The Board’s actual vote on this is scheduled for April 25.
  • The Board voted to increase MOD’s billable hourly labor rate from $80 per hour to $90. Jeroen Wright, GRF’s director of Mutual operations, said the increase is needed to better attract and retain carpenters and others to work for MOD. Labor rates for other area employers of carpenters, Wright said, vary from $95 to $120 per hour. Six of Rossmoor’s 16 carpenter positions were vacant as of Thursday, Wright added. The increase, he added, is designed to keep more carpenters on the rolls in Rossmoor, get more maintenance done and save the Mutuals money in the long run.
  • The Board heard an update on GRF’s Emergency Operations Plan, a plan for GRF managers and employees (not residents) in the event of a catastrophic event in Rossmoor. The plan is a collaboration between GRF and various public safety partners, including the Walnut Creek Police Department, City of Walnut Creek, Lafayette Police Department, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (ConFire), CERT, American Red Cross, Rossmoor’s Emergency Preparedness Organization (EPO) and others.

And finally …

As happens at virtually all GRF Board meetings, a liaison member of the Walnut Creek City Council on Thursday addressed the board on issues they believe to be relevant to Rossmoor. For the second straight month, Walker brought up to Councilman Kevin Wilk the seemingly slow speed with which city permits – specifically, needed permits for the new pickleball facility and for replacing roof panels at the Tice Creek pool – are being granted. Walker said he wants the process to move faster.

“One thing we know in Rossmoor is that time is not necessarily on our side,” Walker said to much laughter.

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