Submitted by Sharyl Mueller
Ona Alpert and Todd Josselyn are our newest neighbors at 55 South Slob. At the annual GAPOA meeting in January, Ona expressed her concern about the volume of trash in her front yard beach, “it’s kind of depressing and sad. But it’s a worldwide problem. It’s not unique to just us.”
As a young girl, Ona spent winters with her parents on St. Croix at Coakley Bay. She remembers the crystal clear blue water so naturally she introduced her husband, a Vermont native and contractor, to the island. He got hooked too and about a decade ago, the couple decided to buy a home here. “St. Croix has so much beauty. It’s special. It has a little of everything. And I like the people; they are warm, friendly and helpful.”
Ona was nominated for the job as Adjunct Beach Coordinator after she told homeowners her Christmas day story, “from my back porch, I could see big pieces of trash on the beach. When I got down there I saw pieces of fishing lines, plastic bottles and smaller trash. Alone, I filled 5 big trash bags and 5-gallon buckets.”
Within three weeks, the beach trash returned; Fisherman’s Beach was the worst, says Ona. “I’d like to spark a little extra sense of responsibility in our community to say – I’m not gonna walk past that, I”m going to pick it up.”
Ona is coordinating the April 2nd cleanup, slated to begin at 8am. She’ll send out email reminders and confirm the meeting location. Ona, a warm, thoughtful and energetic homeowner, reminds us all, “Make things better, that’s our purpose in life.”
GRAPETREE AREA PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC.
2015 PRESIDENT’S REPORT
I hope 2015 was a good year for all and this letter finds you in good health and good spirits. This year’s Annual Meeting is scheduled for January 16, 2016, 4 PM at the St Croix Yacht Club. Light food will be provided and a cash bar available prior to and during the meeting.
In my March 2015 Report I stated the affairs of the Association were being effectively managed by your Board and its financial position was improving. Today I am pleased to report that your Association is even stronger and is positioned well to execute our 2016 plans to improve the roadways, enhance our web site, increase our collection activity and to continue to advance our automated record retention plans. Our revenues are above budget by over $20,000 and our expenses are below budget by over $20,000, giving the Association a $40,000 cash surplus vs. budget as of November 2015. Revenue was over budget primarily due to the Board’s execution of a more aggressive collection plan and expenses were under budget due to reduced property taxes and lower brush cutting cost.
Our roadways held up nicely this year due in part to the lower rain fall, causing less erosion and less vegetation growth and also in part by the Board’s management of the roadway improvements over the past several years. New estate signage was added this year that should help emergency vehicles better find property locations. The Board request that all members that do not have their plot number posted on their home to please do so. More road paving is planned for 2016.
We had success in reducing our assessed values on our five tax bills for road and drainage plot that the Association owns, creating an annual tax savings of over $2100. The Association also received a refund on the over payment of 2013 taxes.
The execution of our 2015 collection plan resulted in exceeding goal by over $20,000. New liens were placed on twelve past-due members this year after all efforts to collect failed. Our goal is to exhaust all collection avenues prior to seeking legal action. We need better contact information on our past due members to help us resolve these issues.
The new Web Site was launched in May 2015. The new platform will allow the Board to better manage the content and to provide more useful information to our members. Please visit the Site for more information about GAPOA at www.gapoa.com. You can update your contact information on line including your address, email and phone number which will allow the Board to effectively communicate with you.
Enclosed in this Annual Meeting Announcement packet is the 2016 Meeting Agenda, 2015 Annual Meeting Minutes, 2016 proposed Board of Directors Slate, Invoice for the 2016 assessment, Proxy Form to be completed if you cannot attend the meeting naming any Member, Officer or Board Member to vote your proxy, and a RSVP form with a request to update your contact information. Please complete the required forms and return with your $300 annual assessment.
To be eligible to vote at the Annual Meeting members must be current on their 2015 assessments. For those members that are past due and would like to discuss resolution with me please call me at 860-326-9548.
We have a couple of Board slots open for 2016 and will be soliciting members at the annual meeting to join the Board. We need your help and voice to continue the good work of the Association. Please consider volunteering. You will enjoy it and it takes little personal time.
Hope to see a big turnout for a fun evening at the Annual meeting.
James E Pedrick
Closet To Closet, Shabby Chic Corner and The Home Store are all located at 15 Peter’s Rest. The stores are open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Phone: (340)773-2503.
Closet To Closet is our main store with clothing, toys, books and more on sale to the general public. Clothing and household items are provided free of charge to those in need through our Crisis Center. Viviana Cohen, the store’s manager, is assisted by a staff of dedicated volunteers. Closet To Closet is open Tuesday through Saturday.
Shabby Chic Corner, located inside Closet To Closet, is open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Our “boutique” offers gently-used designer clothing and accessories at deeply discounted prices. Qiyamah Rahman is Shabby Chic Corner’s coordinator.
The Home Store has higher-end furnishings, appliances, dishes and artwork. Looking for furniture or home accessories for a new house or to jazz up the style factor in your home? Come on in! Realtors, we’ve got home goods for staging properties, too! The Home Store’s entrance is behind Closet To Closet, past the shoe repair store and around the corner.s We are open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Pattie Nicastro is the manager of The Home Store.
Click here for a listing of special sale days in all our stores.
HELP US WITH YOUR DONATIONS
Doing some seasonal cleaning or downsizing? Your generosity helps to keep our stores open, with great bargains accessible to everyone in the community. Donate your gently-used items to our stores. We can arrange pick up for large pieces of furniture or appliances. Call us at(340)773-2503 for more information.
THANK YOU FOR CARING!
Around Christmas time, driving in the evening on the South Shore Road ½ mile east of the Divi Casino resort brings an unexpected treat. You will be charmed by a beautiful display of Christmas lights unlike any other on St. Croix. Angels, reindeer, a nativity scene and palm trees wrapped in miniature lights illuminate the entrance to Bella Sera, the spectacular oceanfront home of Larry and Peg Meyer.
Larry and Peg came to St. Croix in 1972 when Sun Country airlines was running direct flights from Minneapolis to our lovely island. They chose St. Croix because it was the cheapest package deal out of the Minnesota cold that they could find! They began returning to this island every few years until 1993 when they completed their pink ocean front vacation home, Paradise Point. They then became regular visitors to the island, renting their villa to visitors when they were not there themselves. Over the years they had visited almost every Caribbean island and when they decided to sell their Minnesota businesses and retire, they decided that St. Croix still captured their heart, and they would build their retirement home right next door to Paradise Point.
The Meyers met at St. Cloud State University when Peg recruited Larry for the college yearbook organization she was involved in. They dated during the college years and got married the day after Larry finished his finals. Always up for an adventure, they went camping across Canada for six weeks on their honeymoon.
Uncle Sam called shortly after, and Larry joined the Army Reserve doing public relations projects for the military. Later he worked for the Governor of Minnesota, Wendell Anderson, while Peg taught English and Speech in high school. Peg started another career as the PR director for St. Theresa’s college in Winona, Minnesota and later became Publications Director for St. Cloud State University. Larry started a business out of their St. Cloud, MN home in 1976 and expanded the business to fundraising and teleservices. Two years later, Peg started her own marketing and advertising company. A data processing company was added to the mix and in the years that followed they got involved in flipping real estate properties – from houses to old hotels – and Meyer Commercial Real Estate was born. At its peak, the “Meyer Companies” had over 400 employees in St. Cloud, Little Falls, and northern Minnesota’s iron range city of Eveleth.
They were both very civically active in St. Cloud, Minnesota to the point that Larry was elected mayor of that town! They raised their three daughters, Heather, Tiffany and Crystal in St. Cloud and then the empty-nesters started to think of retiring to a warmer climate,
Their newest home, Bella Sera (“Beautiful Evening” in Italian) is a commanding golden color with a deep blue roof. The plans took eighteen months for the permitting process and the house took four years to build. The south facing roofs have solar panels and produce a peak of 8500 watts of electricity at noon. They did most of the painting and finishing work themselves on the house, staining each mahogany door and window with three coats of stain. It was a labor of love but any visitor to Bella Sera can see the passion and attention to detail given to this fabulous home. They did all the sourcing and buying from Miami. Peg sketched all the tile patterns herself and none are repeated throughout the home.
To understand the Meyer’s retirement work here on the island, it is necessary to flash back. While still living in Minnesota, they had a religious conversion experience, eventually leading to Peg’s decision in 2001 to sell her advertising agency and get a master’s degree in Theology from the Institute of Pastoral Theology through Ave Maria University in Florida.
Their religious faith is a strong theme in their lives, and they even built a small chapel in Bella Sera. They are very active in their Catholic faith community and give readily of their time and talent for the church. Peg is a volunteer Bible teacher and instructs 7th through 12th graders at St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s Schools. Larry also serves on the board of the Virgin Islands Boys and Girls Club, continuing his work for youth that started in Minnesota.
When asked what they love most about St. Croix, they have a hard time coming up with one answer. Larry appreciates the weather, the sea and the sun and the fact that he can walk around in his bare feet 100% of the time. Not a pleasure enjoyed by native Minnesotans who live much of the year in frigid temperatures. Peg brings up the warmth and caring that a majority of the people on St. Croix exhibit. She says there is really something special about them in way they care about each other, letting people go ahead in traffic, not being in a hurry and taking the time to greet everyone. She feels that since the refinery closed there seems to be more of a sense of urgency and people are more worried about life.
Both of them talk about the difficulty of “getting things done” here compared to the mainland but feel that having the right attitude is everything to making a successful and happy life here. They encourage people not to think of life as a series of tasks, but rather an adventure to be savored and explored. Today they greatly enjoy seeing their grandchildren discover the joys of island living that their daughters first experienced years ago. There is much to see and do on St. Croix and many opportunities to get involved. Larry and Peg Meyer certainly practice this in their daily lives and are happy to call St. Croix, and specifically Bella Sera, “Home”
Rob Bidelspacher’s family settled in Williamsport Pennsylvania in 1832. An adventurous lot, Rob’s father, Charles Bidelspacher had an outstanding legal career and practiced before the Supreme Court of the US. The family traveled extensively including a cruise to the West Indies in 1957 on the Mauritania, the sister ship of the Lucetania. They visited a number of islands on that trip, including St. Thomas and Haiti. One of Rob’s memories from that time was taking a photo of Papa Doc’s palace and having his camera smashed by security guards. A scary experience for a young boy.
While on St. Thomas, the family heard good things about St Croix and came to investigate. Rob started the first of numerous visits to the island, staying with a Danish classmate of his from Mercersberg Academy Prep School in Pennsylvania. The classmate was Eric Laewetz who had a home at St. Croix by the Sea. Then, St. Croix by the Sea had the largest salt water pool in the western hemisphere, or so Eric said!
After high school, Rob went on to Denison University as an undergrad in economics. His brother majored in Sociology, and his sister studied French and African studies at Tufts and later joined the United Nations. Rob went on to law school at American University during the Vietnam era and in 1966 Uncle Sam called and he was drafted. Then, the US Army Reserve was becoming the Military Police and he was sworn in as an MP and gave instruction at Fort Ord in California on the Monterey Peninsula. He volunteered to teach the Geneva and Hague Conventions. He spent six years from 1967 to 1973 in the Army Reserves in Puerto Rico and St. Croix. He had to survive economically so he took his real estate exam in 1968 and his broker’s exam in 1969.
Elaine grew up on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia and later lived in Holland and Switzerland. Her father was a power engineer and had worked in Panama in WW2. When Elaine was sixteen, her father was offered the #2 position in the VI Water and Power Authority. She did her senior year here on St. Croix and like all good St. Croix families enjoyed the social activities that were put on at the yacht club. The St. Croix Yacht Club was started in 1954, and by the late 50’s they had a fireplace and one room with a roof. By the 1960s it was the center of the social life on the island for sailing and gathering. Different families took turns in the kitchen each week. Rob had been a national champion in the Sail Fish class and brought the first 3 sun fish to the Yacht Club. There were movie nights at the club and it was at one such night where Rob noticed a pretty girl reading a book. He decided to approach her, introduced himself and asked if he could join her. She put the book down, shrugged her shoulders and lifted the book back up again! Rob took this as a “Yes” and sat down to talk to her. They dated for a while and married at St. John’s Anglian Church with their wedding reception at Spratt Hall. They had their honeymoon in Austria. They have two sons, TJ their first born, lives on St. Croix and works as a chef at Cheeseburgers. Their younger son, Kevin lives in Florida and has two little girls aged five and two.
One of the defining moments in their life, was the arrival of Hurricane Hugo in 1989 that brought winds more than 250 miles per hour. Rob speaks of the five features of the hurricane that made it particularly dangerous. It moved on a diagonal across the island, was a category 5 hurricane, moved slowly and stayed a long time hitting every square inch of the island. The last feature was that the Governor at the time, Alexander Farrily defaulted by not realizing the situation was as dire as it was. There was 70 to 90% devastation. Rob has been on the advisory counsel for hurricane preparedness through three different administrations.
Their home at #3 North Grapetree Bay survived Hurricane Hugo, sustaining damage that they have since repaired. Elaine and Rob are active members of the community and have contributed their knowledge and expertise many times for the benefit of the Grapetree Association. They have always been a great resource for the history of the area and have many stories to tell.
GAPOA gathered on January 21st. 2012 for the Annual General Meeting at the beautiful home of Larry and Peg Meyer 50 South Slob, St. Croix. The agenda, posted previously, is outlined below. After the meeting a delightful appetizer buffet was enjoyed by all attending GAPOA members. The minutes of the meeting will be posted in this location after the first board meeting in March.
Call to Order
Board of Directors – self introduction
New Board Members Introduction – Jan Buell, Becky Snodgras
Approval of Minutes of 2011 Annual General Meeting
President’s Report- Evelyn Carlin
Roads- Barry Edwards/Roger Rothwell
Collections – John Robers
Architectural Review -Gayle Moore
Legal – Steve Larchuk
Beach – Stuart Taylor
Nominating – Colette Diegel
Communications – Jim Pedrick
Election of 2012 Officers and Directors
Introduce New 2012 Slate