Saddlebrook's Lockdown Reflections Newsletter
Updated: Oct 7, 2020
2020 has definitely been one for the books, and we are only in August. This is our second Newsletter for the year, and would like to give interested parties a look behind the scenes. The Covid lockdown kept us on our toes and we are glad to report that as an Estate, we did well given that we didn’t go into the hard lockdown many South Africans were faced with. Residents were courteous and considerate, as far as we are aware. Nothing untoward came of our approach to the restrictions that came with the lockdown. From a security point of view, we also had no incidents, even though many of our neighbors on the perimeter were unfortunately affected. A big thanks goes out to Servest, SOAT and the group of residents led by Nico van Staden, that gave of their time to assist in keeping our perimeter intact. Special mention also goes out to Jacques and Fernando from SOAT who were all too obliging to assist whenever called upon. These were truly unchartered waters for all concerned. On the financial side, Covid did slow down the legal process of collecting outstanding levies. With the courts shutdown, getting summons issued was no longer available to us, so we have had a go slow for 3 months in this regard. Anne has been her consistent self, keeping Stephen our attorney on track, and we hope to start seeing results soon. The summons for the arrears have been delivered. Quite a few residents have signed AODs and/or have made considerable efforts to catch up the arrears.
Covid has been harsh on many of our residents’ ability to make a living. Many are still trying to adapt to the new normal and we will assist within reason any resident in good standing.
Our Contract with our Security Providers is coming due at the end of November. We have approached or been approached by the following companies, in no particular order: Servest, SOAT, Thomson's Security, 24-7 Security, RSS and SpecialOps99 Even though we all get on famously, one of the main reasons we choose to live within an estate is the security aspect. We have met with all of the above, and some offer a like for like solution to what we currently have; and others have made suggestions as to where we should be going with our security solutions. This is our biggest monthly spend, and we should definitely spend some time at the AGM discussing the pros and cons to each approach and the cost implications thereof.
MANAGING AGENTS - INSPIRED MANAGEMENT
Since we haven’t received a single formal complaint, we have to assume that on the whole, the residents are happy with Inspired Management, and Mapitso in particular. As a Board, we have definitely been assisted by Stuart at our weekly meetings. He brings a wealth of knowledge and by managing a few estates, allows us to get insight on how other estates have addressed issues. The ladies at head office have also been up to the task of getting us the necessary information on a weekly basis. Stuart will be present at the AGM to handle the Financial part of the presentation.
Despite the tragic COVID-19 pandemic we find ourselves in, we as the estate have been busy with much needed maintenance and small upgrades to ensure that the property values do not decrease and aim to be a part of the top ten estates in the country.
We have had our tennis court resurfaced and are Wimbledon ready. I think a Saddlebrook Tennis League is what’s needed. We have also attended to the clubhouse swimming pool refurbishment and opted for fiber glass which would result for less pool maintenance, less chemicals required and overall cost saving. We look forward to summer swimming in the new pool. Here is hoping we get another 20-25 years from these amenities.
LIGHTING AND AESTHETICS
JD was tasked with setting up the 12 solar lighting poles along Partridge Road, to give us some ambient light along what could be our most vulnerable perimeter on the Estate. The idea is to take a stretch every 3 or 4 months, and keep installing the lights where required, on the perimeter. The idea was suggested by the Oversight Committee, and even though the effect isn’t one of stadium lighting, we can always at a later date add on, if the residents feel the need too.
Mark took on the improvement of our Main Entrance. There were many lights that were no longer working, or were so old as to be a burden in terms of electricity consumption. The 400W units were replaced with 30W LED’s, and the effect to the entrance is clearly noticeable. Our two ponies have also added to the look and feel of the equestrian theme.
JD is also placing six 50Watt solar lights at the park, just to get away from that dark void at night. Our hope is that it will become a small hive of activity for the kids, with the MTB track and some fishing in the dam. The landscape committee is constantly looking at small projects that will add value to our common areas, with little to no expense to the estate. JD has also been attending to the waterproofing of the clubhouse and park dam. At some point in the not too distant future, it would be great to have a borehole to keep these 2 dams filled, throughout the year. During summer it is easy enough, but winter is a challenge. Irrigating the parks off borehole would also be a win. We are tirelessly working on common areas to match the overall aesthetics of the estate. We will be focusing on the individual homes and request that owners start attending to that much needed maintenance eg: painting of fences and houses, and maintaining gardens and verges.
The Landscaping Committee has been very busy working with Servest to upgrade our common areas which are such an asset to any Estate. With the ever increasing high density developments surrounding us, open spaces are a valued commodity and we need to take pride in our green belts and maintain them to the highest standard to align ourselves with surrounding Estates.
We have added a feature to our lonely Main Gate entrance pot , two beautifully, locally made horse statues, which created quite a regal statement and were well received by many residents.
We have also decided to plant a hedge along the ICB side of the fence to screen off a very unsightly veggie garden as you drive in and out of our Estate . We hope to have a lovely screen hedge by the end of the year. All the plants that were removed will be used in the park.
Residents may have noticed that there were certain extremely eroded sections of the bridle paths that have now been ripped up in preparation to plant grass pods to lessen the erosion in the upcoming rainy season. Work has started on repairing and painting the cross country jumps for those enthusiastic equestrians who utilize our bridle paths. We had the tree fellers in to cut back overhanging branches along the electric fence line which were posing a security risk. The untidy growth along residents fences boarding the bridle path was also attended to by Servest .
The park across the road from the Clubhouse has had a major rejuvenation with the clearing and cutting of overgrown bushes and trees. Garden beds are being prepared at the park and plants are being planted which have been harvested from our existing beds. We are proud to mention that we are now producing our own compost that is gladly sponsored by our resident horses and we can’t wait to see the benefits of this after the rainy season.
The park benches are being refurbished, so residents can sit and enjoy watching the kids cycle along the track, which has been re-established; or merely sit and listen to the birdlife. The hide and bridge have been repaired for residents to enjoy when making use of the park. We have a few more exciting ideas and projects on the cards, and hope to have them up and running for our summer season. It has been lovely to see more residents now using their facilities.
MAINTENANCE OF ROADS
Another of Mark’s projects has been the improvement and maintenance of our roads. We appointed Simon Knutton as Engineer who was involved with the initial upgrade of our roads a few years back; and as per previous correspondence, made us aware of what should be done urgently versus what could wait. With the exception of our Main Entrance Road off Rose Rd, and the stretch from the Contractors Gate to the first intersection; the rest of the roads are in good shape with only minor issues to be attended to. The one area that needs to be attended to is outside No.9 / 10, where the fever trees are moving the pavers around. Thankfully it is an easy fix, and kudos for those that took the decision at the time to pave the corners/curves & intersections within the estate.
The Social Committee had a great line up of events as we started planning at the beginning of the year, but then lock down hit us and spoilt the fun. Our line up from now until the end of the year includes a Bicycle Skills morning and some good 'ol favourites that we are bringing back will be Halloween and a Christmas social. We assure you that as soon as lockdown is over, there will be many more events such as our monthly bar socials and wine tasting evenings.
DIARISE THIS YEAR'S AGM
The AGM date has been set for 25 August 2020. To accommodate social distancing we have booked the clubhouse of the Kyalami Country Club as we would be able to fit 50 owners in their function room as per the regulations. We would really like to provide in-depth feedback to owners as to where the estate is currently and the vision we have for the estate. It would be beneficial for owners to kindly attend.