Jonathan in Chaska is a homeowners community which stretches across 2,200 acres, 23 neighborhoods, and includes approximately 8,000 of the city’s residents. As the largest HOA in Minnesota, Jonathan has 20 miles of paved trails and 100 acres of common space with 19 tot lots, 34 neighborhood entrance monument areas, 40 sheltered mail stations and bus stops, community vegetable gardens, several historic landmarks including two old German family farm houses (each circa 1900), and a popular winter "sliding hill” recreation area. Jonathan also owns and maintains the Lake Grace beach area and pavilion.
"The decision to hire a professional property management company a couple of years ago was crucial to our Association’s future,” says Jonathan President Nate Bostrom. "Now the Board can spend more of its time and efforts focusing on innovation, visioning and leading this, the largest homeowners association in Minnesota.”
Jonathan provides a wide array of property maintenance services and solutions: landscaping/pond maintenance, snow removal, grounds keeping, irrigation, shelter maintenance, trails/trees maintenance, maintenance supplies and repairs, contracted labor, and refuse removal.
By offering as many "in-house” services as possible – as opposed to contracting out to vendors – Jonathan delivers substantial annual savings to its homeowners. Also, all of its tools, equipment, and motorized maintenance vehicles are owned outright. This gives the Association powerful leverage for holding down annual maintenance costs for the thousands of Chaska residents who live in Jonathan neighborhoods.
The tools, equipment and maintenance vehicles are currently being stored in the Lake Grace pavilion, which was designed as a recreational facility among the beach front amenities of Lake Grace. However, for most of the past decade this original intent has been thwarted by the extended "temporary” solution of storing maintenance resources in this building – and homeowner discontent has been increasing.
The Lake Grace pavilion is a two mile round trip from the Association headquarters. Access, via pick-up truck, is accomplished by driving on a paved recreational biking/hiking trail. Special care must be taken by maintenance staff on each round trip as there are often multiple groups of school children, homeowners, and other Chaska residents using this trail in the recreational manner for which it was intended.
In April 2009 the Jonathan Board included an equipment storage assessment on its list of strategic priorities. The exhaustive research produced a compilation of 32 data points across 6 different management categories (staff efficiency factors, environmental considerations, aesthetic concerns, staff and asset security advantages, a needs analysis, and a cost-benefit evaluation) which was presented to the Jonathan Board at its October 2009 meeting. In the opinion of Board member Maria Awes, the information compiled and provided by the property manager was "extremely impressive, very thorough and complete. It gave us all the data we needed, including a complete inventory and status of all our tools and equipment.” Board members voted unanimously to move forward and construct an equipment storage facility at the Association headquarters, as was recommend by the property manager.
Even though a project of this size will require substantial "up front” financial commitment, the Board believes it’s in the best long-term interest of all its homeowners to have an equipment storage facility in a central location and physically near to the staff offices. The decision is projected to produce an annual average savings in staff time, salary costs and fuel charges equal to the purchasing power (based upon current contract rates) of dozens of additional boulevard trees throughout all 23 Jonathan neighborhoods.
"Our professional property management company came through for us in a big way,” said Board member Jim Battenberg. "They provided us with a ‘big picture’ focus and it made our decision as a Board an easy one to make.”
The City of Chaska – via its Heritage Preservation Commission, Planning Commission, and the City Council – has since approved Jonathan’s request for a conditional use permit for the building of an equipment storage facility. The start of construction is planned for later this spring and summer.
"One of the most important assignments of an association Board is to maintain and improve all of the physical amenities and facilities,” says Bostrom. "This includes preparing recommendations and appropriate budgets based upon our known current and perceived future needs. As a group of volunteer directors, the Jonathan Board has come to rely heavily upon the experience and professional expertise of our property management company in serving our homeowners.”