Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Thanks for a Great 2015 Picnic-in-the-Park!

Thanks to the more than 300 Green Meadows West neighborhood homeowner-members who participated in the 9th Annual Picnic in the Park event, which was held in Dover Park last Sunday.

While adults relaxed and listened to live music from The Black Bird Circus, kids ran and played on inflatable play equipment, including a bounce house, obstacle course, and giant slide.

The Johnston Fire Department stopped by to give tours of a truck and ambulance. And Mayor Paula Dierenfeld addressed the crowd.

Catering was by Hy-Vee Foods. Thanks also to event sponsors Charter Bank and Flooring America. Door prizes were donated by Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches and Veridian Credit Union.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Give Your Mailbox a Little TLC Before the Snow Flies

PHOTO: U.S. Postal Service
Homeowners use their mailboxes nearly everyday. Real estate agents will tell you that a mailbox is a key element in a home’s curb appeal—it’s one of the first things a visitor sees of a property. The U.S. Postal Service even recommends annual check-ups, ensuring that mail carriers can safely approach and access residential mailboxes, that addresses are clearly identified, and that delivered mail is protected from the elements.

More tips include:
  • Tighten loose hinges on the door.
  • Take care of rusty or loose parts.
  • Replace missing or faded house numbers.
The Green Meadows West Homeowners’ Association has covenants governing the appearance and function of mailboxes: Mailboxes are to be black, with white house numbers, with an open attachment into which newspapers and flyers can be delivered. The attachment is necessary because federal law stipulates that only homeowners and postal carriers may access the interior of a mailbox, and that only postage-bearing materials may be placed into a mailbox. The law also stipulates that materials may not be hung, stuck, or otherwise attached to a mailbox.

When the Green Meadows West neighborhood was first developed by a real estate subsidiary of Pioneer Hi-Bred in the early 1990s, the paint specified was an olive or brown color. After that color was no longer available on the market, all plats within the association migrated to an all-black alternative. While there are still olive-brown mailboxes found in the neighborhood, these are expected to change with maintenance.

“The intent behind requiring a uniform-look is to put the aesthetic focus on houses, not mailboxes,” says neighborhood association board member Jack Sullivan.

The Johnston Ace Hardware store at 5800 Merle Hay Rd. is the designated vendor of Green Meadows West mailboxes. A pole and base costs $178.50. A mailbox, which includes the newspaper attachment, costs $20. Installation is available for $75. House numbers are $1 each.

Hardware store owner Gordon Sterk says that, unless a mailbox has been hit by a car or truck, total replacement is often unnecessary. “All you have to do is sand down the pole, paint it a [satin] back, and maybe replace the mailbox itself,” he says.

“Four stainless steel screws attach it to the base—no need to spend $200.” Johnston Postmaster Joleen Bolger reminds homeowners that mailboxes should have functional red flags. When raised, these indicate to carriers that outgoing mail is present.

“Unless they have mail for a given address, or they see a raised flag, postal carriers aren’t required to stop.” Keeping mailboxes clear of obstacles, such as trash cans or parked vehicles, is also important. “Postal carriers are not able to dismount their vehicles, unless it’s to deliver a package,” she says.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Save the date! 2015 'Picnic in the Park' is Sept. 13!

The 9th Annual Green Meadows West “Picnic in the Park” event will be held Sun., Sept. 13, from 4 to 7 p.m., near the neighborhood’s signature gazebo located on the association’s privately maintained “Dover Park.” Other days, the park is available for rental through the association manager.

A free catered barbecue pork or chicken dinner by Hy-Vee will be served to association members and families.

Live music will be provided The Black Bird Circus, a pick-up combo featuring local folk, rock, and other artists, headed up by musician Steve Kowbel.

Inflatable play equipment for younger children will include a bounce house, obstacle course, and giant slide.

Our growing list of sponsors includes: Charter Bank, Flooring America, Jimmy Johns, and Veridian Credit Union.

City leaders and staff–including fire, police, and other personnel–will also be available to meet with Green Meadows West neighbors during the event. Library staff will conduct an interactive story time for younger kids.

See you there!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

2015 Educational Prairie Tour Schedule Starts Thursday, May 28

The Green Meadows West Homeowners Association has announced a fourth series of educational walking tours for the 2015 summer season. Led by expert Inger Lamb of Prairie Landscapes of Iowa LLC, neighbors of all ages are invited to learn about the plants of the neighborhood's more than 12 acres of prairie.

The 2015 dates are:
  • Thurs., May 28
  • Tues., June 16
  • Wed., July 8
  • Wed., July 8
  • Thurs., July 30
  • Thurs., Aug. 20
  • Wed., Sept. 9
Walks begin at 7 p.m. at the Windsor Park trailhead, located near the intersection of Windsor Parkway and King's Row. The path through the neighborhood's central prairie is paved.

While the tours usually last about an hour, participants are welcome to come and go as their schedules require. Children are welcome, too. The beginning of the summer season is an ideal time to observe progress on association efforts to maintain and improve storm water drainage through the prairie, as well as to hear about efforts to develop a new prairie area adjacent to a new bike trail connection to N.W. 62nd Avenue.

Prairie events are part of a comprehensive prairie restoration program administered by the association's board of directors. Attendees will learn to identify various types of native and non-native plants, and discussions will often focus on how neighbors can help maintain and improve the quality of the area's showcase landscape.

The prairie area is a unique feature of the Green Meadows West neighborhood, which was originally designed and developed by a subsidiary of the Pioneer Hy-Bred company, now known as DuPont Pioneer.

In addition to running a native landscape restoration and maintenance business, Lamb is a past contributor to publications such as Woodlands & Prairies magazine.

A list of articles of potential interest to prairie enthusiasts is available at her business website here. Resource lists, including planting recommendations for rain garden and native landscapes, are available here.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Neighborhood Prairie Burn to Continue Tues., March 31

Stantec, Inc. professionals conducted a partial prairie burn along Foxboro Road earlier today, Mon., March 30. They'll continue to monitor wind and humidity conditions for safety, and plan to begin work again approximately 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, Tues., March 31. PHOTO: DeAnn Lee
The Green Meadows West Homeowners’ Association board has retained environmental consultants Stantec, Inc. to manage and conduct a prescribed burn of prairie restoration areas this spring.

The areas affected include the main prairie east of Windsor Park and west of Foxboro Road; a small area southwest of the intersection of Foxboro Road and Chambery Boulevard; and a newer area south of Weybridge Court and east of Kings Row, which was created after the City of Johnston cleared an area to improve storm water run-off.

Stantec conducted a similar burn on behalf of the homeowners’ association in 2012. Prior to that, burns were conducted using a mix of expert consultants and volunteer labor. Volunteers are no longer used, due to training requirements and liability concerns.

"Prescribed fire is a common prairie management tool,” notes Green Meadows West prairie committee chairman Greg Knoploh. “Prairie species benefit from fire, which was common when most of Iowa was covered by prairie. The fire turns the dried plant material into ashes, which fertilizes. Increased light and heat reach the surface. Invasive plants that do not tolerate fire are reduced."

In addition to serving as a neighborhood showcase, the Green Meadows West prairies serve as visual buffer areas among homes, as wildlife habitat, and even as occasional learning laboratories for area schools and colleges.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Board Seeks to Shine Light on Chambery Street Lamp Outages

Ornamental street lamps in Green Meadows West are owned and maintained
by your homeowners' association.
In a letter this week to Green Meadows West neighbors who live on Chambery Boulevard, homeowners' association President David Erbes illuminated potential reasons why ornamental street lamps along that street have remained dark since mid-December, and what your association is doing to fix the problem. Homeowner-members have variously expressed security and safety concerns through communications with the association, the City of Johnston, and the Mid-American Energy Co.

"Residents are very anxious to have the lights restored," the letter reads, in part. "I would strongly suggest that you keep on the exterior lights on the fronts of your homes and garages, from dusk to dawn until the problem is repaired."

Ornamental street lamps in the neighborhood are owned and maintained by the Green Meadows West Homeowners Association. They are a distinctive aesthetic element in the neighborhood. More standard, non-ornamental street lamps found elsewhere in the neighborhood are maintained by the City of Johnston. Exacerbating the reporting problem, when individual homeowners initially complained to Mid-American Energy, customer-service reps there first responded to calls as if they were separate residential outages, rather than a neighborhood-wide problem.

Association Manager Cyndy Rath, working on behalf of the board of directors in late December, subsequently clarified ownership of the street lamps with Mid-American Energy. Because the outage apparently involves an underground power line, the utility company as of January 5 dispatched a sub-contractor to further diagnose and repair the outage.

Company personnel cautioned that such repairs can take from 30 to 45 days or more during winter months. However, association board members express hope that warmer weather and lack of snow may speed the repair. Further updates are pending.

At this time, the outage is not thought to be related to a large municipal storm water drainage project currently underway west of N.W. 86th Street, nor commercial construction on the Northwest corner of N.W. 86th Street and Chambery Boulevard.

If you have questions about this or other neighborhood maintenance issues, please contact Association Manager Cyndy Rath at: 515.222.5206; cyndyrath@knappproperties.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Annual Meeting to be held Jan. 27 at Crown Point Center

The annual meeting of Green Meadows West Homeowners’ Association members is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Tues., Jan. 27, 2015, at the Crown Point Community Center, 6300 Pioneer Parkway, Johnston.

The association’s officers and board of directors will present reports regarding 2014 activities, and a 2015 budget. Members must be in good standing, with all fees paid, in order to vote. Meeting materials will be mailed to homeowners prior to the annual meeting.

Proxies may be assigned to the board for purposes of achieving quorum, or may be assigned to a neighbor who plans to attend. Those who attend or who return proxies will be eligible for door prizes.

For more info, contact Association Manager Cyndy Rath at: 515.222.5206; cyndyrath@knappproperties.