South of the Creek Project

Email Response to a Concerned VGC Homeowner

Thank you for your letter to the VGC Master Homeowners Association. The Board shared your letter with me because I am the volunteer chairman of the “South of the Creek” Committee. Other residents and members of the The South of the Creek Committee provide voluntary mowing and weed control around the walking trail south of Garrison Creek….and make recommendations to the Board for other needed maintenance.

I met you briefly on the walking trail south of my residence on Garrison Creek. You are obviously ardent environmentalists, which I admire. I regret that you view our work thus far as “destruction of natural beauty” because our objective has been to retain the natural beauty, but reduce/eliminate some of the “troublesome” aspects of the forest meeting a suburban, residential area. Nevertheless, I welcome an active dialogue with you about our objectives and methods for maintenance of the walking trail area south of the Creek.

For background, my wife and I built in Phase 6 of the Villages in 2002. We chose to build in the Villages because of the aesthetics of the construction, layout and yard maintenance, which obviously adds to “curb appeal” of our residences….but equally as important, the presence of the beautiful walking trail, which we actively use. Other neighbors who border Garrison Creek and I, who also consider ourselves environmentalists, watched in dismay for years as previous HOA Boards ignored grounds maintenance of the area south of the Creek under a “wilderness” concept that resulted in:

1) Blackberries overrunning the trail, the Creek and our backyards;
2) Cottonwood trees close to residences not being removed before they became oversized and fragile, causing damage to houses, patios and other structures, and;
3) For one section between Bridges 2 and 3, willow trees close to residences not being thinned, resulting in overgrowth and an infestation of aphids that deposit a noxious, oily layer on neighbors’ houses, patios and patio furniture.

We have consulted extensively with arborist Andy Asmus and College Place City Planner Jon Rickard…and Dave Karl of the WA Fish and Wildlife Department has walked the Creek with us…as we have developed our action plans to more actively manage grounds maintenance south of the Creek. The work we have done to date fundamentally defines the structure and the footprint of what we see as the best balance we can achieve between “natural beauty” and maintainability of the area south of the Creek. Approximately $20,000 of HOA dues was spent for large cottonwood and willow removal in 2016. The remainder of the work has largely been done by homeowners close to the Creek at their expense (estimated at a minimum of $60,000) supplemented by volunteer labor.

1) We have, for the most part, pushed back the blackberries as far as we need to so we can maintain a mowed border next to the walking trail and the large pasture south of Bridge 1. Our future plans are to continue blackberry removal as they try once again to encroach on our walking trail and the Creek itself. In areas that are currently cleared, we will also continue removal of volunteer trees and brush that provide “trellises” for the blackberries.
2) We have removed a good number of the oversized, fragile cottonwood trees that were hazardous to residences along the Creek and whose roots have broken out parts of the walking trail south of the Creek. Approximately 20 additional large cottonwoods close to residences will be on our list for removal later this year. After that, we will continue to remove volunteer cottonwoods and existing cottonwoods that are causing new threats as they grow larger. What we hope will be the result will be a maintainable, wooded walking trail complete with multiple species of trees, including cottonwoods that aren’t threatening to residences.
3) We will continue selective thinning of overabundant large willows close to residences between Bridge 2 and Bridge 3. We need to reduce the number of the trees so we can better address aphid control in the remaining trees. This work will not dramatically address the “shade” in that area, because 70% to 90% of the trees will remain.

Finally, you should anticipate additional new plantings, some at individual homeowners’ expense and some at HOA expense this Spring/Summer and in the future. Weekly mowing and noxious weed control in the area south of the Creek will continue to be provided by Roger Williams and me….at our expense.

Please bear with us. I truly believe our objectives are more closely aligned with yours than you currently believe. I repeat…I welcome a continuing dialogue. We don’t have all the answers and respect/appreciate constructive input and volunteer labor as we work to keep the wonderful area south of the Creek beautiful and maintainable.


Ray Goff

MPMA Board Special Session & Newsletter

MPMA Board Special Session Announcement

To: VGC Phase Leaders and interested homeowners

From: Dick Cook, MPMA acting president

The MPMA Board will meet Tuesday 2 May at 6:00 pm at Baker Boyer Bank, Plaza Branch Conference Room in special session. Key issues will include a response Phase 10’s formal succession proposal, filling the board position vacated by Ray Goff, and adjournment to executive session to continue Phase 14 exit negotiations.


South of the Creek Volunteer Day, Tree/Limb/Brush Clean-up, was a Success

by Ray Goff

Our sincere thanks to the 40 Homeowners who turned out to help with the VGC Volunteer Day clean-up along the walking trail south of Garrison Creek on Sunday April 30th. We had substantial amounts of storm and winter damage with many broken cottonwood limbs and trees. We also took advantage of the volunteer labor, e.g. Scott Towslee to get us off to a great start on removing dangerous cottonwoods along the walking trail. We still plan to have Town & Country Landscaping in later this year for the second year of removing some of our highest-priority, dangerous cottonwoods along the walking trail. We will have the large piles of limbs we made chipped when Town & Country is in later this year – but this super effort by all of our neighbor volunteers will save the Villages an estimated $5,000 vs. having Town & Country do the work. The work done in the last week will also simplify Roger Williams and my mowing south of the Creek this summer.

Another example of why it’s so GREAT living in the Villages.. THANKS VOLUNTEERS!!

Ray Goff
South-of-the-Creek Committee


Architectural Review Committee

by Michele Wollert

1. Spring and summer bring more guests to the Villages.  The volunteer members of the Architectural Review Committee (ARC)  need your help in remembering that overnight parking for guests should be in driveways, not the street.

Also, please remember that guests, residents, and service vehicles may park short-term on the street during the day, but they must park ONLY on the side of the street that is reserved for temporary parking.  Signs indicate which side of the street is for temporary day parking.  Fire hydrants and mail boxes should never be blocked.

These parking restrictions are a safety issue to protect clear and quick passage of emergency vehicles (ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks) on our narrow and winding streets. It is not an arbitrary rule meant to annoy or inconvenience our residents and guests.

2. Every Spring, ARC undertakes a review of the homes that may need new paint, roof maintenance, or other obvious repairs.  Reminder letters will be sent to those homeowners by the end of May.  Gary’s Paint in Walla Walla (2nd and Poplar) has most of the Villages approved color samples to view, so check there first. You can change your house colors, but the choice must be approved by Doug Botimer, who knows what colors are within the ranges that coordinate with existing house and fence colors. There is only one approved white trim color (C-3) and Gary’s Paint has that formula.

Many thanks for your help in keeping the Villages safe, clean, and beautiful. Contact ARC at this email with your questions or requests:


Block/Crime Watch Program for the Villages

by Daryl Schreiner

I am in the process of contacting Sgt. Benfield to set a time date and place for the orientation and organization of a Crime Watch Program for the Villages. At this point I am shooting for the week of the 8th of May and will be in contact as soon as I can firm this up.


Walla Walla City Council signs off on shift for homeless camp
Reported by

Walla Walla’s homeless camp near the city golf course will be moved to the City Services Center across the street from police headquarters and operate as a sleeping center, the Walla Walla City Council voted 6-0 in a packed meeting Wednesday night. Read more..


A Playground for Fort Walla Walla Park

Rogers Junior High Advanced Studies, and Mrs. Wessman’s first and second grade class have spent the past year and a half working to build a playground in Fort Walla Walla Park. These 8th graders have written multiple grants, presented to boards and businesses, and learned that they are capable of more than they thought. Read more..

Block Watch Orientation Update

WE HAVE 11 FOLKS SIGNED UP FOR THE BLOCK WATCH ORIENTATION PROGRAM WITH THE C.P.P.D. We still need representatives for Phases 2, 5, & 8….Also, I am wondering about representation from the W.W. Housing authority. Remember, this program is intended for all residents of The Villages….Talk it up with your friends and neighbors, and have them e-mail me at darco4321 at gmail dot com or my home phone at Five two five – seven six four six, so I can put them on the list…..Thanks, Daryl