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

The Villages of Garrison Creek (VGC) Newsletter

VGC Newsletter Digest
April 17, 2017

To: All VGC residents and homeowners


College Place to pick up yard debris next week (Wednesday)


Walking Trails Clean-up Day: Sunday April 30th from 2 to 4 PM
by Ray Goff

I’d like to schedule a clean-up day Sunday April 30th from 2 to 4 pm. If you can’t stay for 2 hours, please come & stay as long as you can. Please bring gloves.

The work I envision will be largely picking up fallen limbs around the walking paths and hauling the limbs to a new pile we will start in the VGC west pasture south of the Creek.
• I’ll have my 4-wheeler with the dump bed…so much of the work will be loading the dump bed, driving to the new pile & unloading the limbs.
• I will also have my chain saw, some hand saws and large pruners to help cut the limbs into smaller, more manageable pieces. I might also be chain sawing some smaller trees that need to be removed.
• If you have a rake….grass rake or a bow rake…please bring one with you.

Let’s meet at Bridge 1…the one furthest to the west and closest to Lions Park. It’s about 150 yards from SE Creekside.

We appreciate your help.

Side Note: At any time during the year, if you pick up branches or plant debris, please deposit them in a pile on either side of Creekside near the road on a non-grassy bed. This ensures they don’t need to be moved for mowing and Ike can easily pick them up.


Block Watch
by Daryl Schreiner

I contacted Sgt. Benfield of the College Place Police Department and he said they will do an orientation program for us, with instruction in how to organize Crime Watch by Phase. He also said the city hall has a meeting place, but has to be reserved in advance. He also indicated he has access to the Lions Hall. Our next move is to get a list of Villagers willing to attend. Please email me at darco4321 at gmail dot com if you are interested in attending. I will get back in touch once we have a date and time for this.


Homeless camp location and City Council discussions
by Dave Gullo and Michele Wollert

As many of you have heard, the WW City Council brought a motion to stop their plans to move the camp to the amphitheater site until the council can take more public testimony on April 26th.

The Union-Bulletin has reported “Going forward, I don’t envision us relocating to Fort Walla Walla Park. It’s just too much of a rub on the quality of life here. We need to keep as far away as possible from residents and businesses,” Shawa said. “Now we go back to the drawing board”.

That looks to be a change in direction. However, the final location for the homeless camp is still unknown. With this knowledge, it is prudent for the community to stay engaged. Please consider showing up for these meetings to know what is being discussed among the Council members and if you want to speak.

Mark your calendars

Tuesday, April 25th, 7PM: College Place City Council

The Mayor has said that they will be giving an information presentation to the Council, following their discussion there will be an opportunity for you and others to address the Council. This means it is on the agenda and residents will be able to speak to the Council.

There will be two residents of the VGC that are taking the lead on presenting to the CP Council members. Others can speak since it is an open forum at that point. If you speak, please be concise and respectful. Government is in a difficult place with this type of issue nationwide.

Wednesday, April 26th, 7PM: Walla Walla City Council

A motion was brought at the last meeting to put the move on hold until they could take more public testimony on April 26th.

ARC – Activity Summary, January 2017

Architectural Review Committee
Villages of Garrison Creek

Activity Summary
January 2017

Two new ARC members were added in December: Michele Wollert (Phase VII) and Kathy Jo Mooney (Phase VI) after Cassie Siegal and Lori Storey resigned. At the end of January, Kathy Jo reconsidered her ability to participate and we are now looking for another new volunteermember to join Doug Botimer and Michele Wollert on the ARC.

On 1/27/2017, Cassie and Michele met with Stephanie Robertson at Express Employment Professionals to interview a candidate for the part time Parking Observer position. Michael Siegenthaler was hired and will be trained by the person who formerly had this job, Robert Bascum. Michele will be the ARC contact person who will receive communications from Express Employment Pros, approve time sheets, and send that approval to Villages treasurer/bookkeeper, Jim Hall, so he can pay the monthly invoice. It is expected that Mr. Siegenthaler will begin his late night and early morning rounds 2-3 times per week to issue courtesy warnings for Land Use Standards violations (bin misplacement; driveway/street parking violations; and overflow parking lot rules) in early February. We have not had consistent monitoring of violations since October, so we anticipate having to administer notices more often at first to remind residents who have been using streets and driveways for overnight parking on a regular basis. Our commitment is to be friendly and respectful in all ARC communications, understanding that we are all neighbors first and foremost.

There has been a great deal of inconsistency in how informed new residents have been with regard to Land Use Standards and other HOA documents. In an attempt to keep buyers as informed as possible on the front end, Michele is in the process of contacting real estate agents who have current active listings in the Villages to share our website address with them and to point out the link to the critical HOA documents available for buyers’ review there. She is also exploring the idea of reviving the practice of providing new homeowners with a friendly welcome gift packet, which can include not only the HOA documents and regional points of interest pamphlets, but small local gifts (Klickers’ or Andy’s jams, jellies; Bright’s candies, etc). She’ll be discussing details with the Master Board at a future meeting, as well as Phase leaders, to incorporate their ideas and approval before moving ahead.

Michele will be monitoring the ARC email daily for requests and complaints and will write the monthly ARC activity summary, starting with this one.

Respectfully submitted,

Michele Wollert
Phase VII resident
ARC member

ARC January 2017 Summary (PDF version)