by Kevin Dicciani

The board of the Chestnut Hill Community Association voted at its July 24 meeting to approve committee chairs and co-chairs, albeit not without some members voicing their disapproval of the final decision.

Before presenting his list of recommendations, CHCA president Will Detweiler announced some of the changes that were made to the committees.

The first change that Detweiler recommended was broadening the ambitions of the Calendar Committee by renaming it “Chestnut Hill Products.” The committee, which is to be chaired by new board member Dan Pulka, will focus on raising money for the organization by offering additional items beyond the calendar, such as caps and golf shirts.

Detweiler then recommended that the Membership, Welcome Wagon, and New Resident Program be consolidated into one committee, and that board member Andy Kite preside as chair. Also, Detweiler announced a new Special Events Committee, chaired by Jenny McHugh, that is to report directly to the president. The committee is responsible for creating events and activities that haven’t been done in the past, all the while raising awareness of Chestnut Hill.

After board member Richard Snowden made a motion to accept the president’s recommendations, Larry McEwen, the vice president of the physical division, said he wasn’t “entirely in favor” of the new structure of the committees in the physical division.

McEwen said that, due to the way the physical division committees work, like Land Use Planning and Zoning and Development Review, which are on a calendar basis unlike the rest of the committees, there is no freedom to reschedule meetings if a chairperson is unable to make it, and for that reason he made a recommendation to Detweiler to allow both of those committees to have a co-chair, just as the LUPZ has had for the past 22 years.

“All of these committees are maned by design professionals who may have other engagements and cannot get out of those, be it teaching or meetings, so for those reasons, among others, we’ve have always had the LUPZ with co-chairs – never had a problem with that in 22 years,” McEwen said. “And I like running the division the way it works, and that’s the way it works.”

The DRC did not originally have co-chairs, McEwen said. Eventually, through practice, he found that structure to be “unworkable.” He said if the chairperson could not make it, the meeting was then run by someone who wasn’t a chair, and that was unfair for the applicants and the public who entered the meeting expecting it to be conducted by someone with authority and expertise.

But Detweiler said he preferred having one chairperson for each committee, except in the case of the Bylaws Committee, because that is what the bylaws state is required, even though McEwen said the LUPZ has had co-chairs for 22 years without incident. Moreover, if issues were to arise, Detweiler said he had no problem with having a “vice-chair” function as the president in the absence of a chairperson.

“That’s the way most organizations work,” Detweiler said.

McEwen did not agree, finding the discussion of titles to be semantical.

“You know, I don’t know that’s the way that most organizations are run – I don’t care,” McEwen said. “I feel like we are getting into a chair, vice-chair thing, and I feel like it’s more hierarchy than we need. We need people working collaboratively, and with two co-chairs on these committees, things work well.”

Laura Lucas, the vice president of operations, also voiced criticism o the chair appointments. She said she was disappointed with the way Detweiler created his list of recommendations. Although Lucas said she could “live with these [the recommendations],” she said she was “appalled” at how Detweiler handled the whole situation, saying that, after initially asking for recommendations, he “ignored two vice presidents.”

Lucas said she was bothered that Detweiler, without listening to her feedback or consulting her, recommended new board member Jack McMeekin for chairperson of the Holiday House Tour Committee. Lucas said that committee members have been meeting twice a month since this past December to come up with “robust plans.” Although she thinks McMeekin will do a great job, Lucas said the news was nonetheless blindsiding.

“You’re telling the people who were doing the work, ‘Sorry,’” Lucas said. “This a surprise thing that you could have talked to me about, and we could’ve came to the same place, but you chose to just go at it alone, for your own pleasure.”

The motion to accept Detweiler’s recommendations passed with a 15-7 vote.

In other news

President William Detweiler announced that the bylaw amendments to implement 501(c)(3) status are currently being finalized and are set to be reviewed at August’s Executive Committee meeting. The bylaws were scheduled to be voted on at August’s CHCA Board of Directors meeting, but due to the typically low turn-out at August meetings the vote will be pushed back to September.