Memo: Updates on Property and the Long Range Property Process
From: Kirsten Billhardt, Board Chair, Girl Scouts of Central Texas
Date: April 17, 2013
At our annual meeting in late January, I shared some of the key goals we have at the Board level. First, we need to find and onboard a new CEO who will guide us to become a stronger and more united organization, better able to fulfill our mission to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. Second, we are focusing on our property portfolio. We own or lease quite a bit of camp property, Scout Houses, and Program Centers in our 46 counties and it does require a good share of our financial resources to just keep up with simple maintenance and upkeep.
In regard to our second goal of assessing GSCTX properties, we have made a few decisions that we would like to share with the community.
- Moving the Brownwood Program Center – Our facilities staff has found a new space in Brownwood for our four staff members and computer lab. This location will be shared with other community organizations, including the Red Cross and Boy Scouts, which opens up opportunities to collaborate in the community. We are able to end the lease of our existing building, which had an unusable third floor and was not a desirable facility.
- Place Camp Wood Lake on rest – Camp Wood Lake served less than 200 girls last year (as compared to over 4000 at Texlake and 1500 at Kachina) and cost the Council over $50k in maintenance. We have placed this property on “rest” – which means we have closed the property for reservations. This allows us to make immediate and necessary cuts in spending, while we as a community study the value this property adds for the girls. There will be opportunities for the local community to give input around this process before any final decisions are made.
- Temple Area Service Center - We have asked the Facilities Director to research a more cost effective way to continue our Girl Scout presence in the Temple area, and bring recommendations back to the Board.
- Renaming of Program Centers – To reduce confusion, the names of the Program Centers need to be consistent with names that are commonly used by most volunteers and staff. This is also a unification activity to move past previous council names.
· Bluebonnet becomes Waco Area Service Center
· El Camino becomes San Angelo Area Service Center
· Heart of Texas becomes Brownwood Area Service Center
· Lone Star becomes Kodosky Service Center, Austin area.
As many of you are aware, we kicked off a Long Range Property Planning process to engage our volunteers in helping shape the role that property has in our Council, and to make further recommendations to the Board as to future changes in the property portfolio. A cross-council volunteer task force was put together, and a series of Program Visioning workshops were held across our community.
A number of significant concerns came up over the past few months. Most importantly – volunteers did not feel they had adequate and timely knowledge of the Program Visioning workshops, so they missed their opportunity to have their voices heard. There was also demand for more information about our properties, which is under development by facilities staff and will be posted on our website within the next few weeks. Also, many of the task force members were not able to attend key meetings, leaving decisions in the hands of just a few. And finally – there were concerns that not every task force member was able to be objective in their participation.
Due to all these concerns, we have decided that given the importance of this initiative, we need to start over with the Long Range Property Planning process. We disbanded the existing task force, with the exception of the Chair, and will be forming a new task force. Here is the process moving forward:
- Recruit new task force members made up of Council volunteers and Board Members and community members with strong property backgrounds who do not have a volunteer history with Council. Applications are available here and will be accepted until May 20.
- Schedule a new series of Program Visioning workshops with a minimum of 60 days notice. We expect these workshops to kick off in August.
- Gather the recommended data for all Council properties and programs for use by task force members.
- Publish a draft of the task force’s recommendations for review by all volunteers prior to presentation to the Board for its final decision. We will be asking for your comments and concerns.
We are looking forward to working through key property decisions with a team that is cognizant of the history of the Council, but able to think of the needs of our girls moving forward. While I am quite sure that we will have to make some tough decisions that some will be unhappy with, I know that the end result will be the ability to invest more dollars in assets and programs that will directly benefit our girls.
Yours in Girl Scouting –