Boaz Island crumbles as fees are unpaid
Crumbling infrastructure is a major drain on the resources of Boaz Island Village’s management board.
Chairman Simon Groves said homeowners owed more than $180,000 in maintenance fees and called on them to pay up so the area in the West End can be properly looked after and reach its full potential.
“What we are seeing today is the consequence of the lack of consistent, quality infrastructure support,” he explained.
“Let’s use the water as an example — my understanding is that it was built with a grade of material that wasn’t suitable for Bermuda conditions.
“And as a consequence, we have a severe leakage problem.
“Whereas we buy all of our water from Government via Wedco, we are buying twice as much as we are using.”
Mr Groves said minor leaks were hard to detect and the only solution was to dig up the entire system and replace it.
He added: “It’s the same for the guttering to catch water from the roof tops, the same with the lighting — we’ve really got to go back to basics.”
He said the board had submitted a business plan for funding the replacement of the water infrastructure to Government that would see them pay back an initial start-up.
And he added that a contractor was preparing estimates to fix the lighting, starting with the worst-affected areas. Mr Groves, who has lived on Boaz Island for about 17 years, said some of the problems were the result of how the village was built and others were down to a lack of proper maintenance.
He added: “What we’ve done now is we’ve reached a point where the infrastructure has collapsed to the point that we’re having to replace the infrastructure.
“Whereas before we could just paper over it, eventually it collapses and now we have to pay for the repairs as they occur to the collapsed infrastructure, so the demands on our meagre resources are exponentially rising.”
Mr Groves said the board, which is responsible for all communal issues including ground maintenance, electricity, water supply, exterior building maintenance and insurance, is owed more than $180,000 in arrears because some owners are not paying their fees.
“The problem is when one debtor fails to pay, that means that all of the other non-debtors are paying for their upkeep of their property, the purchase of their water, the supply of their communal electricity and the maintenance of their grounds and it’s not fair.
“So there is a considerable bitterness in regards to those who stay on top of their expenses and those who have fallen behind.
“I’d like owners to take responsibility for their liabilities. Owners have to big up. Once we can stop the haemorrhaging of money to fix crisis problems, when we stop putting out fires, we can start to reinvest on the aesthetics.”
Mr Groves explained that it is the responsibility of homeowners to contribute the monthly $425 condominium fee, “which then enables the board to do its business”.
He said: “In almost all cases, the owners occupy the buildings that they own, with the exception being Wedco, of course.
“In Wedco’s case, that maintenance fee comes out of the rent that they charge the individual. If it wasn’t for them, we would have sunk a long time ago.”
He said that there are “a handful of chronic debtors” who owe up to $20,000 each and that the board has had “limited success” in getting them to pay up.
Mr Groves added that the board was now working with a new debt collection agency and papers had been served telling defaulters who are in more than 90 days of arrears that they will be taken to court if they do not settle their debts.
Mr Groves warned: “We will have to seek payment orders on them or even asset forfeiture if it comes to that and we don’t want to.
“In my period of chairmanship we have tried everything to avoid that but if there is no other recourse, that’s what we have to do.”
Despite sending out monthly newsletters, Mr Groves said many homeowners were not aware of the financial concerns until they noticed problems and asked why they had not been fixed.
He said: “Well, it’s because we can’t afford to fix it — it’s as simple as that.”
Mr Groves said he would like to see more homeowners get involved with the board to increase awareness of the problems and help tackle them.
He added: “You’ve got 94 residences. They’re not all waterfront but they’re all water accessible. Where else in Bermuda have you got a location and a potential like we have here?
“This is all about potential, this is about turning this village into a residential destination of first choice.”
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Public Works confirmed yesterday that a joint proposal seeking funding to upgrade the water infrastructure was submitted by Wedco and Boaz Island Village Committee under the previous administration.
“The proposal was considered but the final decision was deferred due to budgetary constraints,” she added. “Recently Wedco has requested further consideration be given to the proposal.
“As it stands, the proposal has yet to be reviewed by the current minister for consideration.”
• UPDATE: This article was updated to include the response from the Ministry of Public Works.