Thursday, July 25, 2024
Landscaping and Irrigation Improvements Project
The Resolution pertaining to the Landscaping and Irrigation Improvements Project outlined on this page was passed by a Membership vote on April 9, 2014
Letter from the Board of Directors
Dear Ravens Crest East Homeowners,

The Association underwent a major renovation project on our buildings and grounds since 2008 that included building related items such as replacing roofs, siding, stairs, doors, and windows. In addition we have completed several grounds projects including new drainage, paving of the parking lots and loop road, state of the art lighting, tot lot, and sidewalks. There are two projects remaining from the original Renovation Project proposed in September 2007, which includes Landscaping improvements and renovation of the clubhouse.

With the completion of the building and grounds projects thus far, the Board focused its attention on the Landscaping of the community. The Landscaping and Irrigation Project is designed to improve the aesthetics of the community and preserve the value of the individual units within the Association. In addition, the project will include an upgraded irrigation system that is a responsive system that will be more efficient and result in less water usage. This should reduce the cost of the water bill, which is one of the Association’s highest expenditures.

The Board put out a Request For Proposal (RFP) for Landscape Architectural Services. After reviewing the bids and interviewing three (3) landscape architects, the Board selected Barry Caul of Caul Design Group based on his presentation, experience and fee. The board then met with the landscape architect several times over the past year to better explain the Association's needs. In addition several site visits were conducted. The Landscape architect then developed a final plan and budgets based on discussions with the Board and Management. The project then was put out to bid to many landscaping companies with four (4) returning bids. The Board reviewed the bids and interviewed the landscaping companies. The Board ultimately selected Landscape Maintenance Services (LMS) as the winning bid based on pricing (being one of the lowest) and experience. LMS has been the Association’s landscaping, irrigation and snow removal contractor since 2005.

The original Renovation Project budget amount in 2007 for the landscaping improvements was $150,000. This budget amount was a very rough estimate at the time due to the strong interest to move forward with the buildings phase of the project. Since the landscaping required more analysis and all the other building and grounds projects had to be completed first, it was finally pursued in 2013. After reviewing the bids and selecting the contractor, the budget for the landscaping project is approximately $2.3 million. The cost of the project has significantly increased for several reasons:

1) The rough estimate was based on conditions in 2007. It is now 7 years later and a lot of the landscaping has died or reached the end of its useful life from original construction over 27 years ago.
2) We have not invested in any landscaping improvements in the past 10 years since we had to wait for the other projects to be completed so we did not lose any newly planted items.
3) Numerous trees were lost due to Hurricane Sandy (over 25 trees), drainage work, site lighting and natural loss.
4) The landscaping does contain some amount of aesthetic taste, which can be hard to gauge until a full 
review is completed.

After review of our finances and complying with the necessary funding for the Reserve Analysis and outstanding reserve to renovate the Clubhouse, the Board has recommended funding this project from our Reserve accounts. The project will need to be phased in over 5 years, starting with this year, 2014, in order to meet our financial obligations. This will eliminate the need for an additional special assessment, as it will be exclusively funded from reserves. Unit Owners shall not be charged a special assessment in connection with the Landscaping and Irrigation Project. In order to meet the ongoing reserve requirements, we will however need to increase the regular monthly maintenance fees by approximately $5 each year through 2018. The board will monitor each year what increase is needed to meet the reserve requirements. For 2014, we designated $6 on average of the monthly fee increase towards the reserves when developing the 2014 Operating Budget. There will be no increase for 2014 from what you are currently paying. For each of the next 5 years, starting in 2014, we will spend approximately $400,000 to $500,000 towards the landscaping improvements.

In accordance with Article 12 of the Association’s By-Laws, expenditures in excess of $50,000 from the reserve account of the Association will require an affirmative vote of a majority of the Unit Owners. We are therefore requesting unit owners to review the following documentation as well as invite you to attend the Annual Meeting to be held on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at The Cranbury Inn, 21 South Main Street, Cranbury, NJ 08512. The landscape architect will be present at the meeting to review the design with membership. The landscaping drawings are also available for review at the Management office or on our website,

It is important that homeowners vote on the Landscaping and Irrigation Project either in person at the meeting or via absentee ballot, which is included, so we may proceed with the project. If you send in your absentee ballot and wish to rescind it at the meeting, you may do so. If we fail to make quorum we will need to re-vote the resolution.

You may mail your absentee ballot no later than Tuesday, April 8, 2014 to:
Ravens Crest East, Attn: Tom Boland, 1700 Ravens Crest Drive E., Plainsboro, NJ 08536.

In closing, the landscaping and irrigation project will provide a significant aesthetic beauty to our community and increase our curb appeal preserving our homes’ values. Additionally, we will save money in the long term with the new irrigation system, which will save water. Homeowners will not need to pay any new special assessment for this project as it is being funded from reserves.

Thank you for your consideration,

Board of Directors
Ravens Crest East at Princeton Meadows Condominium Association, Inc.
2014 Annual Meeting Presentation
Presentation Slides for Landscaping and Irrigation Improvements Project

Presented by Steve Morris (Morris Engineering), Barry Caul (Caul Design) and Paul O'Brien (Golden Rule Realty)
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