Fall 2013 Update

Hi all Havershamophiles,

I have written some irregular notes about Haversham news in the past, and this fall there is more news than usual to write about.  I should have gotten to this together sooner, but life has intervened, and most recently a prolonged local sporting event left a lot of us in greater Boston sleep deprived and at less than full productivity.  Now that the duck boats have paraded and some beards have been shorn, we can move on.

This year we did our annual fall work weekend a week before Columbus Day to better suit some schedules.  The weather cooperated (it was a whole lot warmer than on Memorial Day weekend!) and as usual a large cast (I think it maxed out at 17) did a lot of good work, including the normal boats, floats, mowing, and general cleanup/close up. Highlights included pulling Bernie and Dylan’s nice new mooring, (which will NOT drag!) so we can set it further west next year, and Pete and Nat pulling the invasive grape vines down out of the trees to the left of our front porch vista.  It has made a big difference already.  To carry this process further, we have hired a local landscaper to take down the dead tree over one of our parking ‘holes’, and to clear greenbrier and sumac (but not bayberry) starting near the house and going about 2/3 of the way down towards the ‘lollipop’ tree, from the path east to the tree line.  Family landscapers need not despair, there will always be more to do in keeping the flora at bay.

Thanks to the efforts of Beth and a Wakefield lawyer who seemed to benefit from some encouragement, our LLC has been fully reinstated and is once again in good standing with both the Rhode Island Secretary of State, and the various revenooers.  We avoided any penalties, and have just had to pay a decade or so of back fees that we didn’t know we had to pay.  We don’t owe any taxes because the LLC doesn’t realize any net income.  We now know that we have to budget $550 per year to cover these annual fees.

Thanks to a day in August that was too rainy for beaching or boating, but perfect for a morning at Westerly Town Hall, we finally waxed proactive about our property tax burden.  Other properties in the neighborhood (Puddicomb next door, and Verdier, to the west of the mailboxes) that are buildable lots on the water and comparable to ours have recently sold for +/- $2million, while ours is assessed at over $3million.  Go figure.   A Town Hall staffer who helped us compare tax records said “you should appeal!”  We did, with the help of Steve McAndrew, a local real estate appraiser, and the first round of that appeal process has had some success with a reduction in assessed land value (and RE tax) of about 15%.  We have chosen to carry this appeal process on to a second level, that goes to a citizen appeals board, rather than just the same assessor who appraised the property in the first place.  We should have the results of that second level appeal in January.  Stay tuned.

On a sad note, after much soul searching, (and discussions with Pennsylvania estate tax advisors) Nancy Post has decided that she will ‘disassociate’ her shares in our LLC.  We will sorely miss Nancy’s direct involvement as a Haversham shareholder, but we understand her decision, and we hope that she and her family will continue to enjoy the porch, and the family connections for as long as they wish.  The LLC has agreed to compensate Nancy for her shares, for a generously discounted sum.  Joe will be sending out a letter detailing that compensation, and an appropriate approach to  LLC members meeting their share of Haversham obligations, and choosing (or not) to acquire part of Nancy’s share. Our eternal thanks to Nancy and her siblings, who have been the bridge between Gan and Grandfather and all of us lucky enough to enjoy Haversham since, and we hope to see lots more of her and her family there.

Nancy’s decision is bittersweet, however, in that far from hinting at the beginning of the end for Haversham, it has galvanized a lot of us to step up and pledge substantial and long term financial support.  Beth helped push this process along by sending out a very thoughtful letter that asked the rhetorical question, ‘are there enough people interested in Haversham to continue to afford it?’ and if not, what should be our next step?  The response to that first question has been an overwhelmingly positive ‘Yes!’, at least for the foreseeable future, which is the best Haversham news in a long time.  No doubt the most encouraging part of the numerous offers of support is that one of the first came from some of the youngest members of Haversham’s ‘4th generation’, Dan and Kate.  Their immediate commitment and generosity may have been a bit of a ‘dope slap’ to some of the rest of us that while keeping Haversham going is, and will continue to be, a challenge, it is also an irreplaceable and gorgeous place for self-renewal, and it provides some of the essential glue that keeps the family together.

You will be interested to know that as of last weekend, our oyster seeding float was gone, so presumably Haversham nurtured oysters are now continuing their life cycle in some other appropriate spot in the state.  Hopefully a token few were tossed into the shallows near the dock, and we’ll see another batch next summer.

Finally, a reminder to all to visit Nat’s Haversham.org website, with ‘family’ as the user name for the private part of the site, and ‘haversham’ as the password.  There is lots of interesting and useful stuff already there, such as some oyster info, the updated e-mail list used for this note, and Amy’s great summary of our LLC agreement.  There will be lots more posted there over time, and what goes there will be a lot easier to recover and/or return to than it is now digging in our e-mail archives!

Happy Thanksgiving, Jim Taylor