Jõekääru bears down on a new constitution (5)
Archived Articles 23 Jul 2007 Erik TannerEWR
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A black bear made its yearly appearance at Jõekääru on Saturday, May 26. It was a pleasant morning, with the sun shining brightly in a clear blue sky, when the incident with the bear occurred. It happened on the same morning of the Estonian Summer Homes Association’s (ESHA) annual general meeting. Association president Jaan Schaer explained that a teenage girl, while out for a walk, had crossed paths with a bear in a Jõekääru field to the northeast of the Estonian children’s camp. He said, “They looked at each other and then ran in opposite directions.” The girl suffered a minor scratch. Jaan noted how the incident had symbolic parallels with events in Estonia. He joked that the bear wanted to join the Association’s meeting, “but it was a trespasser and the AGM rejected the bear just as Estonians rejected the Russian bear. It was symbolic. The black bear was not invited.”

Most everyone believes Vladimir Putin’s Russia is behind the recent so-called cyber-attacks on Estonia’s internet infrastructure. Russia denies any official involvement. A Globe and Mail editorial, however, said, “The cyber-bullying has the thumbprints of the Kremlin all over it.” Jõekääru’s bear mostly frayed nerves, in Estonia, however, the damage was substantial, estimated at several million dollars.

AGM chairman Erik Joa opened the meeting, introducing ESHA president Jaan Schaer. About 50 people were in attendance at the meeting. ESHA directors and trustees, Valdeko Novek, Rudi Karjamaa, Eevi Novek, Eerik Valter, Andres Terts, Linda Tae, Pearu Tamm, Erik Tanner and Maret Tamm, were present. Director Ilmar Kaljurand was unable to attend.

Treasurer Eevi Novek explained the ESHA’s finances for this year and last. The ESHA is not losing money. Long-time Jõekääru resident Lana Esken replaced Pearu Tamm as alternate director.

The largest and most important topic of this year’s AGM concerned revising the constitution and bylaws. Jaan Schaer explained, “It is our intention in 2007 to include all the property owners at Jõekääru.” The current constitution and bylaws are written in Estonian. The ESHA directorship spent the last year pouring over the documents to create an English translation. The translation, together with copies of the original Estonian documents, was handed out to all ESHA members in attendance at the AGM.

Minor changes had already been made to the translation and the original. For instance, the constitution said, “The board or Directors is based in Toronto,” was changed to “The board or Directors is based in Udora.” The association’s directors also propose to change the name from ESHA to Jõekääru Community Association. The ESHA hopes the more substantive changes that are needed will follow with a discussion with the wider community. Jaan Schaer says, “Our main emphasis is on preserving the natural common areas for generations to come.” The ESHA owns about 160 acres together with the Estonian Children’s Camp. Each organization has a 50-per-cent stake in the land. The future of this common area land is the subject of much often-heated debate.

The ESHA and the membership realize the need and the political correctness of including the wider non-Estonian community in its affairs and management of Jõekääru. It is, of course, problematic getting non-Estonian residents to participate and join an organization that does all its business in a language they don’t understand. Despite this, a good portion of the non-Estonian Jõekääru property owners happily pays the annual $100 ESHA fee. About one-third of Jõekääru property owners are now non-Estonians.

Lana Esken is upset that not all property owners pay their dues. She says, Estonian issues aside, a $100 annual fee is very reasonable for what members get in return. She believes, however, the new constitution and bylaws, written in a language everyone can understand, will help boost revenues.

Jõekääru resident Kalle Naelapea believes a clause should added to the constitution requiring Association meetings be held in English.

Regarding the land owned together with the Estonian children’s camp Kalle Naelapea says in an e-mail to the directors, “It seems to me that if the lands are not being used for some Estonian higher purpose, the concept of the common areas becomes thorny.” He says, “There needs to be a clear plan to deal with the issues of land ownership and use in the event of the dissolution of any of the organizations that the ESHA has contractual understandings with. This, of course is a big and important issue.” He says, “The concept of the common areas as being a nature park should be ensconced in the põhikiri. I sure don’t want a subdivision/golf course, etc, sprouting up there!” He goes onto say, “I agree with those who say that property owners should not profit from any sales of land, I, however, do feel that members of the Association do have a say in how the Association, which owned the land, uses it.” He says, “I maintain that the best way to do this is to describe the lands as a nature park, with no other uses permitted. In the constitution, not the bylaws. Also, to say that the lands are held available for use by the Estonian Community (with reasonable access granted by juhatus) as long as the Association exists.”

At the end of the summer the constitution and põhikiri will be sent to a lawyer for comments. In the meantime, anyone interested in receiving a copy of the documents, as they stand now, can e-mail and ask for a copy. All comments are welcome, as are additional clauses anyone thinks are needed.

Boycott all things Russian, like vodka. Better to buy Saku beer! Remember, we don’t like bears, they are not welcome at Jõekääru or in Estonia.
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