Arfa: Board service rewarding

Posted on Tue, 09/01/2015 - 12:30pm

By Lori Ziesmer

Art Arfa Continuing on with the Dialogue tradition of profiling current members of the Malibu East Board of Directors, I was looking forward to spending time and becoming better acquainted with Art Arfa. Intelligent, thoughtful and passionate about maintaining property values at Malibu East are all words I would use to describe Art after our time together. We sat down to chat one evening in mid-June.

My first question for Art was, “How long have you lived at Malibu East?” Without hesitation he replied, “Eight years. I moved in when I married my wife, Marcia.”

Marcia grew up with Art’s cousin in Benton Harbor, Mich. She had been a resident of Malibu East for 17 years and owned a one-bedroom unit before she married Art.

Art had previously owned a home in Wilmette. After the passing of Art’s first wife, the cousin thought Marcia and Art should get acquainted. They dated and eventually married. When it came time to purchase a home that they would live in together, they looked around at different options and eventually settled on a three-bedroom unit on a high floor at Malibu East. Marcia sold her one-bedroom unit and Art his house.

Art remembers when Malibu East was being constructed and became the tallest high-rise on North Sheridan Road at that time. As a child he grew up at Glenwood and Devon, attending Hayt School kindergarten through eighth grade and then Senn High School. Art’s father, who emigrated from Poland, and his grandfather were bakers by profession. Art spent time as a child helping out in the family business. Art went to college at the University of Illinois’ Chicago Circle campus and attended law school at night at Loyola University while working days at the Railroad Retirement Board, located one block west of Water Tower Place on Rush Street.

Art worked at the Railroad Retirement Board for 37 years and made the decision to retire six years ago. At the Railroad Retirement Board, Art initially was a claims examiner. However, after finishing law school, he moved to the legal department, where he worked with eight to 10 other attorneys. His job was to write legislation and regulations to be adopted by the U.S. Congress. He was involved with employee union matters and labor relations. Art supervised people, conducted hearings involving disability claims and represented the agency before various administrative agencies and various courts of appeal.

Art has always been an avid lover of history and enjoys traveling to new places. He spoke about an upcoming trip to Italy he and Marcia are planning. They plan to visit Florence and Tuscany and take cooking classes together.

Art has been a member of the Malibu East Board of Directors since 2012, and is currently in the middle of his second term. He currently sits on the Architecture, Aesthetics, Building Maintenance & Services Committee; the Rules & Regulations Committee; the Legal Committee; the Admissions Committee; the Long-Range Planning Committee; and the Garage Committee. Art also is the current secretary of the Board and takes all the notes that become the official record of what occurred at each meeting.

As a member of the Architecture, Aesthetics, Building Maintenance & Services Committee, Art has assisted with the Laundry Room and garage renovations, the purchase of the tulip umbrellas for the pool deck, the likely replacement of the windscreens around the pool, and the recently begun elevator modernization project. His work on the Rules & Regulations Committee involves revising or updating rules as needed. Responsibilities of the Legal Committee include assisting with all closings and reviewing all documentation of Association-purchased units.

I asked Art for his advice to anyone who was considering running for the Board in the upcoming September election. His response was that new directors must first accept that nothing will happen as fast as they think it should. Most decisions are reached by a consensus of the directors. All issues are researched, thought about and discussed by all directors. It takes time to make an important decision and then implement the agreed-upon solution. Any new director will be joining the Board at a time when the 2016 budget and the list of projects to be worked on next year have been almost finalized. The second year of the two-year term will provide more opportunity for new directors to implement change.

Art’s second piece of advice is that a successful Board member needs to have the best interests of all of the building’s residents in mind when making decisions. A director is voting on issues that affect more than 1,000 people. Art does not take that responsibility lightly.

Finally, the new Board member should be prepared to spend, on average, three to five hours a week on Board-related issues. In Art’s case this includes attending meetings, writing the minutes, reviewing documents, thinking about how a project should proceed and how he can contribute to the outcome, and making decisions for his upcoming votes.

Art says the rewards for him outweigh the time commitment of being a member of our Board. He enjoys living here and being a part of the Malibu East community and feels it is an obligation to use his talents to help the building continue to succeed.