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Subject: Common Area Amenities during Corona Virus Crisis
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Author Messages
CarolynM3
(Georgia)

Posts:45


03/16/2020 4:21 PM  
Our Board wants to temporarily close the fitness center and the clubhouse for a time period during the coronavirus crises. Our state, Georgia, is under a state emergency. We disseminated a letter, and one homeowner pushed back that we should leave the facilities open. The fitness center is very small, and there is no way that 6 feet of social distancing could be maintained between members. Plus, we have no one to consistently clean after these members using the gym.

Should we just leave it to the members' discretion in terms of use? Or should we take a proactive position and enact a decision that might help the community during this crisis? Your feedback would be appreciated.

Regards,

Carolyn
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:233


03/16/2020 4:25 PM  
Posted By CarolynM3 on 03/16/2020 4:21 PM
Our Board wants to temporarily close the fitness center and the clubhouse for a time period during the coronavirus crises. Our state, Georgia, is under a state emergency. We disseminated a letter, and one homeowner pushed back that we should leave the facilities open. The fitness center is very small, and there is no way that 6 feet of social distancing could be maintained between members. Plus, we have no one to consistently clean after these members using the gym.

Should we just leave it to the members' discretion in terms of use? Or should we take a proactive position and enact a decision that might help the community during this crisis? Your feedback would be appreciated.

Regards,

Carolyn




Absolutely not. Make your decision and stand by it.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


03/16/2020 4:29 PM  
Gyms are closed in NY.

I could see allowing only 1 person at a time to use the fitness center, if that can be enforced.

Otherwise, it's safer (for HOA liability) to keep the gym closed.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9127


03/16/2020 4:48 PM  
They closed the gym at our work too. So don't know why you can't in your HOA. It is called social distancing and quarantine for a reason. Sorry you can't work out at a public gym at this time. Of course the person's life you saved by not spreading the virus just thanked you...

Former HOA President
AugustinD


Posts:2906


03/16/2020 4:52 PM  
Of course HOAs/condos nationwide should shut down their pools, gyms and clubhouses. At this point I believe the world will be in a full-blown recession. Consumption of the usual goods and services will decline remarkably. Corporate earnings will concomitantly decline, forcing stock prices down. A week or so ago I think the United States should have been in full lockdown, with highways closed and the military/National Guard deployed, and folks restricted to homes except for groceries and medical. I believe the U. S. government will spend a great deal of money helping people.

The Fed was stupid not to raise interest rates long ago and bring the market down to sanity. Now there is no buffer. Stupid greedy political "leaders."

I believe life is going to be different for some months at least. I think the only hopes are that the virus is vulnerable to higher temperatures and a vaccine is developed.
PaulJ6
(New York)

Posts:728


03/16/2020 5:10 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 03/16/2020 4:52 PM
Stupid greedy political "leaders."




Agreed, yet again. This shows the results of electing at least some morons to lead 327 million people.
AugustinD


Posts:2906


03/16/2020 5:15 PM  
I am hoping this disease-based recession will be a lesson for a couple of generations.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2299


03/16/2020 5:19 PM  
Off topic, fellows.

To the OP ... make the decision, lock the doors, explain why you are doing it.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7037


03/16/2020 6:36 PM  
With George, stick with your board's decision, Carolyn.

So far our very spacious gym that rarely has more than 3 residents in at a time is still open. Our pool vendor assured our PM that our large pool, used maybe by 3 resident a day the time of year, is safely chlorinated to stay open. Social distance very easy to maintain in both.

We canceled our St. Patrick's Day Happy Hour and our 3/31 open board meeting. Our (high rise) custodians are doing extra sanitizing of door handles, elevator buttons, lobby restrooms, etc. Our PM & asst. have basically closed their onsite offices to residents. Parcels are delivered to a reception desk in each lobby and not touched by security who usually puts them in our Parcel Rooms (still working on this one)
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3664


03/17/2020 2:09 PM  
We're leaving our pool open. It's not something a lot of other HOAs aren't doing. Most pools are open in our area from what I can see. Things can always change.

We're also not health care professionals and will rely on guidance from qualified health officials and the CDC. And perhaps our insurance agent who we'll be meeting with in the coming weeks.

The president cancelled the March 24 Board Meeting. Nothing further (yet) from the board. (If this board is typical of the boards over the last 10 years here, there will be nothing else until the notice of the next Board meeting goes up).
JamesV3
(New Hampshire)

Posts:13


03/17/2020 2:35 PM  
Our Board decided to close our club house today for at least 2 weeks.
Also our monthly meeting next week will be done by teleconference.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2299


03/17/2020 5:32 PM  
Geno,

As the president of my HOA, I would feel very anxious about your decision ...
CarolynM3
(Georgia)

Posts:45


03/17/2020 6:00 PM  
Thanks everyone. We took your advice, made the decision, and we received push back from only 1 person. And, his push back was very illogical in terms of the rationale. We vetted it with our Attorney, and he provided the following feedback:


1. You are within your right to close down access to these common area amenities (pool area, clubhouse, and fitness center)
2. You are acting in a reasonable manner and in the best interest of the entire community.
3. It is not enough to just email the community that you are closing down those amenities, but you need to physically make them inaccessible until such time you deem it OK to reopen them.

The other thing that supported us is that several fitness centers in the Atlanta area have already closed down. Plus, we do not have the space to support social distancing, nor can we ensure that the entire room will be wiped down, deeply sanitized like commercial gyms.

We also are going to have web-based /conference call Board meetings.

We are a very active Board, so we perform a lot of duties outside of the meeting and are constantly in touch with each other.

Again, my thanks for your feedback.

Regards,

Carolyn
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7037


03/17/2020 6:55 PM  
Good news it's working out for your HOA, Carolyn. Your board did the right thing.

I'm sure our gym & pool will be closed down before long. I'd say 40% of folks in our community are 65+ and many, like me, have underlying health issues, so I really value our gym, while a handful of others are devoted to swimming laps. We'll just have to go for more long walks.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:3048


03/18/2020 7:50 AM  
It's a shame that some people WILL NOT stop and think of others in times of crisis. If you only have one person complaining about this, I wouldn't worry about him at all - you did your due diligence and made a sound decision.

In my area, the mayor just ordered fitness clubs and gyms to close yesterday, and I'm sure this guy can exercise at home - if he doesn't know what to do, send him to YouTube where he'll find a lot of exercise videos for free.


MarshallT
(New York)

Posts:28


03/18/2020 9:59 AM  
Hi Carolyn,

You've made the right decision. Everyone is having to make difficult decisions right now, but you will be putting homeowners at greater risk if you leave shared facilities open.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3664


03/18/2020 12:53 PM  
Posted By GeorgeS21 on 03/17/2020 5:32 PM
Geno,

As the president of my HOA, I would feel very anxious about your decision ...

Well, the Board's decision, i.e. not mine). The most pressing matter here seems to be, based on new info obtained this morning, regarding pool trespassers. One night a couple of weeks ago 4 or 5 people were using out pool at 2 AM. When confronted, they were polite enough and they left, but they did say they were homeless. Someone called the police the next day and were predictably told, "if they come back give us a call".

So the number one item of business making the rounds among board members, residents, and committee members is, "Should we padlock the pool area gate at night?" That's the only "solution" being considered because an electronic card/key/FOB access control system would cost money. The problem then becomes finding someone who will volunteer to unlock the gate in the morning and lock it back up again at night (because this board certainly isn't going to pay anyone to do that).

Nothing COVID-19 related in the least. We are in a county that has been very fortunate when it comes to the number of reported/confirmed cases or positive test results. I don't expect that to last for 18 months, though.
KellyR6
(California)

Posts:9


03/21/2020 6:42 AM  
We are under IRS Classification a Social Club, 501(c)(7). Prior to Covid-19 I had expressed concern with our lack of key cards in the community. We have a pool which can be used by non-residents. It may as well be a public pool. The Board of Directors and GM have ignored requests for change. Last month I wrote an Op Ed and submitted it to our local paper and it was published.

We have closed our, "café," for seating yet still deliver food, which I am adamantly against. Our pool will not open until the end of May. We are at high elevation with an outdoor pool. It's use is seasonal.

I'm a Neighborhood Watch Captain in my community. We take the position of Safety First and this is certainly a time to address safety.

Thank you to everyone who has suggested a prudent approach and closing areas within the community.

KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1485


03/21/2020 9:01 AM  
Temporarily shut down and protect your community. You will never hear widespread community outrage at following C.D.C. guidelines.

By the way, our clubhouse is closed to party and event bookings EXCEPT we will defer to the sub-HOA boards in our master community (5 mini-neighborhoods) as to whether they want to hold their own regular business meetings.

JamesV3
(New Hampshire)

Posts:13


03/25/2020 7:26 AM  
We extended our clubhouse closing until further notice.
Our board made this decision last night. We will reevaluate next month and then determine if we will reopen the clubhouse then and the pool opening for Memorial day weekend.
NpB
(Arizona)

Posts:188


03/25/2020 9:10 AM  
If a homeowner complains about an outdoor pool being closed due to COVID-19 by claiming that the virus does not spread through the use of the pool, what is a polite way to communicate to that homeowner that the reason is for liability reasons, so you can't sue the HOA if you contract the virus by visiting a communal area where others could have been laying or sitting on pool lounge chairs, etc..?
AugustinD


Posts:2906


03/25/2020 9:37 AM  
If a condo resident was using the pool and becomes infected with COVID-19, and then lawyers up to get the condo insurance to pay for the infection et cetera, my first response as a board member would be: "Please list every place you have been, and the times and date you were there, and why you believe the infection came from the pool and not one of these places."
NpB
(Arizona)

Posts:188


03/25/2020 9:47 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 03/25/2020 9:37 AM
If a condo resident was using the pool and becomes infected with COVID-19, and then lawyers up to get the condo insurance to pay for the infection et cetera, my first response as a board member would be: "Please list every place you have been, and the times and date you were there, and why you believe the infection came from the pool and not one of these places."





Do you think it is prudent for HOA's to temporarily close outdoor pool areas? A simple internet search indicates that many have and law firms are advising HOAs to do so.
AugustinD


Posts:2906


03/25/2020 9:53 AM  
As I posted above, yes, close the pool and clubhouse et cetera and put out notices indicating the HOA is doing what the federal government (read: Dr. Fauci) and state governments are advising or ordering.

Fines are being imposed in some countries for not following these orders. If you are in Phoenix, Arizona, I understand the National Guard has been deployed to help with food distribution. (I believe that's a euphemism for "helping with crowd control via guns as needed.") Fortunately I believe one can still play golf in Phoenix (eye roll). Well, maybe for a couple more hours.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3664


03/25/2020 2:18 PM  
Posted By NpB on 03/25/2020 9:47 AM
Do you think it is prudent for HOA's to temporarily close outdoor pool areas? A simple internet search indicates that many have and law firms are advising HOAs to do so.

I've been on the lookout for law firms in Florida that are advising HOAs to close their swimming pools and so far haven't really seen any.

The pool itself isn't the problem since properly chlorinated pool water deactivates the virus. The problem is everything else on the pool deck. Tables and chairs close together and not cleaned or wiped down on any sort of schedule (be it daily, weekly, hourly, whatever).

Ours is still open and there are maybe 10-20 people using it daily; but not at the same time. They trickle in in pairs or 3 at a time, spend a couple of hours, and leave. It's never crowded, not by a long shot. Of course, the pool furniture is never cleaned or sanitized either. There is no guidance from the CDC or the Florida Deptartment of Health that suggests swimming pools should be closed.

I think it should be closed but I haven't been able to find anything to show the board, "Look, this guidance strongly suggests we should close the pool." It doesn't exist.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7037


03/25/2020 4:22 PM  
Here, Geno is part of an article in the davis-stirling.com newsletter of 3/24/20:

"...someone is infected, how many surfaces will they touch on a normal visit to and from the pool? Anything they touch will be contaminated. Others who are not infected will then touch those same surfaces and become infected. . . .'You’re reaching for a door handle and using the card scanner or otherwise signing in. You’re getting changed and putting your clothes in a locker or on a bench. You’re touching a communal shower tap. If you use the restroom, that’s a whole other series of doors and surfaces to navigate. There’s plenty of places for a tiny, invisible virus to cling to and follow you home where it might infect you or a loved one.'"

The article's author is Adrian Adams, a CA HOA attorney. Our board received the same advice and reasoning in an email from our GC.

The article doesn't even mention the poolside furniture. If your board won't close the pool, perhaps they'd be willing to remove the furniture if you have a place to store it.
GenoS
(Florida)

Posts:3664


03/25/2020 7:48 PM  
Thanks, Kerry. The restroom issue is definitely something else to consider.
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3599


03/28/2020 6:00 AM  
Liability: Once someone does test positive who used the common areas, keeping them open and knowingly infect others would be a huge legal liability. Especially if people die. The virus may stay active on surfaces for 17 days. What would be the price tag for a cleanup of a known infected area?

Just shut em down.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9299


03/28/2020 9:45 AM  
Our HOA does all landscaping and outside home shell maintenance. Of 112 owners, we have one owner (a constant complainer) who is on the BOD's back about "people" on her property (the landscapers) could be infected and we are endangering the life of all our owners and we should stop all landscaping until the crisis is over. At this time we have decided to ignore her.
GeorgeS21
(Florida)

Posts:2299


03/28/2020 6:02 PM  
John,

I agree with your decision.

It is not apparent to me HOW normal landscaping service would increase a resident’s risk.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7037


03/28/2020 6:54 PM  
Agree with JohnC & George. As a Board, we are responsible for our community's common areas. Our landscapers and pool guy still come to make sure these items don't deteriorate (even though the pool is closed). They are essential services.
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