June 18, 2020
Monday night the Board reached the difficult, bitterly disappointing decision to keep our pools closed this summer. Our Manager, her staff, and several members of the Board have been working extraordinarily hard for months to find a safe way to open the pools while carefully following the strict safety protocols established by the Center for Disease Control and, more recently, by the State of New Jersey. For all of that hard work and determination,we reluctantly
made this decision for three reasons::
- The liability of the Association and its members would be unacceptably high.
- The necessary protocols would hugely diminish the “fun” of going to the pool.
- The costs of implementing required protocols would be substantial..
Please read on for further details:
1) COVID-19 related issues would not have been covered by our insurance. A lawsuit stemming from the virus would have been the Association’s responsibility. Even a frivolous lawsuit might have cost the Association a lot of money. We were warned that under certain circumstances, a judgement might legally require us to spend the Association's resources and could cause the need to impose a special assessment on members.
2) To meet the guidelines for opening, we would have had to hire a “social ambassador” to be at our pools whenever they were open. This position has been invented over the last few months. The job would have been to tactfully but effectively enforce the rigid protocols about wearing masks at poolside and maintaining social distancing, while monitoring those in the pool to make sure that they too were following the rules. We were advised that Trustees or residents must not take this role. Lifeguards can not fill this role. What would it cost to hire such a person? How would you evaluate their fitness for the job? How would this person safely manage any sort of non-compliance or altercation? What if that person didn’t work out?
3) It was suggested that we hire someone in law enforcement to work for us at the pools to add additional security. This is not a requirement but a suggestion in case there is a compliance problem at the pools. The “social ambassador” would have limited enforcement capabilities if a problem arose. The additional cost here would have been substantial. Law enforcement cannot enforce social distancing.
4) We would have had to prohibit normal pool behavior. Children would not have been allowed to play together in the pool and social interaction between neighbors at the pool would have been severely restricted. Proper enforcement of these protocols, as well as keeping track of who belonged to which household, would have been another responsibility for the “social ambassador”.
5) Though the regulations allow up to 50% capacity, our deck and pool areas are limited so they had to be measured to determine how many people could use them at a time while observing the required social distancing protocols. As a result, R Pool’s capacity would be between 6 and 10 people at a time, and they would have to stay in the carefully measured squares that were designated for them. B Pool’s capacity would be between 16 and 25 people at a time. After each session at the pool, everyone would have to leave in a staggered, monitored and socially distanced way. All surfaces would have to be cleaned. A half-hour later, the new attendees would be admitted, wearing masks, and observing social distancing protocols.
6) What if one of our members who was frustrated by the protocols decided to express that frustration at the pool? Would we ban that person from the pools? Would we close the pools? In fact, whenever the problem of flouting the rules was raised, the answer seemed to be, well, then we would close the pools. Why open the pools at all if the back-up plan is to close them?
And these are only some of the problems that opening the pools would create.
Hard work was never an issue here. Over the past few years our Board members, Manager and staff have faced numerous challenges and overcome them with a relentless determination. A number of our Board members are among the most frequent pool users in our community. We did everything we could think of to make it possible to open the pools. In the end, we had to think not as your friends and neighbors, which of course we are, but as Trustees, who have a responsibility- including a fiduciary responsibility - to protect the Association and its members. After months of struggling to find a better solution, we have decided that closing the pools this summer is the best way to meet that responsibility.
As you know, the pools are a significant part of our budget. We will review the expenses for the year and any funds not spent in our operating budget will be discussed with our membership at our annual budget meeting in November.
The Radburn Association Board of Trustees