4 reasons why the Pool is closed for this season
Many homeowners have asked legitimate and valid questions about the pool and whether it will be open this season. What follows is a summary of many factors that the Board considered in coming to its decision to close the pool for the season.
#1. Pool renovation is not complete.
In short the pool is not ready for use. During the off season several major renovations were planned. A splash pad would be installed, tile and coping replaced on the baby and large pool, existing decking and concrete replaced with cool deck concrete, existing wood shade structures replaced with new metal and canvas structures, installation of code compliant perimeter wrought iron fencing, among other things. As with any project there is a timeline and an order of construction. Electrical wiring and piping must be completed and inspected before concrete can be poured. All scheduled construction came to a stop during the Covid-19 outbreak. Required Inspections and work could not proceed and like dominoes each day’s delay further delayed a project that had been calendared to be completed before the pool season opening in May. So the bottom line is that the pool is not ready for use even if it could be opened today.
#2. Insurance Coverage may not exist on Covid-19 claims.
Our insurance agent has informed the HOA that the normal insurance coverage for slips and falls and pool related incidents may not include Covid-19 insurance coverage. This is the nightmare scenario. Presently the HOA allows an owner to permit renters to use the pool. A renter could bring a guest into the pool area. The guest could contract Covid-19, claim the illness happened at the HOA pool and sue the HOA. Even if the lawsuit is meritless and untrue, the lawsuit would have to be defended and that costs money. The annual HOA budget is in the neighborhood of $400,000.00 a year. Lawsuits can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend and you will not get that money back. Many of you have good hearts and would not think that opportunistic people exist out there who “game the system” and bring “false claims” to get money but the opportunists do exist. We have not been able to find any reputable insurance carrier offering such coverage. Even President Trump has resorted to obtaining waivers at his campaign gatherings to minimize his legal exposure.
Waivers are not always effective. The problem with waivers is determining who has the authority to waive a claim. Young children do not have the legal ability (capacity) to sign a waiver. A waiver signed by a child is not good. In a divorce or custody decree involving minor (young) children, oftentimes rights are split such that one parent determines the school location, the residence and medical (Health Care) rights of the child. How will the HOA know if the parent who brings the child to the pool has the authority to sign an enforceable waiver? If “Dad” has custody over the summer and brings the kids to the pool and he signs a waiver, when “Mom” has those rights, the waiver Dad signed is meaningless. The HOA is not in the business of finding out who is divorced with kids, married with kids, unmarried with kids. It is none of our business yet it is the only way to know if a person can sign a waiver for someone else.
#3. Admittance and pool usage limits placed on HOA by Governor and City of Sugar Land
The HOA must follow State and City rules and regulations (R&R). Oftentimes these R&R’s change without notice. Initial notices closed the pool entirely. Subsequent notices allowed for limited opening at 25% capacity following protocols with no opening of the splash pad and no drinking fountain. At that time the decision was made to close the pool for the Summer, we did not know if and when the Governor would raise limits on capacity, allow splash pad use, and open drinking fountains. At this time none of us can know what will happen. Covid-19 Case numbers go up and down. Capacity rates and protocols to deal with Covid-19 are all over the place.
The problems with capacity limits are many. Last year’s pool company displayed a sign that the pool capacity was 103 persons. With a capacity of 103 persons a 25% pool capacity limit is 25 persons. (No more persons may enter.)
What if 23 persons are in the pool and a Mom & Dad & their 3 kids arrive at the Pool? What does one do?
A. Allowing the 5 to enter brings the number up to 28 persons which is against the R&R. Do you make 3 persons already at the pool leave? Which 3? What if the earliest arrival was another family of 6, do you ask 3 of the earliest arrivals to leave, and let the 3 others stay? Do you bypass that group and look for a 3 person group and make them leave?
Is it fair to make the early arrivals leave? No it is not fair.
B. If you cannot get anyone to leave voluntarily, what do you do? Do you let Mom in with one child while Dad waits outside the gate with 2 of the other children pressed up against the gate?
Is it fair to make the later arrivals wait? No it is not fair.
There are some possible examples, and there are many more scenarios that can happen. There is no good answer here. The persons forced to leave will be upset and the later arrivals denied entrance will be upset. The HOA is not equipped to act as a referee to resolve such differences of opinion.
#4. Safety Protocols
How does one reasonably enforce Safety protocols?
If the pool is open, in addition to capacity limits, safety protocols must be established and followed.
Surfaces must be cleaned. Social Distancing encouraged, and PPE issues considered.
The gate has a safety latch. The latch is designed to keep young children from leaving and entering the pool area. The latch must be raised and lowered each time the gate is opened. If you have 50 persons show up that means raising and lowering the latch a hundred times by a potentially asymptomatic Covid 19 carrier (Someone who has no symptoms and may not even know they are infected). That latch will need to be cleaned each time it is raised. Every chair, handrail, water fountain, shower handle, etc. will need to be disinfected periodically. Ink pens used to sign in will have to be cleansed. Bathroom sinks and facilities must be closed for disinfecting. There is no shortage of surfaces that will have to be disinfected. Records will have to be kept showing that sanitary practices were implemented and carried through.
B. Social Distancing
How does one maintain 6 foot social distancing in a pool? The pool is only so big. How do you know if a group is a family group allowed to be within 6 feet of each other or a collection of strangers who should be separated by 6 feet? As a lifeguard there is simply no way to know this by looking. Furthermore the pool enclosure is designed to funnel persons in and out of narrow locations. The perimeter fence is there to keep young children out so they do not go into the pool unattended. A single gate entrance exists so it can be monitored to control access. This creates a chokepoint where persons must necessarily pass by each other.
What PPE, if any, is required in the pool area?
This is an area where there is divergent opinion. While no one is expected to wear a mask in the pool, what about those persons in the pool enclosure not swimming? If a family comes with snacks and beverages (remember water fountains have been closed for several months) they must remove masks to eat and drink. There are persons who wear masks and there are persons who choose not to wear masks. Both have their vocal adherents and advocates. The HOA is not equipped to act as a referee to resolve such differences of opinion. A separate issue is whether to not to make pool monitors wear a mask as part of the pool monitor’s duties and to help ensure the safety of the pool monitor. Protocols require that the monitor be checked before performing their tasks. Who checks the monitor? With the extra work a 2nd monitor is needed.
As a practical matter as long as Issue number 1 exists, (pool renovations are not complete), Issues 2, 3, and 4 are only academic talking points. Perhaps laws will be passed preventing fraudulent claims and limiting liability. Perhaps a cure or effective mitigation strategies will come into being that will answer these other issues. Perhaps insurance coverage becomes available.
To those of you who use the pool, the Board waited as long as it could before making a decision. It made its decision based on facts and information available at the time. It was not a rushed decision and one that was made reluctantly. We know that the pool is an important part of our community. That is why the Board made the investment of funds to improve the pool area, bring it up to code standards, and introduce the splash pad. We also recognize that 3 out of 4 homes do not use the pool. The non-pool users bought homes in the subdivision knowing that they would have to maintain the pool facility even if they did not use it. However, the non-pool users did not buy into the subdivision expecting to have the pool used without adequate insurance coverage. Without insurance coverage there is an unforeseen risk to all homeowners, pool user and non-pool user alike.
Community input is welcome. The Board is considering appointing a committee to look into options for next year regarding the pool facility should the Covid-19 pandemic continue into the next year. We are constantly processing new information. We will provide further updates as events unfold on the HOA website, in the Barrington Place Banner Newsletter, the TownSq App, and entrance signs.
'Sweet Cash’ Program Supports Local Businesses, Thanks Frontline Workers
Sugar Land, TX – In an effort to help support businesses that have been negatively affected by COVID-19, the city of Sugar Land and its Sugar Land 4B Corporation are implementing a new initiative called “Sweet Cash” that will leverage private dollars to support local businesses as part of its #AllInForSLTX business recovery effort. Using funds restricted solely for economic development purposes from the Sugar Land 4B Corporation, the Sweet Cash program is both a creative and philanthropic way to stimulate the local economy and encourage shoppers to re-engage with local businesses as the city continues to reopen. Please click here for more details.
COVID-19 Response Update
Management Office: In order to maintain management responsibilities to our communities, office staff has been minimized with all other staff working remotely until authorized to return to the office. Protocols have been put into place in compliance with government guidelines as we are re-open.
Community Inspections: Community inspections have been conducted weekly. Items noted on inspections included unapproved improvements, self-help work orders, certified demand letters for (severe) lawn maintenance and other self-help violations. Routine monthly inspections will resume in the month of June. If owners are experiencing difficulties related to the pandemic, a request for more time to cure the violation/concern can be submitted to the Board for review.
Suspension of Annual Meetings: Under the recommendations received by the association attorney, annual meetings should be suspended until the appropriate authorities deem it safe for people to meet in large groups again. It is not recommended to hold annual meetings via electronic or telephonic means, due to statutory requirements that specifically apply to non-profit corporations and POA’s. Election procedures (solicitation of candidates, notice of meeting) will be followed once appropriate authorities have deemed it safe for people to meet in large groups again.
Suspension of Board Meetings: Until restrictions are amended to allow group gatherings, in-person board meetings have been suspended. Any necessary board meetings will be held by teleconference. Notice of any teleconference board meetings will be posted to the website, sent as an email blast and posted on the TownSq app. The meeting notice will include information necessary for owners to participate in the teleconference meetings. The next board meeting via teleconference is scheduled for June 16th at 7:00pm.
Closure of Common Areas: The common area playground continue to be closed until proper authorities deem it safe to re-open.
Suspension of Community Event Attendance: All community events have been suspended until further notice.
We will continue to monitor this situation and keep you informed of any changes. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns at 713-776-1771 or email at email@example.com.
COVID ONLINE RESOURCES
Barrington Place HOA encourages all homeowners to be up to date with the latest information regarding the COVID 19 epidemic. The public is encouraged to follow these COVID 19 websites and social platforms for ongoing updates. For accurate and reliable information, please be sure to visit any of these online resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/
Texas Health and Human Services https://dshs.texas.gov/
Fort Bend County Health & Human Services https://www.fbchealth.org/
City of Sugar Land http://www.sugarlandtx.gov/
2020 Pool Season
Your Barrington Place HOA Board has had to make an extremely hard decision regarding the 2020 pool season. After review and careful consideration, the Board has agreed that opening the pool under the current Covid-19 conditions is not feasible for the community. The Board understands the pool is a very big part of our community, however, the need to manage the facility safely for our residents is the highest priority. Challenges that have contributed to this decision have included management of minimized capacity restrictions, social distancing enforcement, sanitation protocols, restricted use of the diving board and splash pad, registration and sign in process and liability concerns related to Covid-19.
SLASH PAD UPDATE
The Board wants to share their regret in not being able to open our pool this year and celebrate the construction of the new splash pad and pool renovation project which is scheduled to be completed mid-June. We will continue to update you on the progress of the project and look forward to when we will celebrate this new addition with the community.
A reminder to all homeowners to be careful when walking in this area and not go near the construction areas. Safety is a priority!
MASC Austin Properties, Inc. is excited to announce the launch of TownSq — a new all-in-one mobile app designed to help you connect, collaborate and stay up-to-date with your association – any time on any device. Manage your account and access the resources you need when you need them.
Download the app and register to:
• Easily communicate with your management team
• Manage your account and pay online
• Get up-to-date news and alerts
• Request and review status of service inquiries
• Engage with others residents in your neighborhood
• Access important association documents
• And more!
To register your account, please log onto www.townsq.io, use your Account ID located above your name on the mailing label (see example), and the association zip code (77478). Set your password and account preferences and you will then be ready to start experiencing community your way with TownSq. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this new process as we are excited to offer these new services to your community.
You can contact the Board of Directors with any questions or concerns by clicking here.
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Barrington Place is professionally managed by MASC Austin Properties, Inc.
945 Eldridge Road
Sugar Land, TX 77478
Phone: (713) 776-1771
Fax: (713) 776-1777
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