Limited Reopening of Tollgate Village Pool and Tennis Courts
Limited Reopening of Tollgate Village Pool and Tennis Courts
What follows is a letter sent by Ghertner & Co. on behalf of the Tollgate Village Board of Directors:
Date: May 01, 2020
Subject: Amenities: COVID-19
As your HOA Board, we are continually monitoring developments regarding the COVID-19 Virus and the implications for safely operating our neighborhood facilities. We too are anxious for all of our amenities to open back up as soon as possible, and understand the frustration this unprecedented situation brings to all of us.
As you know, we have closed the tennis courts, playground, pool parking lot, clubhouse and swimming pool out of an abundance of caution and in compliance with legal advise.
For the near future, we continue to believe this is the correct course of action, notwithstanding the recently announced phased re-opening of businesses.
Continued social distancing is essential to curb the spread of the COVID-19 Virus. We urge all residents to please continue to do this when walking in the neighborhood.
So that all Residents realize the implications of re-opening the amenities too early, we must consider real life implications. All insurance policies, including ours, have a specific Exclusion concerning "Viruses". This very important Exclusion simply means that if a claim is brought against the Association, not only will there be no cost of defense of the claim paid by the insurance company, but should a Judgment be rendered against the Association, the insurance company will not be required to pay any amount towards satisfaction of that Judgment. In effect, we will be uninsured. This risk is not one which we can take, as a Community. The Judgment would have to be satisfied. Either our current funds would be completely liquidated or a Special Assessment would have to be issued and each of us will have to pay our own portion. Your HOA Board serves solely on a volunteer basis and we must make decisions for our Community which are in its best interests. Putting us all at financial risk, at this time, is not the prudent course for us to take.
Association and dues will remain unchanged. While this may be surprising, the Association still has expenses it must pay for on the amenities such as electricity, insurance, landscape maintenance, regular maintenance and the large pool resurface project that is underway. The Association has lost some income as well since the clubhouse has not been available for rental for almost two months.
We will keep you informed on a timely basis going forward and thank you for your understanding during this difficult time.
Tollgate Village Board of Directors
To summarize, Tollgate's pool and outdoor tennis courts will continue to be closed in the "near future", and no criteria have been established around which that situation might change. However, it is the position of many dues-paying Tollgate homeowners, including myself, that this decision is unwarranted. What follows is a discussion around both the risks and possible mitigations that surround the operation of the tennis courts and pools, the two targets of this petition. Some of it rests on the growing body of evidence from China and elsewhere that suggests outdoor transmission is vastly less likely than indoor transmission.
In the case of the tennis courts, distancing is easy, and the primary risk is contact risk from the ball and the surfaces players touch to enter and exit the court itself. This is about as low-density as it gets, and the county has already begun to open indoor tennis courts in one of its Brentwood facilities. The following mitigation steps should address the risks around the tennis courts almost completely:
1.) The courts should be open only to residents. Visitors will not be allowed.
2.) Only singles matches will be allowed. Specifically, only two people on a court at any given time.
3.) All participants must sign a liability release form indicating that they will not bring legal action against the association. (This is almost superfluous, given the first point, given they would be bringing action against themselves.)
4.) No sharing of equipment will be allowed.
The pool is a harder case to make, as there are potentially both airborne and contact risks. Even here, there are mitigation steps we can take. (Let's keep in mind that we do not even employ a lifeguard.)
1.) No pool toys, aside from flotation devices for children not yet able to swim, will be permitted.
2.) The pool should be open only to residents. Visitors will not be allowed. No parties, even of immediate families of more than 6 people, will be allowed. A drivers license will be required upon entry, either showing a valid Tollgate address, or name-matching with the resident roster. (This can also be done via e-mail or a simple DocuSign form.)
3.) All participants must sign a liability release form indicating that they will not bring legal action against the association. (This is almost superfluous, given the previous point, given they would be bringing action against themselves.)
4.) All pool furniture will be off-limits, stored either off-site or in the corner of the pool area in an unusable fashion. If parties wish to bring their own chairs, they may do so.
5.) The pool attendant, and any other workers involved in pool maintenance (restrooms, etc.) will be required to wear a protective mask.
6.) Parties must maintain the recommended distance of 6 feet while outside the pool.
7.) Nightly disinfection of bathrooms, gates, and railings will be performed, in accordance with CDC guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html
8.) If density is a concern, one mitigation would be to, in conjunction with point 2, stagger availability. For example, residents with odd addresses would be able to access the pool on M/W/F, even addresses on T/T/S, with Sunday reserved as a cleaning day.
These are either easily enforceable by the attendant we traditionally employ at the pool entrance, are simply marginally more aggressive normal maintenance, or are likely to be followed voluntarily. Maintaining proper pool chemistry alone remains the single most important element of any public pool reopening plan.
Our goal is to ensure that Tollgate residents can safely enjoy the pool this summer, once the planned resurfacing work has been completed. For that to happen, the dialog around what that will look like needs to start somewhere, and concrete support for the plan above, which is only a first, very conservative step on the road to normalization, should push us in that direction.