- The Association's lawyer, who has advised us on pool closing issues and is working with hundreds of other communities facing similar issues will join the Community meeting on Tuesday evening, 6/23/20, to provide information to attendees and answer questions that arise.
- There is evidence for increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections in the nation during the week of June 15, 2020. This situation must be monitored and may lead to a resumption of isolation recommendations and regulations in the city of Frederick. In any case, it does not appear that the number of positive cases are decreasing, therefore the issues leading to the pools remaining closed in Whittier do not appear to be resolving.
- I have heard that the cost of the insurance for the pools this year is a reason the pools cannot open. Could an extra fee be paid by families in Whittier that wish to use the pools? This extra fee could cover the cost of the increase in insurance.
Reply: Our Insurance carrier does not cover claims related to COVID19
- Would it be an option for people to sign a waiver if they wish to use the pools?
Reply: Our lawyer has advised us that waivers in this instance will likely not prevent lawsuits being filed which would still require a response and incur legal costs. Additionally, waivers would likely not apply to children and attending guests.
- I believe the homeowner's association spoke with their attorney and this attorney discouraged the opening of the Whittier pools. At this point, Frederick County health officials are stating the county is past its peak of the first wave of covid-19 and bowling alleys, bingo halls, indoor gyms, and roller/ice skating rinks can happen. Things have changed since the conversation with the attorney. Would you be willing to have another conversation with the attorney?
Reply: Our attorney will be our spokesperson during the Whittier Community Meeting to Address Pool Closings on 6/23/20.
- Creation of a vaccine for COVID-19 is not guaranteed, although scientists are working hard on it. First responders will be the first to receive a vaccine and others may have to wait. It is possible that not every person living in Whittier will receive a vaccination against COVID-19 by May 2021. How many years do you anticipate the community pools will be unavailable to Whittier residents?
Reply: We are only taking action on the pools during this 2020 season and have no information to project anything about the 2021 season.
- It seems that other pools in the area may be opening this season. These pools are located in close proximity to Whittier. Would you consider speaking with the people that manage these community pools to learn about the practices they will be using to open their pools and applying these ideas in Whittier?
Reply: The actions of other pool operations do not impact the reasons we must close our pools.
Why didn't you accept the swimming team offer, it could have easily offset the additional costs of opening the pools under Covid19 regulations.
Reply: The main issue remains not having insurance coverage to cover opening the pools. The additional costs to be in compliance with existing regulations far exceeded the offer to utilize the pools by the swim team.
Why was there no input requested from homeowners specifically on this sensitive subject.
Reply: We've been considering this issue for a long time during our board meetings, which are always open. The information we received from our lawyer about the reasons to close the pools (mostly the liability of the community due to lack of insurance coverage) and the costs to be in compliance with regulations were clear. In view of these issues, we required no other information to make this difficult decision.
- You must have expected backlash on this subject, why didn't you post the full details of actions taken by the board instead of waiting until now.
Reply: We posted the information as soon as the decision was made by postings to our website, signs on the pools, and mailings to the community.
You must have expected backlash on this subject, why didn't you post the full details of actions taken by the board instead of waiting until now and we're still not sure we have all the info.
Reply: We posted the information as soon as the decision was made by both postings to our website, Twitter account, signs on the pools, and a mailing to the community.
(Update posted on June 16, 2020)
On behalf of the Whittier Homeowner Board of Directors, and management, we are providing this update on access to community pools under the current directives necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Board has given careful and thorough consideration of the impacts of the Governor’s Executive Orders as well as those of other federal, state, and local regulations governing the opening of public pools, and the financial burdens of compliance. As you may have heard, the Board has made the difficult decision that the community pools will not open for the 2020 season.
FIRST: To make a fully informed decision, the Board of Directors considered information provided by our pool management company, community management, Association legal counsel, Association insurance broker, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and local and State resources.
SECOND: We are mandated to follow all of Phase 1 operating requirements that have been established.
THIRD: We are unsure of what phase, policies, or guidelines will be in place throughout the summer as directed by the State of Maryland, and the Frederick County Health Department. Opening the pools could potentially result in a significant impact to your Homeowner Association funds. The mandatory operating requirements present challenges for compliance. They require disinfection multiple times a day as well as practicing routine cleaning and disinfection of the everyday use, high contact areas, and all hard surfaces, including but not limited to doorknobs, tables, chairs, light switches, handrails, floors, and other equipment. Hiring additional staff would be necessary so that the lifeguards' attention would not take away from their primary responsibility of patron surveillance and injury prevention. The hiring of additional staff would also be needed to ensure social distancing, in and out of the pool, as well as ensuring masks are being worn when not in the pool. All of these additional duties and additional staff would add significant expenses to open the three pools for the balance of the season.
FOURTH: After consulting with our attorney, management, insurance provider, the CDC, and Federal/State/Local regulations , we made our decision to close the pools for the season. It has been determined that the Whittier Homeowner HOA insurance coverage DOES NOT cover damages due to COVID-19 illness. Any opening of the pools would potentially expose our community to a liability that could further likely result in damages that could bankrupt the Association.
With so much uncertainty, we hope that you, our members, understand that this decision was not made lightly. Our responsibilities as directors are guided by preserving the community and being fiscally responsible with community funds. This demands a more cautious approach during these times. The safety and well-being of our community is our top priority.
Thank you for your understanding and support.
Whittier Board of Directors
Dear Whittier Homeowner:
The members of the Board of Directors (Board) for the Whittier Community Association (Association) sincerely hope that you and your family are safe and well during these trying times. We are grateful that many of the “essential” services provided to our community have been able to continue without interruption.
Having given careful consideration to the many issues which will affect our community pool during the ongoing evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, including advice from the Association’s attorney, the various state and local restrictions on opening pools, and the exposure of the Association to liability due to no insurance coverage for COVID-19 related issues, your Board has determined that the pools will not open this summer.
This decision was not made in haste nor without consideration of all that would be necessary to manage the COVID-19 restrictions which include supplemental staffing, pool pass distribution, disinfecting and social distancing/capacity enforcement. In addition to the liability concerns, the additional costs involved with these restrictions would be substantial. The Association’s attorney also advised that individuals signing waivers does not fully protect the Association from liability exposure. Your Board is aware of how disappointing this is for many of our residents; however, this decision was made in the best interest of the safety and health of all Whittier residents.
Many of you may also wonder about the closing of this amenity as it might relate to the future of the annual assessment. Please understand that any discussion of “adjusting” the assessment amount at this time is premature in that we cannot predict if the COVID-19 pandemic might affect other services and costs for the association. In addition, maintenance of the pool facilities will need to continue as a preventative measure and to keep the facility in good shape for future years. There are many other factors that must be considered not the least of which is being able to pay other financial obligations while understanding some of our community members are struggling financially due to a pandemic-related situation. Rest assured that the Board will closely monitor Association finances and consider this issue later in the year.
We look forward to the end of this crisis and wish you continued good health.
The Board of Directors,
Whittier Community Association