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Village reacts to looming condo crisis

Last month’s CVE Reporter front page story detailing a lack of participation on building boards has sparked a flood of discussion and reaction across the village.


It is time for CVE to restructure its way of operations to mirror Boca Raton and Wynmoor,” wrote Abe Gonshor of Lyndhurst I.


“This, in light of the difficulty in finding volunteers to manage association buildings as [the CVE Reporter] so clearly detailed,” added Gonshor.


In Century Village East, there are 254 buildings requiring 253 boards to run them. At a minimum, over 1,200 residents are needed to properly run all the buildings.


Buildings in Century Village Boca Raton do not have their own individual boards.  Each area is run by a single board of directors, overseeing all the buildings in that area.  In Wynmoor, a retirement community in Coconut Creek, there is one single board that oversees every building. 


As a result, both communities require a fraction of the number of residents needed in Century Village East to serve in leadership positions.


Last month, the CVE Reporter focused a spotlight on the difficulty of finding residents willing to serve on building boards of directors.  The article chronicled the severe lack of volunteerism, and the obstacles that prevent many buildings from filling their boards.


The possible consequence of not properly filling a condominium board includes risking the building entering into court-ordered receivership.  Receivership is a process that could cost condos thousands of dollars per month and threaten the building’s financial stability.


The new president of COOCVE, Donna Capobianco wrote “a quick analysis appears to indicate annual association receivership costs can run between $50,000 and $100,000 on average. Some cost factors are condo size, property condition, rental vs non-rental, financial condition, legal status, liabilities,…[and what] legal actions the association may potentially be involved in.”


The January CVE Reporter article was also the topic of comments at village meetings.  During the January Council of Area Chairs meeting, one member urged others to read the story. His plea was met with thumbs up and nods of agreement from several in attendance who believed the story highlighted an important issue that requires immediate attention.


Meanwhile, that same area chair meeting served as a clear example of the problems facing the village. At the time of the meeting, several neighborhoods were without area chairs, including Ashby, Cambridge, Ventnor, and Westbury. One attendee from Farnham told the group they have been “looking for someone for a while.”  The vice chair from Harwood said he only agreed to serve on a temporary basis. Finally, some individuals who currently hold positions told the group they would gladly step down if anyone else stepped forward.


The January CVE Reporter story also detailed the workload associated with volunteering and reported how residents do not want to take on the responsibilities.  Following the story, Kathaleen Wells notified COOCVE leadership she was resigning as the Ashby chair, explaining she “held the office for six or seven years and has not been able to find help or have a meeting.”  She told COOCVE how the job had been “dumped” on her when the previous chair quit.


Wells also serves as the president of her building, providing an example of how common it is for residents to fill more than one position, thus increasing the burden of volunteering.


The head of the area chairs, in fact, not only serves as the head of the group, but also is paid to serve on the board of buildings in which she doesn’t live because those buildings can’t find people in their own buildings to serve. In addition, she also holds a position on the board of CVE Master Management. Meanwhile, the new president of COOCVE is now her neighborhood’s area chair because no one else stepped forward.


Also sparking village reaction was the issue of full-time versus seasonal residency, and how it affects individuals’ willingness to volunteer for leadership positions.


I understand northerners' attitude to treat their time here as vacation, but they are owners in our CVE community with a financial stake in the health of our community,” wrote Sherry Picker. “With technology, they can certainly serve year-round and attend the needed meetings.”


Many seasonal residents view their time in the village as leisure time.  The last thing they want to do is spend a winter vacation volunteering, attending meetings, and dealing with the difficulties arising from serving on boards.


Discussions concerning the structure of the village its impact on boards’ ability to fill positions are also prompting a reexamination of whether there are better ways for buildings to work together on other issues.


Several months ago, hundreds of residents came together to explore the pros and cons of buildings working together to reduce property insurance costs.  While insurance presented its own unique set of complications, some are beginning to quietly ask whether a similar idea could help buildings in other areas.


With 242 buildings all facing comparable challenges and similar expenses, residents are asking whether the time has come to find a way for buildings to team up together and reduce costs.  Instead of one building negotiating one-on-one for repairs, buildings might have more buying power, and be able to take advantage of economies of scale if they negotiated together.


The solution to both filling vacant board seats as well as reducing costs may require a shift in thinking away from viewing the village as 242 autonomous buildings, and instead viewing it as a collective of buildings working together.

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