This past weekend the annual pool party was held in my own high-rise condominium community. This event has become a huge extravaganza. This year’s entertainment included a DJ, hula-hoop contest, beer chugging contest, belly dancers, Middle Eastern drummers, and someone performing with a fire sword or some such device. After 5 hours of DJ music, drummers and belly dancing – I was ready to retire to my condo. I missed the fire sword performance. Overall the party was very entertaining and everyone seemed to have a grand time.
So, what prompted the writing of this blog?
Sometimes it is difficult for me to leave my professional hat at my office, even when enjoying a social event in my own community. It might serve me well to adopt a mental attitude of “it will never happen here” when attending association events where I live. Because I understand the potential liability and huge expense it could cost my neighbors and me if “something bad does happens here,” this is very difficult for me.
My first concern of the day was glass in the pool area. Our community has a strict “No Glass at the Pool” policy and for good reason. In the event of broken glass entering the pool – that is it, party over! The pool would have to be closed, drained, cleaned and refilled. Any idea how much the water bill would be to refill a large pool? A bill of a few thousands could be expected. Instead of setting up the bar for the pool party just outside a pool gate; the bar was rolled into the pool area and beverage service including glass bottled beer was served just steps away from the edge of the pool. This is what prompted my “what if analysis and training” to kick-in and cause a red flag to pop up in my professional brain … even at a social event in my home community. Neighbors expressed their concern. However, the board members and property management representatives present did not feel the same level of concern and the issue was simply pushed aside. Heck, it was only one day, one party…
The second event that really caused concern in my professional brain and quickly produced flashes of liability, lawsuits, and more…a beer chugging / swimming contest. This contest required participants to chug a beer, swim across the pool, chug another beer and then swim back across the pool to the finish line. Does anyone see any potential problems with this event? On some level it must have been entertaining to watch. The crowd enjoyed it as neighbors and board members were cheering the contestants on. I was somewhat stunned that this was occurring in our pool, in our community. The thoughts continued … what if something goes wrong; how much have the participants had to drink prior to the contest; one misstep can cause someone to become hurt or worse, etc. Thank goodness, nothing happened.
It is my opinion that if you work as a professional in the community association management field or volunteer as a community leader – it is your responsibility to protect your community from potential liability due to possible negligence or failure to think through potential issues with activities condoned by the board and management company. As a professional, I would have advised the community volunteers that placing the bar close to the pool when serving bottles may not be a good idea and is contrary to the rules established by the association. The same counsel holds true with the beer chugging / swimming contest. Had someone been injured or worse, the board members, management company and community members cheering on the contestants would be the first to be named in a lawsuit.
Throughout the country, communities / associations have been the focus of litigation when events of this type take an unexpected or unanticipated turn. As a result; some associations / owners have lost lawsuits and paid inordinate amounts of monies for a seemingly innocent event. The “it will never happen here” or “it is only one day, one event” becomes “OH, NO…I don’t believe that just happened” or “Call 911”.
Maybe I am overly cautious, but when one has knowledge of very similar situations that have not ended so happily – it is difficult not to become concerned for my own community. For those of you living in common-interest communities – Celebrate, party and enjoy your neighbors. Please do so in a responsible and protective manner.
Meanwhile, I had a really good time at our pool party visiting with neighbors / friends. And for the record, I totally support community events and over time have participated in planning and facilitating events in my home community.