For those of you who follow this blog, you know that each Labor Day, I write a parody talking about a day in the life of a Board member, at a particularly annoying condominium. This year however, in light of the Champlain Towers tragedy, I just don’t think it’s right to start cracking condominium jokes just yet. In time, but just not now.
On the other hand, my Labor Day column always concludes with honoring those board members who choose to serve on their board and help their community. That will not change. In fact, if there ever was a year that all Board members should be thanked and honored, this is that year.
The Covid crisis has effected each and every community in Florida in so many ways. Many of you, including those that serve on boards and continued to serve on boards, have seen your neighbors pass away. Many of you came down with the virus and survived a horrific health experience. Many of you were hospitalized for days or weeks without having any visitors. Many of you have lost jobs, your family businesses and your income. It has been a long and difficult road that unfortunately continues to twist and turn. We just cannot get to the finish line and we don’t know the other bumps in the road that lie ahead.
Every board member over the last year and a half was faced with monumental tasks. In spite of the fact that money was tight for so many owners, the condominium’s bills had to get paid. All boards were faced with endless decisions on whether to close the pool, close the clubhouse, allow visitors, allow deliveries, require masks, allow realtors. In addition, provisions had to be made to hire extra hands to disinfect and clean the common areas so that the residents don’t get sick. Boards had to stay abreast of the Governor’s orders to determine if The State of Florida was or wasn’t in a State of Emergency and know whether they were or were not allowed the emergency powers granted to them by statute. And no matter what decisions were made by these board members, somebody was going to be unhappy. But you hung in there and made the decisions you thought were right and in the best interests of your community.
And then came that tragic day when the Champlain Towers Condominium came crashing down in Surfside killing over 100 people. I certainly can’t recall a sadder day in the history of our state; at least not in my life time. Besides being absolutely shocking, that day clearly was a wake-up call to all board members to ensure the condition of the property. I think all Board members realized on that day and the ensuing days that whether my friends and fellow unit owners like it or not, the condominium is going to have at least some form of reserve accounts going forward and whether we have to beg, borrow or steal we are going to fix and maintain all parts of the common elements that may also come crashing down if we continue to ignore them.
Despite the incredible difficulties and new challenges board members across our state were now dealing with, they hung in there. They didn’t resign. They held on, took a deep breath and faced these challenges head on with vigor and determination. They didn’t fold up their tent and quit when the going got real tough. In fact, thousands continued to attend on-line educational classes from their home so that they could learn more about what they should and should not be doing during this terrible time in our history. Many put the interests of their community behind even their own families.
So, on this Labor Day I tip my hat to those that continue to volunteer in our communities as board members despite knowing that the job is harder than ever and I honor those who perished in Surfside and promise the victims and their families that as a result of their catastrophe, Florida law will forever change and lead to greater safety for all current and future Florida condominium residents.