Woodland House Condo Pariah Takes Another Shot At Her Board of Directors, This Time Over Lobby Furniture
If Only Joan Rivers Were My Condo Board President
Many celebrities live in New York City, yet comedienne Joan Rivers may be the only condo board president among them. She joined the board almost twenty-five years ago.
“I wanted things done right,” she recently told The New York Times.
Nine years ago, Ms. Rivers stepped up to the role of president; she describes sprucing up the lobby as one of her proudest accomplishments.
How bad did the lobby look before she got involved?
The furniture used to consist of a card table and an old desk chair, Rivers says.
I confess: For years I walked through the lobby without looking to the right or to the left. But last winter someone angled the threadbare couch into the room, and it became impossible to ignore.
With a little investigation, I discovered that the couch could be reupholstered for about $500, and proposed it during the public comment portion of a board meeting.
“No,” said Board President Peter Beckmann. “I want to complete the carpet purchase process currently underway before getting involved in other projects.”
After the Board authorized the carpet purchase, I brought up the couch again.
I want the carpet to be installed and have time to get used to it first,” Mr. Beckmann said, even though the association has budgeted $8,000 this fiscal year for updating the lobby. And even though state law mandates that condo boards maintain the building’s common elements. And especially in light of my whopping $7,900/year condo fee.
Last week, for example, Treasurer Bill Cibes successfully lobbied to spend $3,000 for a 100-decibal horn, to be hooked to the Security Desk in the lobby. It will blare if a particular fence gate is opened.
Although Board President Peter Beckmann presented the purchase as a way to bolster security, the fact that the fence gate only opens outward was given short shrift. (That means no one can get in from the outside unless a resident lets them in.)
Dr. Cibes and Mr. Beckmann seem to be concerned that such a person might descend the stairs to the locked (from the inside) emergency exit, and then walk down a 35-foot concrete path to sneak guests into the building.
Was he referring to the unexpected Halloween storm last October, when the snow quickly melted? Or to February 2011, the last time any measurable precipitation fell in Hartford before then? And was the building superintendent questioned to see if he or his assistant had trod on the fresh snow?
Dr. Cibes and Mr. Beckmann’s concerns (to the tune of spending $3,000 for a loud warning horn) make me wonder if they think we’re back in the day when college girls snuck boys into their dorm rooms? Or if they’re worried that a resident might admit an unsavory character?
It’s laughable because we can bring whomever we want into the building through either the underground garage or the side door on the mezzanine level.
Perhaps board members want to feel as if they control what goes on here.
On that score, I’ve gone off the reservation by blogging on CtCondoNews. Some people don’t like it: the board president’s wife screamed at me during a public meeting; the treasurer’s wife has told people I’m crazy; and the Board is in the process of restricting unit owner input at board meetings.
To be patently honest, I sometimes feel afraid here. Fearful that board members or their friends might try to physically harm me for speaking out. Yet Eleanor Roosevelt’s words cheer me on: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”
After all, isn’t that what Joan Rivers has done during her long career?