By Judi Platt
A condo at Eastman is ideal for a vacation/retirement home for us—few worries that we can’t pass on to a property manager, less space to maintain, and no real abdication of privacy—and on a lake and ski/hiking trails. A dream come true! Then, the Center Renovation project popped up, and we had a reawakening.
It quickly became clear to us, first-time condo owners, that we are not really free of all the attendant cares and costs of property ownership beyond the walls of our condo. We are owners of a much larger piece of property, albeit 1/1400th owners, more or less, but owners nonetheless of the common grounds, the buildings like The Center and the South Cove Activity Center, the covered bridge, and most of the roads. It quickly dawned on us that this may be even a bigger deal than managing a couple of acres in rural Connecticut where we make all our own decisions.
Previously reluctant to “bother the management” with questions about operations and/or expenditures, it occurred to us that we not only have a right to, but need to. It’s not like owning a share of common stock which we can just sell in a quick transaction if we don’t like what the company’s leadership is doing. We’re invested in Eastman for the long haul. This is a real capital investment in both our condo and any capital improvements that are planned for our 3,600 acres.
One of our neighbors recently weighed in on the current issue of renovating The Center with an almost apologetic note about being “only a part-timer.” We have a different point of view: there is no such thing as part-time ownership. We all pay full price for our properties; we pay full assessments.* “Weekenders” may use the amenities and common properties less often than full-time residents, but many among them find time to volunteer, serve on committees, and add to the general well-being of our community. And, for many among us, part-time becomes full-time when the time is right. We need to treat this like we do any other investment, with awareness and attention to how it is being managed.
While we cannot as an individual homeowner determine alone how the common grounds and facilities are maintained, transformed, protected, or disposed, we certainly have a collective right—and obligation—to define how we want our investment in Eastman developed. All of us—full-time residents, part-timers, young families, retirees, physically present or not. No, there is no such thing as part-ownership—or part-time investment in our future. We can still live the dream. We just have to be fully conscious when we do.
*The exception is owners of vacant lots.