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Coop Outdoor Play Area for Children
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I live on the UES and my Coop Board wants to turn our outside, beautifully planted courtyard into a children's play area. The board has ignored the majority vote of the shareholders who are against it. The apartments that face the courtyard will now be facing a playground. The once quiet courtyard will now be a screaming playground. Shareholders facing the courtyard fear that the value of their once quiet apartments will decrease. So far the board has not mentioned any equipment. The board moreless said - screw you we're doing what we want. Does anyone know if there are any legal issues as far as liability to the shareholders if one of the kids get hurt? Would appreciate any suggestions on how to stop this. Thanks, SammyGirl

I understand your point about the downsides and potential liability. Just look in the mirror before you dedicate hours of your life going on a crusade to stop a children's playground from being built in your backyard. Do you really want to be that person?

If the Board consistently operates in a high-handed manner, your best option might be to run for the Board.

A few procedural questions: You say, "The board has ignored the majority vote of the shareholders who are against it." Was the question brought to a formal vote at a shareholders' meeting? Was the motion a clearly-worded rejection of the proposed playground? According to your by-laws, was it binding?

As for managing liability, that would be a topic for the corporation attorney and the coop's insurance carrier. Are you looking at liability as a possible wedge issue to stop the project?

jhochle has a good point. You might want to check out the Kurosawa movie "Ikiru". If nothing else, you'll get a good cry.

Yes. It was a vote at the Board meeting. The Board is being a typyical NYC Board and doing what they want. Run for the Board - no way. I want out of this building if this is the way it's going to be run. We had a wonderful board and somehow this new breed of board members got voted in. I mainly bought my apartment for the quiet view of the courtyard. None of the board members face it!

SammyGirl, what is a screaming playground? What type of apparatus is found in a screaming playground? Is it different than your typical playground?

playgrounds have equipment.
courtyards w/o equipment are already play areas.
these must be confusing board meetings. clearly someone needs to step in.

Howard35 - A screaming playground is a lot to kids playing. This is a courtyard that many of the apartments face - especially on the ground level. Maybe the word "playground" is incorrect. It is being made into a play area for the children in the building. I like kids, but I think this is pushing it by the board. Gee, isn't it funny that all the Board members have young kids that their nanny's take care of. The kids in this building only represent 22% of the building. We voted against it and the board is doing what they want. There is no confusion - UWM. The courtyard was just renovated 2 years ago. It is for everyone in the budilding - it's just not a play area.

Nothing to stop you from playing out there too. Do you have any lawn darts?

How big is the building? If others feel this way, can you engage in whatever procedures your ByLaws provide for recalling board members and holding a special election?

As for "do you want to be that person....?", I'd say that, yes, you do want to be that person. I'd happily be the person who protects the building from liability, who preserves the value of apartments, etc.

"we voted against it". Was that most of the building or most of the shares?

I love kids but what about supervision? Would this just be a convenient place to dump off the kids and disappear? That should be one of the main questions along with the liability issue. As far as the vote, those who voted it down should start making some real noise. And I mean noise. As they say, you can't have peace without a war and unfortunately that's what it will take. Don't back down.

this is a good one. nothing divides people more than the idea of having kids being kids in a shared outdoor area where they might be overheard. Nevermind the ambulances, fire engines, cars and drunks making noise all day and night. It's right up there with abortion and politics.

I agree that your board should honor the vote, or they shouldn't have put it up for a vote. My guess is that we are not getting the full story on the vote.

I would think there would be plenty of buyers looking for a building with a safe play area. I doubt it would hurt resale value at all.

gcondo, I agree, however unsupervised kids would be a real liability. I am thinking about saftey and all the problems that go with it. Personally, I would not drop a kid off and leave, but I know darned well that others would. There are no bad kids, just bad parenting. I see it all the time and feel bad for the kids. Which parent would be the first to sue if there was an issue, the one who is there watching? I don't think so.

"those who voted it down should start making some real noise."

yes, you could go out to the non-play area courtyard and start screaming like wild children. you know, to make your point.

There is a certain time in early childhood when they just delight in making noise. If I'd purchased an apartment with a view of a lovely planted courtyard only to see it morph into a playground, I'd be concerned, too. Some parents don't realize that their little ones aren't always as charming as they'd like to think. Why not find the nearest playground & hang out there for a while to see what the decibel level is. If the noise concerns you, get your other owners to recreate that noise in the courtyard & see if you can't rally more support?

It sounds like this is an enclosed courtyard that would be the "back" of most apts. There really is no street noise, cars, drunks etc in an area like this.

It will most certainly hurt the value of 1 BR apts that face this area if the noise is considerable. People with families tend not to buy 1 BR apts.

It will possibly raise the maintenance costs if there are any expenses associated with the conversion.

If it were me, I would fight it until the end. However, I would also raise the idea of having hours of operation. The weekends will be the biggest problem as everyone is home. There is nothing worse than hearing that kind of noise all day on a saturday.

"There is nothing worse than hearing that kind of noise all day on a saturday."

Which brings to mind; the most use would at a time of the year when people want to open their windows. I have two words of advice, Central Park. When I was a kid on the UES, we had a backyard and for kids that was for reading, coloring or napping. We knew from day one that it was not for creating a disturbance for others. Of course more people utilized what was already available for play areas. This is another attempt yet again to suburbanize Manhattan which is not the same culture.

Wow. The self-righteousness of those criticizing SammyG makes clear just how much she has to fear from having a playground outside her window. Every parent thinks little Johnnie is an angel, everyone should think he is just as adorable as do the parents, and how dare anyone question Johnnie's right to expropriate common space for his own use (and the use of everyone else in his play group that don't want to go to the park and have to mix with the common folk)?

I don't know why anyone suggests that you think twice about opposing this misuse of the coop's assets. I suggest you offer some alternatives. Perhaps the dog owners would like a more convenient dog run, rather than having to trek over to the park? Maybe a nice tennis or basketball court? Or, better yet, round up the 78% of people in the building that don't have kids and make a proposal to turn the courtyard into an outdoor bar with a pool table, a few pop-a-shots, and perhaps a mechanical bull. Of course, propose that all of the unit owners pay for the equipment and maintenance, and the cost of uprooting the courtyard they paid for a few years ago, regardless of whether you can or would use it. Include an estimate of the noise, expense, and potential liablity to the building from this change, how many of those affected are in favor, and offer to compare it with whatever estimates have been prepared by the board for the playground (which is none).

If you want to be less sarcastic, you could also propose that those in favor put their money where their self-serving mouths are, and (a) pay for it themselves, and (b) indemnify the corporation and the owners from any liability. In most buildings, the residents who use building property devoted to things like storage space, gyms, laundry, etc. have to pay for them, so why should some subset of the building be using its assets, and exposing it to liabilities, to serve themselves.

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ok, i'll be serious for a minute.

do children not play in the area now?

what are the proposed changes?

Way to go Sport. And, btw when my son grew up with me on the UWS I had a terrace and guess what he was allowd to do and not do? That's right. He is now an adult who is considerate of others, if I do say so myself. The best parent is a non-biased one. You know, objective. When my neighbors felt compelled to have a backyard for their kids, they moved to the suburbs. Not to sound mean, but in Manahattan it is about compromise and you cannot have it all. That is why most people get along just fine here.

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If its not a playground, what exactly is an outdoor play area and how does it differ from a courtyard? Instead of being hysterical on this board, perhaps you should clearly describe this situation.
- What exactly are they proposing to do? Better yet how much will it cost both the initial fee and the presumably increased insurance costs once its in place. What does your by-laws say about this kind of improvement and expenditures
- Did the majority of the shareholders vote down this proposal or you are just indicating "most people" didn't want it? The courtyard is for the benefit of all the shareholders - just because you are a crotchy person doesn't mean everyone agrees with you.

Uwsmom posed a key question: What is the actual project? What does it mean to "turn our outside, beautifully planted courtyard into a children's play area"? Are the changes primarily physical, or is the Board mostly tinkering with rules related to use of the space?

Ignored comment. Unhide

This is a classic. Ship of Theseus. At what point does your beautifully planted courtyard designated for use by all turn into a screaming playground for children? It's very possible that the proposed changes have already completely changed the game. It's also very possible to try to work with your board to find common ground. Or you could heed the advice of the majority of posters in this thread and stomp around in anger. Good Luck!

If the concern is the cost, then couldn't this operate like playrooms in some buildings where there's a use fee added to the maintenance. That way the costs would be borne by the users rather than the entire building.

Would there be any way to compensate those apts affected with a reduced maintenance? Changes in share allocation? There are clearly asymetrical benefits to different residents and costs should be allocated accordingly.

If the concern is the cost, then couldn't this operate like playrooms in some buildings where there's a use fee added to the maintenance. That way the costs would be borne by the users rather than the entire building.

Would there be any way to compensate those apts affected with a reduced maintenance? Changes in share allocation? There are clearly asymetrical benefits to different residents and costs should be allocated accordingly.

off topic - am i the only one who didn't see E24's post until today, even though it says it was posted 3 days ago?? this has actually happened to me before on this board. anyone else notice this? i want to be sure i'm not slipping in and out of a fugue state!

Those affected most, should be heard the loudest.

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How do people feel about children playing in the hallway even though it is against the rules?

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