Highland Lakes

Country Club and Community Association

An Updated Message from Club President Michael Gelfand

April 22, 2020

Dear Club Members,

I hope this note finds you, your family, friends and neighbors all in good health and spirits. I want to share my perspective with you regarding Club operations and management during this global health and financial crisis.

As discussed in my previous letter to members, meetings, events, and activities have been cancelled since mid-March, and most Club facilities have been closed as well, in keeping with guidance from our local, state and federal governments to encourage self-distancing. As the weather grows warmer and we move closer to the traditional time of year that outdoor activities in our community kick into gear, members will be asking what type of Highland Lakes summer should be expected.

The answer is complicated and multi-faceted, so I apologize in advance for this note being long and dense, but it’s important to get into the details, and I hope you’ll stay with me all the way through. Will the Club operate the beaches? What about Clubhouse activities? Sports programs? Entertainment? Sailing races? The Annual Meeting? The honest—and only truthful—answer to give right now is that no one knows. What I hope for and what I expect are two different outcomes, and each one will be partially right, and partially wrong.

No one knows how long the stay-at-home and social distancing guidance will remain in place, and you should know that the Club is resolute in its obligation to abide by these directives. No matter how glorious the weather may be in May and June, and though there is a chance that our traditional summer programs will be unaffected, we must be prepared that they will be partially affected, and recognize the possibility that they’ll be completely cancelled. Clearly, as I write this in late April we know that nothing is certain, and for this reason the Club continues to assess the possibilities and plan for every outcome.

The Club remains acutely aware that the social distancing requirements and the abrupt closure of businesses have posed a significant financial challenge to our country, our state, and our members, some of whom have had their jobs furloughed and earnings decimated during this crisis. Recognizing these developments and financial pressures, the Voting Board signaled to our members-in-good-standing on March 23 that it was prepared to act swiftly to allay financial concerns some members have regarding their financial obligations to the Club by:

  • suspending monthly late payment charges for the months of April, May, and June for those who were not currently eligible for the Late Payment Charge Grace Period.
  • extending through the end of June the Late Payment Charge Grace Period for those members who had already qualified for the Grace Period through the end of May.
  • qualifying lot owners, whose only obligation to the Club is the 2020 dues and assessments, for the Late Payment Charge Grace Period with payments not due until June 30.
  • additionally, qualifying seniors and the permanently disabled received an additional two months to apply for the discount of $510.

Closed facilities and canceled activities means that planned expenses in this year’s budget will not be incurred. Additional expenses related to securing our facilities to comply with various executive orders from Governor Murphy, and requirements imposed by the Sussex County Division of Health, cannot be anticipated at this time. Reduced revenues from the suspension of late payment charges for three months already have an impact. Additional revenue shortfalls from reduced dues payments will not be known for some time. These items and more are the unknowns challenging the Voting Board at this moment.

The Voting Board is accountable to the membership for guiding our community through this crisis, and it would not be fulfilling its responsibilities if it did not recognize the economic damage suffered by some of our residents, plan for the reduction of activities and operations that may take place, and manage the impact of this crisis in ways that meet the needs of the membership and the Club. The Voting Board’s obligation is to take a pragmatic view of the situation, and we recognize that some well-intentioned inquiries and suggestions from members may help inform our decision-making process. Right now, though, acting quickly when so much is unknown would be impulsive and premature. The end of this crisis and its economic damages are moving targets, and we hope you recognize that we don’t have enough facts right now to make fundamental financial decisions about our future.

As you can see from the chart above, relatively speaking summer activities (beaches, athletics, Clubhouse events and activities) account for a small portion (approximately 11%) of our total budget, but carry a disproportionate weight in our hearts because they are so important to the spirit of our community, the friendships that they spawn, and the generational memories that have been created through them.

The Club is governed by compassionate Voting Board members elected by you to assess each unique situation that affects our community with fact-based observations to determine the right course of action to take, both short- and long-term. We take our responsibilities seriously and always with the best interests of our community. Every Voting Board member is a member just as you are—we each have the same stake in our community as you.

So you’ve read this far and may be wondering why I gave you such a long explanation without something concrete to offer. The answer is that I believe it’s important for you to know that the Club is aware of and sympathetic to the difficulties that many members like you may be facing right now, whether physical, mental, social, spiritual and/or financial.

We count on our members to understand the intricate and dynamic challenges we face, and appreciate the weight of the responsibilities that come with making them. This process may not satisfy everyone, and may take longer than some would prefer, but deliberate decision-making practices like these ensure our community operates in the interest of all of its members. By providing context around the issues we face and by sharing the challenges inherent in our decision-making process, it is my hope that members are reassured that the Voting Board is—as always—acting in the best interest of the entire community.

In the meantime, I thank you for your continued cooperation following health guidelines, and appreciate your patience and faith as we navigate through this crisis together.

On behalf of the Voting Board,


Michael Gelfand

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