Highland Lakes

Country Club and Community Association

From the Desk of President Michael Gelfand

March 25, 2020

Dear Club Members,

I hope this note finds you, your family, friends and neighbors all in good health. I’m writing to share information with you about Club operations during the current global health crisis.

Most, if not all of our members, are faced by serious challenges—health, social, financial, etc—posed by the coronavirus and corresponding social lockdown mandated by our local, state and federal governments. It’s helpful to remember in trying times such as these that we’re all in this together. Some members call Highland Lakes home, other members own second homes here, but at the end of the day we’re all Highland Lakers, and for every member who is currently here we’re all facing similar, obvious difficulties and threats.

Current federal guidance strongly recommends that anyone fleeing New York to avoid getting sick—as any reasonable person would do if they could—should self-quarantine wherever they end up for 14 days, whether that’s in Highland Lakes, Canada, or elsewhere. Each of us, however we got here, either returning from a warmer climate or New York City, has a moral obligation and social responsibility to follow this guidance to stay at home, to self-isolate, and to practice self-distancing. We owe it to each other to protect each other, and to remember to be kind toward one another.

We’re all struggling to maintain social distancing when we’re outside. And some of us are grappling with the challenges of self-quarantining to protect ourselves from others, and/or to protect others from ourselves. Let’s stay focused on what matters and control what we can control—avoiding contact with others, staying healthy, and talking with each other via telephone and internet rather than in person, as tempting as it might be. It’s not a recommendation—it’s a common sense approach we all must take until this crisis has passed.

Necessary changes to Club operations
Springtime is typically an incredibly busy time of year for the Club and its members, but due to this crisis, “business-as-usual” operations have given way to serve the greater good of our community. As you probably already know, all meetings, events, and activities have been shutdown, as have many of our facilities. These actions have been taken with the best interests of our community at mind, to protect each of us from this horrible virus.

Right now, the safety, security and well-being of members and employees continues to be our primary concern, and these concerns take precedence over everything else. Some members may be frustrated that they cannot use all of our facilities as they otherwise might during normal times. The Club does not apologize for the inconvenience, as it should be inherently obvious to all that these unusual and dangerous circumstances we’re faced with dictate what we must do right now. Our lives are at stake, and that’s where the Club’s focus needs to be until that threat has passed.

What follows is a general overview of what the Club has done to date to support critical operations and safeguard our community:

  • The Clubhouse is closed for use until further notice to promote social distancing. All Club meetings, activities, and events have been suspended until federal, state and local health authorities signal that future gatherings are essentially risk-free.
  • Access to the Club office is prohibited, though office staff is answering the phones while others are working remotely.
  • The Club is actively identifying members who may lack the support of family and friends during this crisis – details will follow how you can help.
  • Playgrounds and courts throughout our community have been closed to guard against the spread of coronavirus, and to promote social distancing.
  • Security staff continues to operate. If you have an emergency, please contact the Vernon Police Department at 9-1-1. If you need other assistance (food, medicines, etc.), you may also call the Vernon Police Department at 973-764-6155.
  • The Club’s maintenance activity continues, but is limited to seasonal preparations.

Recognizing the widespread disruption experienced by our members in this crisis, an examination was undertaken as to what steps are possible, now, to allay any financial concerns members may have regarding their obligations to the Club.

The following is a summary of the changes approved by the Voting Board on March 23, 2020:

  • monthly late payment charges for those who currently are not eligible for the Late Payment Charge Grace Period are suspended for the three months April, May, June.
  • for those currently qualified for the Grace Period, monthly late payment charges for the period March – May are already suspended. These members will receive an additional month to pay their balance – through June 30.
  • members who carried a balance into this calendar year (owe more than 2020 charges) are excluded from the suspension.
  • the suspension of late charges for three months is extended to lot owners.
  • monthly late payment charges on all balances resume July 1.
  • seniors and the permanently disabled receive an additional two months to apply for the discount, and an additional month before the discount is forfeited.

More details are available on the Club’s website – https://hlcc.org/2020/03/voting-board-suspends-monthly-late-payment-charges-extends-filing-deadline-for-senior-citizen-permanently-disabled-discount/.

The Voting Board will continue to meet its obligations as the Club remains in limited operation during this constantly evolving situation. You can continue to look to the Club’s website and the Newsette for news and updates, and I will try to reach out as often as I can to let you know any material changes. Let’s all work together during this great time of need, and try to take care of one another.

Considering everyone’s well-being while we’re thinking about our own makes the physical and emotional hardships of the moment easier to endure. These struggles, and our love of Highland Lakes, are what bind our fates together now—let’s get through this as a community, remaining as kind and understanding as we possibly can be toward one another. Some day hopefully not too far off in the future we’ll gather together to remember how awful this experience was, and to celebrate how fortunate we are to have made it through… together.

October 5, 2019
I’m honored and excited to have taken office as President of our community’s Voting Board. Following in the footsteps of Sue Ross, my predecessor, I will do my best to stay focused and productive in collaborating with the entire Voting Board to get the important business of Highland Lakes done, and to share ideas and info with you along the way.

You can expect high-level updates from me about important developments here in the Highland Lakes Newsette as well as on our website (www.hlcc.org). But to stay on top of detailed discussions and decisions being considered and worked on by the Voting Board, you should  attend Voting Board workshops and meetings (you can confirm each month’s scheduled meeting dates on the website calendar).

I’ve served on the Voting Board for many years in various capacities, and worked with lots of different Officers, Trustees and other volunteers along the way. I’ve learned that everyone who participates on the board, committees or in clubs has a personal reason for doing so. As a result, volunteers don’t always share the same perspectives or motivations. But most of the time philosophical friction helps us arrive at new ways to do things, and drives us toward better results.

Another thing I’ve learned while on the Voting Board is that communities either evolve or wither. The history of Highland Lakes documents the significant developments that have enabled our community to grow and thrive, but we should never be satisfied that our work is done, or stop challenging the status quo. From my perspective, it gets harder to grow when we refuse to consider new ideas and are reluctant to set higher expectations.

One of the best ways to ensure that we grow is to proactively solicit and nurture participation from new volunteers in our governance and our activities. Volunteers are our community’s lifeblood, and we need to figure out ways to encourage members who may not have volunteered before or are relatively new to the community to step forward, share their ideas, and get involved. The shortest path between two points may be a straight line, but when that path develops ruts sometimes you make road repairs… and other times you need to pave a new path forward.

Ultimately, my aim as President is to safeguard those things that make Highland Lakes the wonderful place it is, and to figure out new ways to make it even better. With that in mind, please reach out to me, any other Officer of the Voting Board, or your Section Trustee, with your ideas. They won’t all be winners, but if you keep your comments constructive and civil the least you can expect from us is our appreciation and consideration.

I hope you enjoy early fall in our community… the vibrant colors around every turn are a reminder to me that we have a lot to be thankful for here in Highland Lakes, and that change is part of the natural cycle.


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