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Bonding over a Movie Under the Stars

Co-ops, condos, and homeowners’ associations are all generically known as community associations. As a board member, dealing with the “association” part is somewhat clear-cut. We must create and enforce rules, we must create a budget, we must undertake repairs and maintain the property. The harder part, sometimes, is to create the needed sense of community.

The Yacht Club Condominium in Island Park, New York, is a 13-building, 128-unit townhouse condominium development situated on Reynolds Channel in southern Nassau County. It does not have a clubhouse, but it does have a pool that serves as the summer gathering place for many of the residents. There is also a fishing pier with benches set into a manicured landscape. We have consistently looked at other parts of the property for a way to further develop our sense of community.

We have a beautiful great lawn with spectacular water views of Long Beach and Reynolds Channel. This past spring, the great lawn was a source of dispute because we had installed a bocce court. Some residents objected to the cost and/or location of the court, while other residents were upset by the objections. The court was eventually removed, which pleased some residents and dismayed others. We wanted to find a way to use the great lawn for something that could be enjoyed by everyone – without any controversy.

We got our opportunity when we staged our third annual “movie night” there. After a sluggish response to the request for RSVPs (so much so that the board was on the verge of cancelling the event), we received a last-minute flurry of responses and the show was on. We set up a projector and screen, and got ready to serve up hot dogs and popcorn.

Our movie was The Greatest Showman, a musical inspired by the life of P.T. Barnum, starring Hugh Jackman. Barnum was a visionary who rose from nothing to create the “Greatest Show on Earth,” the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The film was chosen because the Yacht Club sits on that section of Island Park known as Barnum Isle. While historians say there was no relationship between P.T. Barnum and the Barnum for which the isle was named, local legend claims a familial relationship.

Residents who have decks with water views opened them to their friends for barbecues and dinners. The lawn filled up with blankets and picnics and children of all ages running around playing. It was a beautiful clear moonlit night. We were thrilled with the turnout.

All who attended enjoyed the show – as well as the company and camaraderie of their neighbors. They enjoyed the setting that is the “backyard” of the place they call home. No complaints were lodged by any unit-owners; no one objected to the expenditure. And the board was pleased and proud that the complex came together as a community for something as simple as an outdoor musical under a starry sky.

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