By Rich Pollack

For almost four decades, officers and managers of condos east of Federal Highway in Boca Raton and Highland Beach met regularly to share information and to listen to key speakers on topics that affect them all.
Now, with the collapse of Surfside’s 12-story Champlain Towers South in June still on the minds of many and with recertification regulations coming down the road in some communities, the Beach Condo Association of Boca Raton and Highland Beach is expanding to welcome representatives from condos in Delray Beach east of Federal Highway.
“Our organization is about community and this is about neighbors helping neighbors,” said Emily Gentile, the association’s president. “It’s about courtesy and kindness to our neighbors in Palm Beach County.”
The association meets for an hour and a half the third Tuesday of every month from October through April. It focuses on sharing information on topics that are common and of interest to most associations.
During past meetings, members have discussed a wide range of issues from crosswalks on State Road A1A to beach erosion and storm protection. They have shared ideas about security, maintenance and repairs and even staffing.
In addition, the association offers board certification classes and other continuing education classes that are useful to condominium leaders and managers.
“Meeting board members from other buildings is always helpful,” said Janet Friedman, a vice president on the board of Villa Costa, a 36-unit building in Highland Beach. “We always have a common problem or question and I can either get information or possibly give information to a fellow board member with something we at Villa Costa have faced in the past.”
Friedman says she goes to meetings to keep up with changes to relevant legislation on the state and local levels and to work with others on important issues.
“It is always good to collaborate with others that have the same interests,” she said.
Joanne Chester, president of the board of the 55-unit Mayfair of Boca Raton, agrees about the value of swapping ideas.
“Just hearing stories of what other buildings are doing is priceless information,” she said.
Now, Gentile says, there is a great focus on structural integrity and recertification of buildings, topics with lots to learn that can often be confusing.
“Recertification is an issue that requires a lot of education,” Gentile said. “We want our neighbors to know what we know.”
With that in mind, the Beach Condo Association in November held a Recertification Experts Panel meeting on Zoom featuring building officials, code enforcement officers, two structural engineers, an electrical engineer and structural contractors. Members had an opportunity to learn more about ordinances passed by Boca Raton and Highland Beach relating to recertification and to get an idea of how certification requirements will be rolled out.
Condo board members and managers also now have a better understanding of the structural and electrical issues facing buildings — especially those on the barrier island — and what inspectors will look for.
“We have a lot more to come,” Gentile said. “We’re pulling out all the stops to educate our members and give them all the information they need.”
Future meetings, she said, will include related topics including how the Champlain Towers collapse will impact insurance. The association also plans to hold a meeting focused on financial issues with banks and other institutions, discussing what options are available should condo associations need to finance major structural or electrical repairs.
Annual dues for the Beach Condo Association of Boca Raton and Highland Beach are $150 per building. Meetings are open to condo association officers and committee chairs as well as managers Meetings are hosted at different condominiums along the coast.

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