B.F. from New Haven County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I have an unusual story, at least for here in Connecticut. In front of our condo building are two beautiful, decorative fountains. Every once in a while, a local prankster will put laundry detergent in the fountains and turn them into giant soap bubble machines. That’s annoying, but pretty easy to clean up. Last week, someone put a pet alligator in one of the fountains! We don’t know who did it but the community got stuck with an exotic animal removal bill of $2500! I think these fountains are more trouble than they are worth. So do several of my neighbors. What can we do to protect ourselves from having to pay for these pranks and keep ourselves safe from alligators?
Mister Condo replies:
B.F., finally a condo story with teeth! I don’t mean to make light of such a serious subject but an alligator in a community fountain at a Connecticut condo is a first, even for me. You didn’t say if the alligator bit anyone so I am assuming no one was injured in this incident.
Decorative accessories such as a fountain are part of the community’s common area. As such, there isn’t too much you can do about the actual fountain. Maintaining it and protecting it is tantamount to keeping curb appeal and property values at their best. That being said, if enough of your neighbors feel as you do that the cost outweighs the benefit, you might be able to have a vote on the removal of the fountain placed on the agenda of the annual meeting. It won’t be an easy task though. Not only Board members but also a significant number of your fellow condo owners will have to agree with you that the fountain needs to be removed.
A simpler solution might be to ask for security cameras to be installed so that the culprits of these pranks can be caught and arrested by local police. I am not an expert but releasing an exotic and dangerous animal like an alligator must have legal consequences. I hope you can find a happy ground where your community can still enjoy its fountain and not have to pay money every time it is tampered with. See you later, alligator!