Residents at Green Terrace condominiums are buying bottled water – again – after learning the city will turn off water to the West Palm Beach complex on Thursday because the condo board did not pay the water bill — despite a judge’s order to do so.
In court papers filed on Tuesday, board President Sandra Matus said the association does not have enough money to comply with the July 11 order of Circuit Judge Catherine Brunson, which directed the board to pay whatever it takes to keep water flowing at the 84-unit complex.
The city turned off the water on July 7 after unsuccessful efforts to collect part of the delinquent water bill. A day later the city turned the water back on after learning from The Palm Beach Post that residents had no warning the water would be shut off.
To help the board comply with the July 11 court order, the city agreed to keep the water on while the board made payments on the $25,500 bill. The city set up a payment plan but Green Terrace did not make the necessary payments, City Administrator Jeff Green said. On Wednesday, Matus paid $2,500 — not enough to keep the water flowing.
“The city is not the bad guy in this,” said Green, adding that the city’s Housing and Community Development Department is working with elderly and disabled residents to find alternative housing. “I think they’re just playing games with us.”
The water woes at Green Terrace are the latest salvo in a bitter lawsuit between the condo board, including one-time sober home owner Ken Bailynson, and residents who fear Bailynson, a CPA, is trying to take over the complex.
In September 2014, the FBI raided the complex on Georgia Avenue off Belvedere Road, then the location of Good Decisions Sober Living facility, owned by Bailynson. No charges have been filed. Bailynson shut down the business but continued to buy apartments.
Although the association has $291,601 in reserves, Matus said that money can’t be used to pay the water bill without a vote by unit owners. Matus – whose condo was a gift from Bailynson – said the board called an emergency meeting for July 13 so that unit owners could vote on whether to dip into its reserves to pay the water bill.
However, there were not enough owners present to take the vote, Matus said in court papers. Bailynson, who owns 44 of the 84 units at the complex, did not attend the meeting. Instead he sat in his car in the parking lot and did not vote, said Denise Medina, a resident who said she parked next to Bailynson.
William Pincus, attorney for the residents, has argued that the real reason the board doesn’t want to pay the water bill is so members can use the shutoff as leverage to dissolve a year-old legal injunction.
The injunction bars the board from raising assessments, performing construction and borrowing an additional $2.5 million from a company owned by Bailynson. The board already has taken out a $1.5 million loan from Bailynson’s company. That loan, with a 24 percent interest rate, requires the board to make monthly interest payments of $30,000.
A court hearing has been scheduled for Thursday morning. In the meantime, residents are stocking up on bottled water and making plans to bathe elsewhere.
“It’s ridiculous to have to go over to my parents’ house to take a shower,” said Medina, the mother of a 2-year-old and wife of a construction worker who “comes home dirty.”
“I’m going to do like I did before and buy water,” Medina said.