MARICOPA — Associated Asset Management has decided to terminate its homeowners association contract with The Villages at Rancho El Dorado after several members of the community board resigned.
It began when the HOA distributed a waiver to be read and signed by each resident in order for them to have their key fob activated for community amenities. According to Villages resident Heather Walter, one of the questions on the form asked if the resident had recently come into contact with “known COVID patients.”
“My husband and I signed the waiver, with the exception of one of the boxes we did not initial because it asks if we have been in contact with known COVID patients. Due to our profession, we could not honestly initial it,” Walter said.
The front office initially accepted their form and re-activated their key fobs. However, Walter says later that day she received a phone call, “stating due to our line of work our key cards were going to be deactivated.”
Other amenities were permanently closed off, including the community basketball hoops, which had boards secured over the hoops to prevent people from shooting.
On June 18, a community member entered the clubhouse to attend a meeting taking place. AAM employee Diane Zavala accused the community member of trying to film the meeting, and a physical altercation ensued. Police had to be called to resolve the situation. Other board members took to social media to defend their refusal to reactivate Walter’s key fob.
Board of Directors Chairman Tony Crisostomo penned a lengthy response to community “rumors” that included statistics about the frequency of COVID-19 transmission for health care workers.
Backlash on social media ensued, and a contentious board meeting Wednesday illustrated the community concerns.
On Thursday, an email sent out by the HOA stated that it would agree to eliminate the health screening form and would no longer require it for the reactivation of key cards.
“Effective today, you and your family may utilize the amenities at your own risk upon receipt of a signed Waiver and Release of Liability form,” the letter said.
The new form is an acknowledgement of COVID-19 exposure risk and releases the HOA from liability if the resident should contract COVID-19. The HOA also agreed to reopen the basketball courts with new signage.
In response to the ongoing backlash, multiple board members resigned, and AAM terminated its contract with the Villages entirely, both effective on July 31.
“The recent events that have transpired led us to make the difficult decision to discontinue our management partnership with VRED,” Amanda Shaw, AAM president, wrote in a letter to residents. “AAM cannot continue to be a partner in what now has become an adversarial and unsettling environment perpetuated by inaccurate accusations and embellishment.”
Community members are in uproar over AAM’s decision to cut ties with the Villages, and Peg Chapados expressed comments that were eventually put on Facebook.
“I have never been more disappointed in the HOA board as well as each individual board member than I am today. Last night’s meeting was disgraceful. Shame on all of you,” Chapados wrote. “We have gone from being voted the #1 community in Maricopa to the HOA that is being fired by the #1 Community Management company in Arizona.”
She said that the community will now have 21 business days to find a new management company and transition fully to keep its HOA in operation.
On Tuesday, the HOA board held a special meeting where members decided to open applications to join a committee that will work with prospective management companies to take over operations. Interested residents have until Monday at 9 a.m. to submit their application, and the board will hold another meeting at 5 p.m. that day to assign the top candidates to the committee.
Editor's note: This story originally misattributed a quote by Peg Chapados. It has been corrected.