June 2012

Chalk Another One Up To Miscommunication!! The Stapleton Chalk scandal

Chalk another one up to miscommunication!! The Stapleton Chalk Scandal.

Mark Twain said  "A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on." ...

Let me start off by clarifying 4 things. stapleton chalk scandal

1. Stapleton has a master homeowners association. With several sub associations

2. The Stapleton master association(MCA) does not have any rules against chalk use in the common areas. Sidewalk chalk has NOT been banned anywhere in Stapleton!

3. Not one sub-associations in Stapleton outlaw chalk but have processes in place to protect all homeowners rights in regards to shared spaces as all Homeowners associations do.

4. Stapleton is a welcoming community for ALL PEOPLE. With kids, without kids and for kids of all ages.

Now my blog may not reach the size of audience that may have heard these facts differently, but as a very active Stapletonite I wanted to put out to the world wide web those truths. What is hard to watch is how this story has taken on a life of it's own outside of the real story. We have all played the game operator. The game where you whisper something to the person next to you and then the next person tells the next the same story with a little change and by the time it comes around to the start you have a total different story.

I have several issues with how this story is playing out on what is now an international stage. As a committed and active homeowner(Vice President of Stapleton United Neighbhors) and resident of Stapleton, as a Realtor worrying about our home values and as an American citizen in this litigious society with sensationalist media and people always looking for Tom Martino to solve our problems.

Let me explain what happened and see how you would react.

Dear Homeowners:

Just a friendly reminder to please be sure to remove your personal belongings from the court yards at the end of every day. Items should not be left out over night.

Also, while the sidewalk artwork is beautiful, please do not allow children to draw on the common area sidewalks or in the courtyards.

Thank you everyone!

This email was sent by the management company, who was responding, in my opinion, lightly to the concerns of some of the other homeowners living in this sub-association community. This sub association is currently being sold and filled with homeowners. Approximately eight to ten owners share the courtyard and common space. this community has not developed any additional rules or regulations outside of what these people had already agreed to when they purchased these homes.

This email did not ban the use of chalk. In fact, a letter was sent to the members of this community encouraging people to color on their driveways and on any sidewalks in front of and adjacent to their homes. They simply asked that the entire courtyard(which is shared by 8-10 people) not be colored. This community also organized a community mediation meeting so that the issue could be discussed between its owners. It is those owners and their comments that would be considered if any additional rules were to ever be made. I understand that meeting is currently set up for next Tuesday. In the time frame in between the complaint to the time of setting up this meeting(2 weeks) This story has been covered by international and nationally syndicated news sources such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN as well as local coverage. All before any solution based discussion could be had. I am not saying that anyone on either side of the argument is wrong, I truly am not. But what I am trying to show is that there are proper ways to let things run its course and how things can be blown out of proportion, most of the time with unintended consequences.

Stapleton chalk scandalNow, we have a management company doing it's job, a nationally recognized builder, a nationally recognized community, an HOA board that hasn't even been established yet, and a family with an innocent 3 year old are all on the defense before any of them know what they are fighting for or against. We have a master association, neighborhood groups and a master developer slamming out rebuttal press releases. I really feel that after mediation and the process runs through the proper channel this situation will be resolved peacefully and without incident. But what is left in the aftermath? I am sure there won't be a correction article written in the New York Times or another race out here by Anderson Cooper to set the record straight. All that is left is a tarnished reputation of several unassociated parties and a bunch of misconceptions about the Stapleton Community.

People in the UK or Pittsburgh that may get a phone call tomorrow saying their job is transferred to Denver and they need a kid friendly place to move, will do a little research or remember that article they heard on the news about this ridiculous community in Denver that doesn't allow children. Builders in Stapleton will have to spend the first 10 minutes of their sales presentation countering what people thought they read about. Active volunteers in the community will be questioned about what they are doing about this outrageous situation.

Selling real estate, being involved in your community and even getting along with your neighbor are hard enough as it is without this kind of pressure. We need to be stewards of what we believe in but also of our surroundings. Knowing what can happen with a well intended public outcry and what it can do to property values and just the ability to get along with another. Politicians, Advertisers and the media all count on misinformation to help their causes. I hope as the great neighborhood that Stapleton is, we have enough community strength to both conquer this divisive chalk art situation and maybe chip away at the bigger problems of misinformation that plagues our society and getting along with others. 


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