Monica Yant Kinney | Everybody out of the pool! It's not for the likes of you

Posted: July 15, 2007

The Pool Nazi is threatening to have us arrested. I'm not worried, but I wonder how Sophie Bahn will hold up behind bars.

She's 9 months old, she's teething, and she needs her naps.

Kate Bahn, Sophie's 25-year-old mom, is wearing pearls for our recon mission to the chlorinated oasis in Upper Roxborough.

We've pushed a stroller, and our luck, to ask why the old-timers at the Green Tree Run Condominiums won't let the newcomers at the adjacent Green Tree Summit Condominiums use the pool.

Kate, her husband and their daughter live in Summit. Their balcony faces the pool, adding to the misery.

On hot days, Sophie sometimes presses her chubby hands and face against the sliding-glass balcony door, whimpering at the water.

I saw it myself. Babies can't act.

What's a mother to do? Research what ruined the otherwise rustic setting off Shawmont Avenue.

The 212-unit Green Tree Run was built around 1975, followed by the 81-unit Green Tree Summit in 1989, according to a long-ago Inquirer real estate profile that gave no hint of bad blood.

Both developments are managed by the same company, and residents share a drive, but that's it.

Local lore has it that Run residents were furious when Summit was built and they still hold a grudge. In a sign of the strain, the woman overseeing the developments for Camco Management refused to talk to me.

"It's the Jets versus the Sharks," Kate says. "We have the newer condos, but they have the pool."

Make that three pools (indoor, outdoor, baby), a clubhouse, a gym, saunas, lockers, and a little lending library.

No way to be neighborly

A nice man leaving the clubhouse lets us in. He doesn't ask where we live. He's too busy cooing at Sophie.

Trouble looms straight ahead in a black bathing suit.

She says she has lived in Green Tree Run for 20 years and is on the condo association board, but she won't let me quote her by name. She once referred to herself as "the Pool Nazi" in a testy phone call with Kate, so I guess she likes it.

The Pool Nazi tells Kate, for the millionth time, that insurance policies, legal advice, liability concerns, and condo association rules make it impossible to be neighborly.

"It can't be done," she says.

Not that she'd even want to.

"Before, it was cornfields and vegetable gardens," she says, pointing derisively toward Kate's place in Summit. "Now, it's their air-conditioning units facing our pool."

"Wouldn't it be better to get along?" Kate asks, gently.

"We get along fine," the Pool Nazi says, coldly: "You just can't use our pool."

(Unless, of course, a Run resident invites her in as a guest.)

"All we want to do is be part of a community," Kate pleads on behalf of all the hot-and-bothered people at Green Tree Summit, including sweaty Sophie.

"Just stay on your side, and we'll stay on ours," suggests an older man drying off after a dip. "That's what fences are for."

Getting hot over cooling off

Kate tries a new tactic, suggesting that Run's higher condo fees would go down if Summit residents were invited to pay to play.

The Pool Nazi doesn't want Kate's money. More swimmers mean more problems: "There is no capacity."

At that moment, I note, there are exactly three people in the water.

The Pool Nazi is growing irritated with the interlopers.

"How did you get in here? We have security. We have cameras."

I spy neither, though it's possible the tan man chilling in a chaise longue could be a bouncer.

We leave before the cops are called, but after Sophie memorializes the occasion by spitting up.

I like this kid. She's got spunk.

So does her mother, who has gone door to door in both complexes in her quest to cool off.

So far, no good.

Last week, Kate and Sophie suffered the heat wave indoors, while rudeness ruled below at the pool.

"I'm so close," Kate says, "I can hear them talking about me."


Contact Monica Yant Kinney at myant@phillynews.com or 215-854-4670. Read her recent work at http://go.philly.com/yantkinney

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