The sale of Little Neck in Ipswich, MA to its cottage owners will forever be one of the watershed events in this town's long and storied history. Regardless of your position with respect to the sale, we should all take a moment to recognize that life on Little Neck for its residents will never be the same. Generations of families summered on that drumlin seemingly unaffected by the social or political issues of the day that swirled around the remainder of the town. Those families were not the cause of the town's budget crises of the last ten years but those issues propelled them into a public spotlight that I am sure they all look forward to dimming as the divisiveness recedes into the past.
I was fortunate to represent several cottage owners in their purchase whose families had owned their cottages for generations. The personal stories they recounted as I met with each of them helped me to appreciate the unique sense of community that embodied Little Neck more than if I had lived my whole life in Ipswich. Many of the buyers were not happy or even relieved to purchase their "condominiums." They were painfully aware that the fabric of their community had already been stretched by the legal proceedings of the last several years and perhaps torn forever. I imagine that many other purchasers that I did not meet are experiencing the same sense of apprehension.
The days of policing social behavior with a simple phone call to a neighbor or a discussion over a cup of coffee on the front porch will be threatened by a regime of rules and regulations foreign to those who grew up on Little Neck. Is your neighbor parking on the "Common Area" or your "Limited Common Area?" Now, you can call one of the Trustees or if you wish to be more impersonal, file a complaint with the soon to be hired management company. Is your neighbor's clothes line blocking your water views? Just report them to the condominium association. Matters as simple as nighttime lighting, taking in trash cans on a timely basis and mowing the grass are all regulated under the condominium rules that are now in force.
I, for one, hope that the terms "condominium," "rules and regulations", "common area" and "limited common area" remain as foreign to those lucky enough to enjoy living on Little Neck as they were just a few short months ago. Only time will tell. But, I am not optimistic. Land ownership typically triggers increased expectations of control, privacy and a sense that everyone must adhere to the same rules even when no one really suffers from slight variations or reasonable exceptions.
As I represented each buyer at closing, I, too, felt a sense of loss for the community that was known as "Little Neck" that is now formally named "The Condominiums at Little Neck." It's the end of an era and all Ipswich residents should recognize the loss.