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News OVERVIEW FOR Thursday, March 05, 2015

Your Westchase Home: A Strong Community Produces Rising Prices

Andrew, Emily and Cooper Barrows of The Bridges

Despite the last decade’s roller coaster ride of Westchase home prices, one truth has remained unchanged. From its beautiful appearance and well-kept amenities to its strong schools and remarkable strength of community, Westchase is loved by its residents and especially its newcomers. Marking one of the earliest arrivals of the year, Andrew and Emily Barrows moved into The Bridges in January 2014. “My wife and I found out we were going to have our first baby and we knew then that we needed to find a home for our growing family,” explained Andrew. “What initially attracted us to Westchase were the family friendly neighborhoods, walkable restaurants and parks and proximity to family and friends. We also looked for homes in South Tampa and Safety Harbor. After looking, we ultimately decided to buy in Westchase because we knew it would be a great place to raise our family.”

UTB Library Community Room Named for Kingsford Resident Maureen Gauzza

Maureen Gauzza, center, is flanked by her husband, Charlie, her daughter, Sharon Potts, and her grandchildren Jared, Justin and Julia.

When Maureen Gauzza moved to Westchase in 1998, she couldn’t believe there was no library in the area. Fortunately for local bibliophiles, the Fords resident was not one to accept the library-less landscape. She made it her mission to change the situation. She formed an Upper Tampa Bay (UTB) Friends of the Library group, which spent years lobbying, calling, and writing to Hillsborough County asking them to build a library in Westchase.

Westchase Bobcats: Fact or Fiction?

A bobcat visits Keswick Forest.

Have you ever asked yourself, “Is that a bobcat in my backyard?” There’s a very good chance the answer is yes.

Westchase CDD Supervisor Brian Zeigler Resigns

Former CDD Supervisor Brian Zeigler

Former Bridges resident Brian Zeigler resigned his seat on the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) in an e-mail sent to District Manager Andrew Mendenhall late on Feb. 25. “It is with regret that I have to announce my resignation from the CDD Board effective immediately,” he wrote, “as I have sold my home and now reside just outside of the Westchase area.”

Panini’s Bar and Grill: Now Overstuffing Westchasers

In late January Panini’s Bar and Grill opened at 12227 W. Linebaugh Ave. in the space vacated last summer by Stone Chase Grill. According to Panini’s manager, Michael Casey, the restaurant has undergone significant changes. “We have completely renovated the restaurant from top to bottom."

Alonso FFA Students to Compete in Florida State Fair

Every February more than 500,000 people from across the state flock to Tampa to attend the Florida State Fair. Many are drawn to the carnival-like atmosphere of the Midway. Others come for quirky, edible concoctions like pizza on a stick and bacon-flavored ice cream. But the heart of the state fair lies in its original mission: to celebrate our state’s rich and varied agricultural history.

Shires Annual Ladies Ornament Party and 2015 Bunko Update

The best way to start the holiday season is with friends and good cheer. Angela and Dan Johnson graciously hosted the Annual Shires Ladies Ornament Exchange Party, which brought about 23 neighborhood women together. We shared good food, wine, and festivities.

Westchase Resident Makes Hollywood Debut on Undercover Boss

Greens resident Marianne Banales and Rocket Fizz President Rob Powells, who surprised her.

It’s said everyone enjoys 15 minutes of fame sometime in her life. Greens resident Marianne Banales recently experienced hers when she unwittingly became a contestant on the CBS-based reality show Undercover Boss. The Emmy-award winning series follows high-level corporate executives as they go undercover within their own company to see what is and isn’t working.

Two Seats Open for WOW Board of Directors

If you want to volunteer to serve Westchase and play a role in making WOW the best magazine around, read on. Two seats on the World of Westchase, Inc. (WOW) Board of Directors will be open for appointment in March. The seats of current WOW, Inc. Directors Jonathan Stein and Teresa Trubilla are up for appointment.

Crowd Funding a Future Music Teacher’s Dream

Kingsford’s Jonathan Sims

A young Kingsford resident who has defied the odds is now closer to fulfilling a dream – thanks to crowd funding and the power of social media. Jonathan Sims, 17, a senior in Robinson High School’s IB program has a dream. Yet, at the age of four, the odds were starkly stacked against him. His story begins with addiction and abuse, then takes a turn toward miraculous.

Perfect Park Pastimes for February Fun

Brooker Creek Preserve

February is the perfect time in Florida to explore the great outdoors. With so many parks close to Westchase, it is easy to find one that you’ll enjoy. Lace up your tennis shoes, grab your bike or kayak (or, if you prefer a picnic, a basket and blanket) and enjoy our temperate weather before we’re all complaining it’s too hot again.

Bountiful Birds Winter in Westchase

Roseate Spoonbill

Florida is a bird lover’s paradise. And February is the perfect month to fly outside and enjoy our feathered friends. Not only is this a great time of year to appreciate the birds that live here year-round, it is also an ideal opportunity to catch a glimpse of the many birds visiting for winter.

Everly Hopkins, Westchase’s Beloved Miracle Baby, Dies

A month shy of her first birthday, Everly Hopkins of The Shires died on Children’s Hospital in Atlanta on Monday, Jan. 26, following heart surgery. Her parents, Crystal and Jimmy Hopkins, had traveled there in recent days for medical care and Crystal held Everly in her arms as she passed.

Newcomers Luncheon Feb. 19

The Newcomers of Northwest Hillsborough will gather for lunch this month on Feb. 19. They’ll meet at 11 a.m. at the Floridan Palace, 905 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, 33602.

Plan to Attend the Aug. 12 TED Meeting

Westchase residents are encouraged to attend a meeting of the Policy Leadership Group for Transportation and Economic Development in Hillsborough County (TED). It will be held on Aug. 12 at 1:30 p.m. in the second floor board room of the County Center.

Public Notice of Westchase-Wide Guideline Changes

In addition to offering changes to the Westchase CCRs and Bylaws, Westchase VMs are considering amendments to the Westchase’s Single Family Residential Guidelines. If you read this article last month, the Documents Committee submitted some changes to the proposed Guidelines after the May meeting of the Westchase Voting Members. Changes of substance are indicated by italics in the summaries below.

WCA Board Hears Costco Update; Decries WOW Coverage of Investment Properties

There was a packed audience for the February Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board of Directors’ meeting. Residents attended not to speak during the open residents’ forum, but to hear about the proposed Costco development at the corner of Sheldon Road and Linebaugh Avenue.

Costco Developer to File Rezoning Request March 6

While it was announced in January that February would see a formal presentation by the Costco development team, February’s WCA meetings came and went without its appearance.

Proposed 2014 WCA Budget Draft Contains $2 Assessment Increase

The 2014 draft budget that emerged from the roughly 90-minute Westchase Community Association (WCAO) Budget Workshop on Aug. 20 produced a projected assessment of $322. The amount represents a two dollar increase over the 2013 assessment. If adopted, it would be the first increase in the WCA assessment since 2008.

Westchase VMs Approve Three Guidelines

In a very brief meeting that preceded the Westchase Association’s Aug. 20 budget workshop, Westchase Voting Members (VMs) took their final votes on three amendment to Westchase and neighborhood-specific guidelines. In all cases, the 20 VMs present cast unanimous votes.

VMs Entertain New Paver Rules for Driveways and Sidewalks

The July 9 meeting of Westchase VMs started with two quick, unanimous approvals for Abbotsford's and Chelmsford’s new mailboxes before VMs turned to driveway pavers.

VMs Approve New Mailboxes for Castleford and Portions of The Bridges

At their June 11 meeting, Westchase Voting Members’ (VM) two main agenda items were final votes for updated mailboxes for Castleford and the Bridges. VMs also received an update on the county’s new garbage collection system, scheduled for rollout in October.

CDD’s 2014 Draft Budget Recoups Incorrect 2013 Credit

Westchase Community Development District (CDD) supervisors are discussing a tentative spending plan that projects a 7.62 percent increase in operations and maintenance spending. The plan, which may see adjustments at the CDD's July and August meetings, is slated for final approval on Aug. 6.

CDD Supervisors Approve Harbor Links’ Streetlight Conversion; Stonebridge Homeowners Voice Concerns

The June 4 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) saw resolution of a years-long process to address a Westchase neighborhood’s leaking gas lights and attendance by a number of Stonebridge residents concerned over nearby developments that could significantly impact them.

Memorial Services Scheduled For Westchase Swim Coach Kelley Allen

Westchase Community Association (WCA) Manager Debbie Sainz and Operations Manager Kelly Smith have released information about upcoming memorial services for Kelley Allen, the WCA’s Director of Competitive Swimming. Allen was tragically killed on Oct. 28.

Tales from the Black Friday Ninjas

Some Westchasers celebrate Thanksgiving night by pulling the covers over their heads and relishing their turkey-induced slumber. Others become Black Friday Ninjas. Millions of Americans choose to participate in the highly competitive consumer Olympics known as Black Friday, where average shoppers display the stealth and cunning of a ninja in order to bring home retail gold. These warriors head out in the dark of night risking a stray elbow to the eye or worse, a shopping-cart wheel to the freshly pedicured toe.

Public Notice of Residential Guideline Changes

At their Oct. 11 and Nov. 15 meetings, Westchase Voting Members (VMs) will be considering changes to the Westchase Residential Guidelines. The Westchase Residential Guidelines is a supplementary document to the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs). Both documents spell out architectural and use rules for Westchase residential properties.

Help a Wizard Make Magic

With just an hour of your time each week, you can dramatically change the life of a child who needs an adult role model. Westchase Elementary is looking for mentors for this school year. Can you lend a hand?

School Open Houses, 2011

Several private schools in the area are holding open houses to the community in the upcoming months. The list below is not a complete listing of all private schools in the area. Some of these institutions hold open houses in different locations; please contact the school admissions office for more information.

Westchase Birthday Celebration Oct. 29

This year Westchase turns 20 and you’re invited to the biggest birthday celebration around! On Saturday, Oct. 29, from 3-7 p.m., WOW is throwing a party to celebrate all that is great about our community. All residents are invited to join the fun on the West Park Green on Montague Street for a celebratory street party. The party will be held on the afternoon of the tenth anniversary running of The Great West Chase 5K and Children’s Fun Run.

Fitness Trail Opens This Month

The Westchase Community Association (WCA) and Community Development Districts (CDDs) are happy to announce the upcoming opening of the Fitness Trail in Baybridge Park.