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Letters to the Editor

Opposition to Swim Team Expansion

I am a 15-year resident of Westchase. I read an article in the last WOW about the swim team’s expansion, and would like to voice my opposition to it.

I like that Westchase offers sports programs for children. My oldest son participated in the tennis program for eight years; my youngest son played soccer in the Westchase soccer league. At the time my son was in the tennis program, a rule existed that the program could use all the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center (WSTC) courts but two courts remained available for residents wanting to use them. The same rule was used for swim program.  Now the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center’s pool is closed to residents during swim team practice time, Monday through Friday from 3:45-7 p.m.

The swim coach now wants to expand the program to the West Park Village pool in addition to the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center pool and use four of its lanes during the swim team practice hours. This means both Westchase pools will be utilized by the swim team Monday through Friday from 4-7 p.m.

I oppose the expansion of the swim team to the West Park Village pool for two main reasons. First, it will limit swim access to the pool for residents. Second, it will increase traffic and noise in West Park Village. Parley Drive is very narrow residential street that cannot handle increased traffic due the swim team’s presence. The traffic will endanger kids who are living nearby and making their way to Baybridge Park.

I also propose re-opening Westchase Swim and Tennis Center pool to the residents during swim team practice times. The swim team’s expansion will be on the Thursday, April 13, 2017 agenda of the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board. The meeting will be held at the Parley Drive office building at 7 p.m.  I ask everybody to attend and voice their opinion. If you cannot attend, please send emails to WCA Board members.

I also ask the WCA Board to make public resident versus non-resident swim team participation numbers. I think it is unfair for non-residents and a certain interest group to take precedence above and at expense of our residents and neighborhood’s quality of life.

Svetlana Marinskaya, West Park Village

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Letters to the Editor: School Crowding, Incentives and Golf Course

School Crowding

As a retired high school principal from northern Ohio who has recently moved to Westchase, I read Joey Johnston's article on overcrowding at Alonso High School with interest. While there is no ideal solution to this problem, I was mildly surprised that the one solution that, to me, seems most palatable did not appear to be on the table. Knowing that the building of high schools is the most expensive of all school construction, it seems that one solution would be to build another middle school and change the grade level arrangement to make Alonso High a school for Grades 10-12. That would make the middle schools be for either Grades 7-9 or Grades 6-9. The new middle school would allow for this without overcrowding.

Dennis Blackburn, West Park Village

Poopy Publisher’s Column

The letter below was sent in response to July’s publisher’s column, which passed on Westchase Voting Members’ request that residents pick up pet waste and another resident’s request that parents not illegally use handicapped parking spaces at Westchase Elementary.

Yes, the title grabbed me. I believe most folks mean well and want to do what's right and set a good example. But here's the thing. Behavior that isn't rewarded can fall by the wayside, especially when a person is stressed and/or thinks no one is looking.

One of my suggestions for the community sometime back was to create a different kind of "program" where there was the possibility of reward for doing good. The concept was used in the Fairfax, VA elementary school my daughter attended. Along with general informational PA system announcements, there was periodically an announcement from The Roving Eye. Every individual acted as the Eye and could submit the name of anyone they saw doing something right. The prize was having the whole school know that you were caught doing right! When my daughter was selected for picking up a piece of paper she saw on the floor, she was so proud of herself. From bumper stickers I've seen that other schools also have some acknowledgment of good citizenship.

We know that attention and a variable schedule of reinforcement can be powerful. I feel certain that with all the creative minds in Westchase, that something, or things could be developed. Perhaps instead of a random drawing for a fake ad, there could be a drawing for a resident caught picking up his pooch’s poop? Might this same concept possibly improve the behavior of some rowdy teens or preteens?

It may be a silly idea on my part. It certainly won't change the ignorant and brash. However, since the VMs spent some time discussing the big impact of such "small" behaviors, maybe it's time to go farther than dialogue and create something that encourages the type of behaviors we’d like Westchasers to demonstrate.

Bobbie Muir, The Greens

Subpar Golf Course?

As an avid golfer I often associate a community with a golf course. If someone were to ask about Avila I would describe the lush grounds, wonderfully kept fast greens and gorgeous clubhouse. If someone were to ask about Carrollwood, I would describe the well-kept practice range/greens, the beautiful tree-lined fairways, and fantastically manicured fairways and bunkers.

Unfortunately, if someone were to ask me about Westchase, it would start with the golf course parking lot that has more cracks and crevices than California’s volcanic ridges. When you get to the clubhouse, you will see a small pro shop with outdated clubs and a tube television that can’t be more than 14-inches wide. The next step is the poor practice facility with weeds growing on the chipping green and a driving range filled with balls that are cut up and deformed. It actually gets worse when you make it to the golf course and are stuck playing on uneven, weed-laden tee boxes, dirt-ridden hills, sand traps that are so hard and lacking sand that they resemble white clay, tree branches that overhang the cart path so badly that you can’t actually drive on the path, and greens so thick and slow that you can’t tell where the green separates itself from the fringe or even the fairway!

This is a shame because I remember how prominent and well respected our neighborhood’s golf course was when I worked at the course from 2001-2003 back in high school.

Fast forward to 2016 and I do not know anyone local that would pay $50+ to play Westchase golf course. Not with Northdale, Heritage Harbor, The Eagles and Wentworth having a better manicured golf course and cheaper prices. I believe Westchase attempts to get golfers on the course by targeting tournaments, gimmicky events, and out of town golfers, which is a short-term fix and not one that upholds integrity.

I am worried that the worsening state of our golf course is going to cause others to look down on Westchase and choose other communities to shop, eat/drink, and even live. With a community as beautiful as ours, the last thing we want is to be thought of as a community with a subpar golf course (pun intended).

Shane Burda, West Park Village

WOW forwarded Mr. Burda’s e-mail to Clay Thomas, Manager of the Westchase Golf Course, and invited him to respond. WOW also mentioned to Mr. Thomas concerns raised at recent Community Development District (CDD) meetings regarding the maintenance of untrimmed grass and weeds along the Linebaugh curbs fronting the golf course property. Mr. Thomas sent WOW the following response.

Golf Course Responds

I will happily address Shane’s concerns with the WOW readers. There are a few valid points but several are issues of timing with conditions of one course to another, such as the timing of aerification. For instance, we aerify our greens much later than many other courses. If you were to play our golf course now and compare it to many other courses, we would not compare favorably whereas the conditions of Westchase in early May would have outshone many of those same courses. Not sure where he’s coming from with the pro-shop comments. I’d proudly put up our pro shop and whole clubhouse for that matter against just about any in the area. There are few shops in the area that are bigger or better stocked than ours. Innisbrook, Avila, Carrollwood and Old Memorial’s shops, just to name a few, are all smaller than ours. What equipment we have is the very-latest, top-of-the-line Titleist gear.

We have been dealing with many general maintenance issues stemming from the 31 inches of rainfall last August. We have almost completely come out of all of the lingering issues of that…the same issues that caused Old Memorial only a few miles away to lose the greens that they had just last summer spent over $1,000,000 renovating. Rocky Point also lost its brand new greens into which the city had just invested several hundred thousand dollars over the summer.

With regard to the curbs, we do need to get that straightened away. It is a battle with the CDD over who is responsible for what. Areas that since the beginning were maintained by the CDD seem to get dropped with each new CDD maintenance agreement. I’ll get together with Doug [Mays, the CDD Field Manager] to discuss.

Again, these are all things that I am happy to address. The last thing that I want is for anyone to get the impression that we are not investing in the property because that is simply not the case. Our 2016 maintenance budget is higher than any of the last ten years.

Clay Thomas, Westchase Golf Course Manager

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Letters to the Editor: Park Shade and Pool Age Limits

MOMS Club Reacts to CDD Meeting

In response to an article published online on June 11 regarding the topics discussed at the CDD meeting held on June 7, the MOMS Club of Westchase would like to express our disappointment for the sarcasm and lack of professionalism received by the CDD supervisors regarding the request for more shade at Baybridge Park.

We are very grateful and appreciative for the renovations and improvements recently made to the park. However, a design flaw has created the problem of some of the equipment becoming too hot, causing injuries to the children who use them. The large play structure, ride-on toys, and climbing wall have no shade over them, causing these items to get extremely hot in the sun. After a few unfortunate experiences, several members of the MOMS Club wrote to the CDD supervisors, asking if there would be a possibility of fixing this. After no responses had been received, we collectively decided to begin a petition, to act as a request on behalf of our members in lieu of multiple emails.

Through word of mouth, the petition was shared and willingly signed by other members of the Westchase community who were also concerned about the issue. What was meant to receive 50 signatures at the most ended up receiving 250 signatures from Westchase residents. This petition was emailed to all five supervisors of the CDD on May 21 from the president of the MOMS Club, along with an email expressing both gratitude and concern. As of the date of this letter (June 12), she has sent a total of three emails without one single response from any of the supervisors.

Supervisors’ comments at the June 7 meeting addressed the petition with negativity and ridicule. I’m sure our members, as well as other residents, would have been happy to attend the meeting, had emails been acknowledged and had we been told that would be the next step to take.

To the supervisors of the CDD: Perhaps if emails were returned and recognized, then a 250 signature petition wouldn’t be necessary to get your attention. On behalf of our members and the residents who signed their names, we would appreciate a more caring approach for this and for any future community concerns.

And to Supervisor Ragusa: Allow us to address one of your concerns:

No, we are not going to ask you to air condition the park.

The MOMS Club of Westchase

Pool Age Restrictions Decried

Westchase usually does things right.

But not in the case of the age restriction on members younger than 15 who want to use the community pools unaccompanied by an adult.

I for one think the age restriction is a joke, as are the Westchase Community Association board members who originally implemented it and those today that continue to uphold it.

As far as I can tell, the restriction was put in place because some unruly kids showed poor behavior at the pools. So what? I see some kids displaying poor behavior at the parks and playgrounds too. Yet there's no age restriction enforced in these areas.

Behavior at our community pools can easily be controlled with proper supervision by the lifeguards on duty, for goodness sake. Isn’t that what we pay them to do? It just baffles me how this restriction got put in place to begin with. Are we to assume that the age restriction was put in place to protect the lifeguards from having to dish out light disciple to middle schoolers and elementary age kids? I can’t imagine this would be an unpleasant duty for any self-respecting lifeguard with a whistle.

Westchase should do all it can to encourage usage at all its pools, and not discourage participation with this absurd rule.

Some of my best childhood memories were made during summers spent at my neighborhood pool. Growing up, my friends and I walked to our neighborhood pool unaccompanied by adults. We were 6, 7, and 8 years old. If we got out of line, then the lifeguards took care of it by blowing their whistles at us. Frequent offenders and non-listeners were “benched.” They were made to sit on a long wooded bench reserved solely for naughty kids. Typically, the time out on the bench was for five or ten minutes, depending on the severity of offense and mood of the lifeguard. Yet it didn’t really matter how long the duration was, because if only for a minute, the shame of sitting on the bench proved to be an effective tool for correcting poor behavior. You didn’t want to be seen sitting on the bench.

The bottom line here is the current rule stinks. Remove the age restriction altogether. Give the lifeguards more authority.

Encourage everyone in our community to use the pools.

Casey Wilkening, The Bridges

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Short CDD Meeting Tackles Survey Points and Food Truck Rally

February’s meeting of the Westchase CDD reinforced the district’s historic position of declining any use of Westchase park land that primarily benefits commercial interests.

Gathering on Tuesday, Feb. 3, supervisors of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) cleaned up their financial books by addressing unallocated expenses related to the installation of new survey datum points in recently repaved roads in Stonebridge, The Greens and Harbor Links/The Estates. The points are used to shoot surveys of property lines. Supervisors voted unanimously to allocate $2,500 in Stonebridge funds for the work there. The board will address costs related to The Greens and Harbor Links/The Estates when work is completed there at an estimated $70 per hour.

The CDD maintains West Park’s alleys and roads within gated neighborhoods and homeowners pay additional CDD assessments for their costs.

With supervisors’ recent finalization of the contract for their parks improvement plan, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick suggested the board ask Stantec, which won the contract, to make recommendations for enhanced signage delineating park rules. Supervisors asked CDD Office Administrator Sonny Whyte to highlight needed rules for McCormick’s review.

Supervisors also passed a clarifying motion stipulating that the newly approved Greens gatehouse contract with Securitas, establishing an 80-cents-per-hour increase to cover mandated health insurance coverage for employees, be made retroactive to Jan. 1. Supervisors voted 4-1 for the motion, with Supervisor Brian Ross opposed. Ross stated that during the passage of the original contract requested by Securitas he had made a mental note that Securitas had not specified a retroactive Jan. 1 start date. District Manager Andy Mendenhall, however, stated that Securitas’ original written request had indicated the date.

Supervisors spent the balance of their 35-minute meeting addressing a request by Greens resident Gabriel Arrillaga Pedrosa to hold a food truck rally in conjunction with the WCA’s Movie in the Park on March 13 at the Montague Street green. Arrillaga Pedrosa stated that a portion of the funds would benefit the USF Boricua Students Association’s efforts to raise funds for Bulls for Kids, which does fundraising for All Children’s Hospital.

Under the proposed plan, the trucks would pull up to the curb and serve food onto the park land between the sidewalk and street.

Supervisors took no action on the request, however. They stated that while a portion of funds from food truck sales would benefit a charity, most would go to the for-profit food trucks, violating the district’s policy of not using park lands for for-profit activities. Westchase Community Association (WCA) Director Kathy Carlsen, however, stated that similar activity was occurring already, with hot dog vendors pulling up on the road alongside the park during movie nights. She also pointed out that ice cream trucks were frequent visitors to Baybridge and Glencliff Parks. CDD Chair Mark Ragusa, however, stated that the district’s off-duty deputy patrol would be reminded of the district’s policy and would enforce any encountered violations. Arrillaga Pedrosa was encouraged, however, to explore closing down the Brompton Drive road in front of the West Park Village leasing office to allow the trucks to serve items directly onto the publicly owned road.

Closing discussion, Chair Ragusa passed on a commendation from residents for CDD Field Manager Doug Mays. Ragusa also asked staff to address illegal parking on Countryway Boulevard’s right of way adjacent to Glencliff Park’s party pavilions. He stated he had recently encountered a large pickup truck parked a third of the way onto the road during a party there.

Supervisors adjourned at 4:35 p.m. The CDD holds it meetings on the first Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m. at the WCA office building on Parley Drive. Residents are welcome to attend.

By Christopher Barrett, Publisher


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Letters to the Editor, June 2014

Over-Extended Authority?

I object to the wording of the proposed amendment to Article IV, Section 2 of the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs), which Westchase Voting Members will consider at their June 10 meeting. (The proposed amendments ran in April’s and May’s WOW and were mailed to residents in April). It states, “In an emergency situation, the Association may go onto the Owner’s Unit without notice to correct the problem.”

The rationale for my opposition is that there is no situation that would warrant the management or board to enter onto my property without giving me prior notification and without seeking my consent. The right to respond to an emergency without consent is reserved by proper authority, which in this case is Hillsborough County Emergency Services (fire/rescue and sheriff).

All other issues fall into the category of non-emergency situations and require the Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board to do its due diligence and make every reasonable attempt to contact a homeowner to correct the situation. Numerous people agreed at the Westchase Voting Members (VMs) meeting it would take days for the board to respond to an emergency so there would not be any situation that is an "emergency," requiring the board to enter onto my property. It was my understanding that this amendment was changed to give the association greater latitude in fixing issues with abandoned properties. If so, the wording should be reflected in the CCRs and not so loosely defined as to give enormous power to a non-government entity to enter on a homeowner's property without their notification or their consent.

So the pertinent questions are: Why does the HOA need to be involved in "emergency" situations when that is the responsibility of the county emergency services with legal authority? If they accept that they are never going to respond to emergency situations as defined above, then why do they need to use the term "emergency" in the amendment? The proposed wording in the amendment gives wide berth to the HOA to operate. Bottom line: If there is a true emergency, which is usually defined as "life or limb," then county emergency services should be called. All other situations can wait until the HOA contacts the homeowner to fix the issue.

Dave Horwitz, The Bridges

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Letters from Our Readers, February 2013

Coach Allen’s Mom Says Thanks

Thank you to all the parents and swimmers for your prayers, cards and generosity. I enjoyed all the Kelley stories you shared. Kelley also gave me "free advice," such as when I told him the Orlando Y had ordered new blocks. He asked, "How old are you, Mom?"

When I responded, "72," he said, "I would advise against changing your start on those new blocks."

Now I'll have to do it just to show him. I think he forgot who taught him how to swim. Kelley's dad and I were both lifeguards and swimming instructors, so his love of the water started when he was a toddler.

I also thank Brenda Bennett for the very nice article about my son. I'll be looking in the newspapers’ sports section for the names of "his kids."

Jean Allen,
Coach Kelley's Mom Forever

Save the Volleyball Court

I read in January’s WOW that the Westchase Community Association (WCA) is taking out the beach volleyball court at the Swim and Tennis Center because it’s “infrequently used.”

I know for a fact that the sand volleyball court is actually used frequently. All my friends and I are volleyball players. It’s the only place we’re able to practice. The Long Center (where we have club practice) has a volleyball net, but you have to have a Long Center membership. Some of us do not have the money for membership or the time to drive 45 minutes every time we want to practice volleyball.

The beach volleyball court is within walking distance. While you could say we should get our own net, some don't have the money to buy one. Whenever I go over to the beach volleyball courts, I usually see other people playing there too. Most of Westchase teenagers play there and teams practice there for tournaments.

If you want a petition to keep the volleyball court, I could get one with however many people you want to sign it. While the WCA is planning to put in two smaller kids’ tennis courts, I see almost no people at the tennis courts on a regular basis and I live right across the street.

I speak for all Westchase teens/kids when I say that we shouldn't get rid of the sand volleyball courts.

Maggie McKee, 14
Berkeley Square


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Golf Carts and Morning Show Magic

Illegal Golf Cart Use

I have long been troubled by the staff of West Park Village Apartments routinely operating golf carts on the streets of West Park Village. These golf carts are used to transport prospective renters to view apartments and by maintenance personnel conducting maintenance on their apartments throughout the neighborhood.

Per Florida Statute 316.212, the operation of a golf cart upon the public roads or streets of this state is prohibited, except when operated on a street designated by the county for use by golf carts and with signs posted indicating such operation is allowed.

I have found no evidence that Hillsborough County has authorized golf cart operation on the public streets of West Park Village nor are there any such signs posted. The statute provides other exceptions such as in retirement communities, in mobile home parks, state parks. None of these, however, seem apply to West Park Village.

Gary Konopka, The Greens

WOW Thanked for TV Studio Equipment

The students at Alonso have really benefited from all the support WOW has given to us. The entire school watches the morning show every day and they love it. In addition, the kids producing the show are getting some fantastic experience using the latest digital video production equipment.

The kids made a video thank you and also wanted me to pass along a sample morning show. Simply log on to to view it. If you visit our new homepage, you w,ill also see a link on top and on the right for the morning show. There you will find our archived shows – which your donation made possible – uploaded to watch online.

None of this would be possible without your support so thanks again from all of us!

Steve Fisher, Alonso Technology Resource Teacher

WOW welcomes letters to the editor on all issues. Letters should be no more than 500 words; may be edited for grammar, brevity and clarity; and should include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification. Letters may be submitted via e-mail to or mailed to 12157 W. Linebaugh Ave., PMB #224, Tampa, FL 33626.


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Letters to the Editor, March 2012: Soccer Parking and WOW Thanks

WSA Worried About Loss of Park

As a volunteer who has been serving the community by organizing the Westchase Soccer Association’s (WSA) programs for the past 12 years, I am very disheartened by what transpired at the March CDD meeting.

The CDD put WSA on notice that if it cannot resolve the overflow parking issue in the Glencliff neighborhood during its soccer season, WSA may lose access to Glencliff Park. I feel that WSA became “collateral damage” in a fight against soccer shade structures that were planned for Glencliff Park. WSA did not request these structures! WSA’s program ended in November and WSA is not contributing to the current problems the Glencliff residents are experiencing on Saturdays and Sundays during our off season.

Some CDD supervisors, however, expressed that they are not in favor of WSA’s use of Glencliff Park to run its programs. With no suitable field space available near the community, it would be a huge disappointment to families and a disservice to the community if WSA loses access to Glencliff Park.

WSA will continue to make every effort to manage the overflow parking issue during its season, with support from the volunteer coaches and hundreds of families who enjoy WSA’s existence in the community.

Margot Pinheiro, The Fords

Thanks for Donation

I want to thank you so much for your donation to The Amazing Race for Life. Your donation helped pay for the participants’ T-shirts and helped make our event a huge success. Together we raised $4,755 for The American Cancer Society. That was my biggest year yet. I cannot thank you enough for your support! We couldn't have done it without you.

Thanks again.

Brett Steinfeld, Stamford

Letters Policy

WOW welcomes letters to the editor on all issues. Letters should be no more than 500 words; may be edited for grammar, brevity and clarity; and should include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification. Letters may be submitted via e-mail to or mailed to 12157 W. Linebaugh Ave., PMB #224, Tampa, FL 33626.


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