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CDD Addresses Linebaugh Work Concerns With Hillsborough County

The Nov. 6 meeting of the Westchase Community District saw supervisors address their concerns about the Linebaugh construction site with Hillsborough County Public Works staff member George Cassidy.

Commissioner Sandra Murman’s Legislative Aide, Jeffrey Huggins, was also present.

Cassidy opened the meeting by addressing CDD supervisors’ worries about the eventual restoration of the Linebaugh medians. At October’s district meeting, supervisors voiced a lack of faith in the contractor’s performance, given the previously botched lane cut outs and the poor site preparation for Hurricane Irma.

Cassidy assured supervisors that the county had videotaped the entire worksite prior to groundbreaking last summer and that the Linebaugh medians would be restored to their proper condition when the project, aimed at replacing a leaking reclaimed water main, is complete.  “It is our standard practice to restore the location to the condition it was in or better,” said Cassidy.

Cassidy acknowledged that the contractor had recently damaged the district’s irrigation system. Field Manager Doug Mays’ written report to supervisors indicated that the project’s contractor, Westra, was balking at making repairs, estimated at least $35,000, at the company’s cost. Cassidy stated Westra, however, was already replacing broken components and hunting down a severed wire that operates a portion of the system. “We’ll pay for it to be repaired,” he said of the county.

Addressing supervisors' concerns that lane demarking barrels and even portable toilets were left behind and unsecured before Hurricane Irma’s landfall, Cassidy acknowledged the county was studying the matter to learn from its mistakes. Cassidy, however, insisted the barrels had to be kept in place to denote lane changes for driver safety immediately before and after the storm and that an additional weight was added to each barrel. WOW’s reporter, however, pressed the matter, stating that concrete barriers could have been used instead, posing less of a threat to homes along Linebaugh Avenue. WOW’s reporter also asked the county to address the fact that no one in the public utilities department or the commissioners’ offices could be reached to address residents’ concerns about the poor site preparation after the county shut down in anticipation of the storm.

Thanking Cassidy for coming to the meeting and addressing their concerns, Supervisor Brian Ross added, “There was frustration that the contractor wasn’t in lockstep with the county in terms of customer service.” Referring to the restoration, which will be done by Westra, Ross stated, “Because of the situation, I have some concerns about that.”

Cassidy reiterated that the county would, at its expense, make sure that the Linebaugh medians would be restored to their condition prior to construction even if the contractor’s standards for restoration differ from the county’s.

When Supervisor Matt Lewis inquired about the project’s progress and current timeline, Cassidy offered an update. “The project should be completed by the end of January or the beginning of February,” he said.

Glenfield resident Suzanne Pincus then addressed supervisors to inquire what the district could do to address the prolonged power outage homeowners experienced at the back of Keswick Forest, Bennington and Glenfield. That power grid is connected to the above-ground grid serving Twin Branch Acres and has always been more susceptible to outages than the underground Westchase power grid.

Addressing the matter, Westchase Community Association (WCA) President Ruben Collazo, present at the meeting, stated that Director Rick Goldstein, chair of the Government Affairs Committee (GAC), and he had plans to meet with a TECO representative in the near future to explore potential solutions. “We are having that conversation with them,” he assured Pincus.

CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte, a resident of The Fords, closed the conversation with Cassidy by asking if he would look into a resolution that would lift the current ban on a left turn into The Fords by eastbound Linebaugh traffic. Cassidy stated he would drive through the intersection upon leaving the meeting to see if he could come up with a solution.

Making her report, CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart stated that M/I Homes, developing a large townhome development across the lake from Stonebridge, had not yet responded to her inquiries about finalizing transfer of the lake ownership to the district. She also stated she was working with a paving company to update the district’s reserve schedule for repaving district roads, which, outside of West Park alleys, largely lie within gated neighborhoods.

When Supervisor Matt Lewis followed up on Supervisor Ross’ October request that Stewart offer a price for compiling an all-inclusive map of the district’s property and easements, Stewart said that her company’s IT department could put together a digital version that could also display past maintenance work when a specific lake or another entity is clicked. She stated the cost would roughly by $10,000 with an additional $2,000-3,000 for her to compile the past maintenance data. She committed to completing the data compilation by next month to enable supervisors to decide how they prefer to proceed.

Stewart closed by asking supervisors how they wished to address West Park Village residents’ complaints about truck damage to grass along their alleys. When asked by Supervisor Jim Mills how much land on either side of the paved alley the district owned, Field Supervisor Doug Mays stated the district owned about three to four feet on both sides. In recent months, supervisors asked a West Park Village HOA to remove PVC pipes they had erected behind a villa in the CDD owned strip along the alley. CDD Attorney Erin McCormick added that pipes and large rocks over four-inches in diameter could not be placed in the CDD owned areas without posing problems with liability. After discussion, including weighing whether the district should just repeatedly repair damaged sod, supervisors left Mays with the responsibility for coming up with an acceptable solution. Mays suggested he would probably put down earth-tone rock where damage was most common.

CDD Attorney Erin McCormick then told supervisors a real estate developer for an assisted living home approached her to inquire if the district would sell eight to nine acres of land at Westchase’s eastern entrance. CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart stated it was highly unlikely the developer left that much developable land at the entrance. Supervisors, however, made clear they were not interested in responding regardless of the land’s status.

Sitting in for District Manager Andy Mendenhall, Severn Trent’s Mark Vega followed up on supervisors’ desire to hold a future workshop. Supervisors ultimately approved a motion to hold a workshop to discuss landscaping improvements, including the possible hiring of a landscape architect to develop a master Westchase plan for improvements, on Monday, Dec. 4. That workshop will also tackle a discussion about parks. At workshops, supervisors can discuss items on the announced agenda but take no votes.

Addressing the proposed hiring of a landscape architect, Field Supervisor Doug Mays stated he could work with local garden nurseries, which often offer design services, and save the district the cost of hiring the designer. Mays circulated a tentative plan that estimated that all 60 of Westchase’s entrances could be redone for $1,500 to $2,000 each with plants that have historically worked within the community. Mays also suggested plans and schedules for the de-mossing of trees and crepe myrtles in the medians, as well as the maintenance schedules for hedge trimming and mulch replacement. He further suggested the district hire a professional tree crew one day every other week at $2,000 a day. They would handle large tree removal and undertake the professional trimming and de-mossing of street trees and other trees on the district’s lands. He added that another option would be to change the contract with Davey, the district’s landscaping contractor, so that Davey did not reduce staff over the winter months and instead completed the additional work.

“It’s a wonderful kick-start going toward the process I think the board is considering,” said Supervisor Ross of Mays’ recommendations. Supervisors thanked Mays for his input and asked him to attend the workshop on landscaping and parks on Dec. 4.

Mays then detailed issues he’s had with the rubber surface around the merry-go-round at Glencliff Park. Despite being only one year into its two-year warranty, its installer, Mays said, is refusing to honor the warranty and repair the worn and damage surface. Mays stated the subcontractor was insisting that it was excessive wear and tear due to the playground equipment. CDD Attorney Erin McCormick, however, stated that the district, rather than addressing the subcontractor that installed the surface, should demand the project contractor, Dynamo, honor the warranty. She committed to following up on the matter with Mays.

When Supervisor Ross asked if Supervisor Greg Chesney had any information to offer after Chesney was charged with contacting the owner of the Westchase Golf Club to inquire whether it is for sale, Chesney responded, “No.”

Supervisors then heard from West Park Village resident George Doster, who proposed building a fenced dog park on the Montague Street green between the new ping pong tables and the children’s playground, as part of his Eagle Scout project. Doster stated he could get labor and materials donated outside of fencing and a proposed shade structure, which he hoped the district would cover. Reaction was mixed, with Supervisors Ross and Mills stating that the WCA had investigated possible dog park areas with the county, which ultimately led to the building of one near the HART transfer station on Waters Avenue. Supervisors Greg Chesney and Barbara Griffith appeared more supportive.  Supervisor Chesney, however, committed to discussing Doster’s proposal at the Dec. 4 workshop. 

Supervisors adjourned at 6:07 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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