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CDD Addresses Park Trespassers and Draft Budget

At their May 6 meeting supervisors took a closer look at teen trespassing in Baybridge Park and their blueprint for spending in the upcoming fiscal year.

Addressing problems at Baybridge Park were nearby homeowners Scott Dudley and Lisette Falkner. “We have problems in the park,” stated Dudley, who added that issues with loitering teens beyond the park’s dusk closing hours have been ongoing for a year.

Dudley and Falkner detailed efforts to shoo the teens away, which have prompted the noisy youngsters to become threatening.

“Behind my fence in my backyard, they are lighting fires,” Dudley stated. “We’ve called the police,” he said. “We don’t know what to do.”

Falkner stated, “They’ll talk back to me. They’re very aggressive.”

Falkner added, “I think they are [Westchase] residents. “It’s getting to the point where it’s not a safe situation.”

The two stated the teens gather in the park late in the evening most weekends. Falkner stated the teens have been ringing her doorbell late at night, rifling through her vehicle and climbing atop the shade structures above the playground equipment.

Supervisors Greg Chesney and Brian Ziegler stated they too have come across a group of middle and high school students playing on the shade structures. Chesney added that when he insisted the kids get down, a few grew disrespectful and threatening. “Another kid was swinging a piece of [PVC] pipe at me,” he stated.

“Unfortunately,” observed CDD Chair Mark Ragusa, “that kid is going to swing a pipe at a resident who has a gun and that kid is going to get killed.”

Supervisors requested the residents call the police every time the teens are in the park past its dusk closing. “We’ll get with our off-duty deputy [patrol],” committed Field Supervisor Doug Mays, who stated he would ask the deputies to maximize enforcement, give trespass citations to the teens and arrest them if necessary.

Supervisors also took their first formal action in passing a budget for the new fiscal year, beginning in October. Each May supervisors pass an initial budget on which the Hillsborough Tax Collector bases county property tax trim notices, which are mailed to homeowners. Under budgeting rules, the district’s homeowners’ assessments may not exceed those in the trim notices. Thus, supervisors incorporate all possible projects within the initial draft to create a high water mark. They then historically scale back the budget as the projects undergo greater discussion and scrutiny.

CDD assessments are made up of as many as three components: the Westchase-wide Operations and Maintenance Assessment, which covers costs associated with maintenance of roadways, parks, ponds and conservation areas as well as the maintenance of the off-duty deputy patrol; CDD debt payments (currently made by homes east of and including The Greens and The Fords), which cover the original infrastructure construction costs of those neighborhoods; and neighborhood-specific assessments for roads, streetlights and rights of way in gated communities and West Park Village.

Based upon this initial draft, most Westchase homeowners would see a $100 increase in the Westchase-wide Operations and Maintenance Assessment. Supervisors placed adequate funds in the budget in preparation for a new landscaper contract. The bid preparation process for that contract, the district’s single largest monthly cost, is currently underway. In addition, supervisors are faced with bringing the playground equipment at Baybridge and Glencliff Parks into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Even the most conservative estimates for replacing the equipment have run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Supervisors may therefore elect to undertake a capital improvement project, borrowing funds which will then be repaid over three to five years. In anticipation of loan and project costs, supervisors agreed to place $400,000 into the trim budget as a placeholder. An additional $24,000 was added for the purchase of a sidewalk grinder and a four-wheeler to tow the district’s wood chipper. District staff also requested an increase of a few thousand dollars to cover additional street sweepings. Supervisor Bob Argus requested that $3,000 be budgeted for converting the existing fluorescent lights at the Westchase entrance monument on Countryway Boulevard/Hillsborough Avenue to brighter, more efficient LED lights.

Neighborhoods that may see additional changes to their neighborhood-specific assessments include Saville Rowe, Stonebridge and The Vineyards. The sub-associations of all three have requested that the district budget for cameras and an Internet connection to make transfer of video images possible. Budgeted amounts are $5,875 for Saville Rowe and $6,320 for The Vineyards and Stonebridge. After having their neighborhood-specific assessment zeroed out last year due to a surplus, Saville Rowe will also see their assessment return to cover its annual reserve and maintenance costs. Further, supervisors added an additional $10,000 to The Vineyards-specific fund for the running of electrical wires to its entrance monument in order to light its sign and adjacent landscaping.

Exceptions, however, exist for some gated neighborhoods like The Greens, which have additional CDD assessments related to road maintenance. With the expected resurfacing of Greens roads this year at a lower than projected cost, future road repaving estimates have dropped within its neighborhood-specific assessment, thus offsetting the increase in the Westchase-wide Operations and Maintenance Assessment.

Ultimately supervisors voted 4-0, with Supervisor Brian Ross absent, to pass the high-water-mark draft budget for county trim notices.

Closing discussion, Supervisor Argus produced a document showing a district easement along commercial property adjacent to Fifth-Third Bank. The property has commonly been used for pumpkin patches, Christmas tree sales and fireworks tents. In January the commercial use of the area was criticized as an eyesore by at least one supervisor. Argus suggested the area be considered for landscape plantings or even a wall to keep it from view of Linebaugh Avenue.

“You’re trying to get us into a spitting match,” said Supervisor Greg Chesney with a laugh. A vocal opponent of the use of the vacant parcel for sales, Chesney, who frequently speaks to the property owner, Alan Charon of Real Property Specialists, remarked to Argus while taking a copy of the document, “Thank you. This is awesome. I am going to keep this.”

In other actions:

Supervisors committed to exploring the installation of a stop sign at the exit to the parking lot of Glencliff Park at the request of Glencliff Voting Member Kathy Carlsen, who was present at the meeting.

Supervisors also briefly heard introductions from two companies, Hardeman-Kempton, a firm that designs parks, and Florida Playstructures and Water Features, a company that constructs park spaces. Invited but unable to attend was Recreational Design and Construction (RDC), which completed the district’s last capital improvement project. Unlike the other two firms, RDC is a design-build firm. As part of the park renovation, supervisors will have to decide which approach to take – hire a designer and then bid the designed project or create bid specifications for design-build firms that will undertake the entire project.

CDD Engineer Tonya Stewart brought the contracts for repaving gated roads in The Greens and Stonebridge to supervisors and informed them the bids had been changed so that the unit price for both neighborhoods matched the lower Greens unit price. She added, however, that the Greens account appeared to lack adequate funds for the $563,000 job. Accountant Alan Baldwin of Severn Trent, present for trim budget discussions, clarified, however, that there did appear to be adequate funds and supervisors voted 4-1, with Supervisor Greg Chesney opposed, to proceed with the new repaving bids. Chesney indicated a preference for delaying the project a year as he believed the roads did not yet require repaving. Supervisors also voted unanimously to authorize Stewart to expend necessary funds to replace the surveying contact points in the roads to facilitate landowner surveys.

In an effort to eliminate $7,000 in annual printing and reproduction costs for board packets and meeting materials, supervisors asked staff to return in June with a plan to purchase five computer tablets and cloud document storage space to enable electronic document distribution.

Supervisors voted 4-1, with Supervisor Brian Ross opposed, to pay horticultural firm OLM, Inc. $2,500 to update landscaping bid specifications and oversee the district’s upcoming bid of its landscape contract. Ross indicated his displeasure that the district was being charged for changes to the bid documents, which he stated should have been done over the course of the current contract. OLM grades the landscaper’s performance monthly and offers suggestions for improvement.

Supervisors voted 3-1 to approve the temporary installation of a banner advertising the May 17 Relay for Life at Alonso High School, which required a waiver of the district’s existing banner policy.

Citing a conflict, Supervisor Brian Ross departed the meeting at 5:36 p.m.

Supervisors adjourned at 6:59 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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