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CDD Addresses Street Flooding and West Park Village Alley Depression

The topics tackled of the July 10 meeting of the Westchase CDD seemed highly appropriate given that one of the most powerful thunderstorms of the summer raged throughout it.

After the 90-minute session, supervisors and staff of the Community Development District (CDD) found themselves scratching their heads in the parking lot, unable to depart due to widespread street flooding in West Park Village.

The abbreviated meeting, which supervisors elected to continue to 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 17, at the Westchase Community Association (WCA) offices on Parley Drive, largely addressed West Park Village flooding issues and damages caused to an alley and driveway by a damaged storm pipe.

Originally scheduled for the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center, the meeting was relocated to the Westchase Community Association (WCA) offices on Parley Drive to leave the swim and tennis center’s activity room available as a shelter from afternoon thunderstorms for the center’s summer campers.

Opening the meeting, supervisors immediately heard from CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart, who began a startling review by stating, “The good news is that nobody’s house flooded.”

Stewart went on to describe street flooding issues in West Park Village, Harbor Links and Glencliff during Tropical Storm Debbie and detailed the county’s extensive work aimed at ameliorating street flooding in West Park Village. In recent weeks, the county has spent an enormous amount of time and resources widening drainage canals just to the south of the neighborhood. Their work has also entailed sending cameras into the storm sewer system to determine if blockages are impeding the flow of storm water from roads. “We did find there’s a blockage in control structure 43 in Westchase Park Village,” Stewart stated. “The county followed up and found a remaining bulkhead in the outflow.”

The county’s work is ongoing and it’s not clear if extensive street flooding in parts of West Park Village, The Fords and The Bridges during the afternoon storm on July 10 is attributable to it.

Stewart then turned to damage caused to a West Park Village alley between Tate Lane and Montague Street. A nearly 10-foot wide hole, estimated at three to four feet deep, opened in the alley. West Park Village’s alleys are owned and maintained by the district.

A geotechnical study done on July 7 by Ardaman & Associates for Hillsborough County blamed the collapsing alley surface on a damaged, county-owned, 42-inch storm water pipe that runs north to south along the length of the alley. According to the report, county staff estimates that the damaged pipe lies 18 feet underground. The geotechnical study, completed by Ross McGillivray of Ardaman & Associates, blames the subsidence on a break in the pipe. McGillivray stated a soil study suggests that the pipe was incorrectly installed by the developer “with uncompacted fill placed along the pipe barrel, and compaction only done after the soil was several feet above the top of the pipe.”

McGillivray continued, “If the pipe settled because of poor installation, one or more joints could have opened up to allow erosion of the sand backfill into the pipe. This is consistent with the observations of the back-sloping pipe and the siltation of the pipe by the County.”

Because of heavy rains from Tropical Storm Debbie, the sandy, poorly compacted soils above the pipe finally washed into it, causing the depression and damage in the alley. Further complicating matters, the depression lies just below a major reclaimed water pipe that serves all of Westchase. Fearing that a lack of soil support would cause its rupture, Hillsborough County Water Department announced they are reducing pressure through the pipe until repairs are completed. Thus, during time periods of significant use, some portions of Westchase could see no reclaimed water pressure or service.

In addition to opening a wide hole in the alley, the depression has undermined a driveway belonging to an adjacent townhouse. Stewart stated, however, that the county was largely taking responsibility for fix – and its costs. “They’ve developed a game plan,” she reported. “[But] they’re asking for some assistance from the district.”

Stewart stated that while the depression has been temporarily filled in with sand and gravel, the repair to the pipe, alleyway and driveway would be “tens of thousands of dollars to one hundred thousand dollars.”

McGillivray’s report stated that the county could pursue two repair options. The first, highly expensive, would require the full excavation and replacement of the pipe. Its depth and proximity to structures and nearby utilities, however, make that option particularly challenging.

“Alternatively, the storm water pipe could be cleaned and lined in place if the slope is not too severe,” the report writes. Lining the pipe essentially places an intact, functional pipe inside the existing, damaged one. Even with this approach, however, McGillivray stated that the nearby driveways and garages would have to be underpinned and supported and the surrounding area pumped to remove groundwater. The county would then still have to excavate the pipe to inspect and clean it to determine if lining will work.

Citing potential damage to nearby townhomes, supervisors emphasized the need to undertake repairs quickly. Stewart stated that in order to expedite the repair and preserve nearby structures, the county requested the districts undertake the pinning and support of the driveways and garages before actual pipe repairs would take place. Stewart also stated that county staff assured her the county would reimburse the district for the work. When CDD Supervisor Bill Casale asked if the county request was rooted in the belief that the district could move more quickly than the larger county bureaucracy, Stewart stated, “That’s correct.”

Casale pressed her. “Do we know for sure they are going to pay us back?”

Casale added he had concerns about liability arising from undertaking work on private property of both the affected homeowners and possibly their townhomes’ association.

CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney weighed in. “My suggestion is that we stick [CDD Attorney] Erin [McCormick] on this.”

When McCormick arrived later in the meeting, supervisors requested she contact the county to resolve payment and ownership issues, obtain the results of McGillivray’s geotechnical studies and contact the homeowners and townhome association for permission to undertake the work. Supervisors committed to meeting on July 17 to expedite approval of initial work that will enable the county to finish the job.

Supervisors also directed CDD Engineer Stewart to negotiate with BioMassTech regarding a $7,075 bill for showing up over the previous weekend. The company remained on standby to fill the depression in the alley with concrete to stabilize it in the event it worsened. When it did not, the county instead filled the area with sand and gravel.

At the urging of Supervisors Casale and Brian Ross, Stewart also stated she would review the situation in the West Park Village alley to determine if the district should budget differently in 2013 or perhaps begin reserving for storm system repairs within gated communities. The district generally owns roads, street lights, rights of way and infrastructure within gated communities and homeowners within those neighborhoods are assessed for their maintenance.

In other matters, Stewart stated she had finalized bids for the milling and repaving of all West Park Village alleys. She clarified that the low bid was actually won by a different company than the one announced in June. Stewart stated that CPLM Asphalt & Concrete Parking Lot Maintenance will undertake the work for a total cost of $125,543, including a performance bond. The work will likely commence in October or November after the summer rains end.

Stewart also advised supervisors to publish a request that homeowners who have issues with street flooding or depressions in roads or alleys should contact the district office at 920-4268 or via e-mail at cdd@westchasecdd.com to enable staff to investigate and address the matter.

Making his report, District Manager Andy Mendenhall stated that two companies attended a pre-bid meeting for a Westchase distributed antenna system (DAS). Mendenhall stated he addressed their questions and circulated the questions and answers to all companies that have expressed interest in bidding. All bidders’ proposals are due July 27. Supervisors are expected to review them at their Aug. 7 meeting and perhaps invite a number of them for interviews at their September meeting. CDD Supervisor Bill Casale stated that, once a bidder is selected, construction of the system will likely take six months to a year, depending upon the availability of materials. A DAS, consisting of multiple, smaller antennae often disguised as street lights, is used in place of very tall cell towers, which have been repeatedly rejected by Westchase residents.

Responding to McCormick’s recommendation they approve a settlement to a legal dispute with former landscaping contractor Vila and Son, supervisors unanimously did so. The agreement calls on the district to make $30,000 of its final landscaping payment and also pay $7,200 to another company that undertook the trimming of district trees. Vila and Son served as landscape contractor until they left the property after citing financial difficulties. The district had withheld their final month’s payment to the company, estimated in the $50,000 range, in hopes of recouping costs associated with the district’s having to find a temporary landscaper and rebid the work.

The meeting was suspended at 5:30 p.m. with the expectation it would resume at 8 a.m. on July 17.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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