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CDD Board Hears Road Preservation Pitch

The Dec. 5 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District (CDD) saw a presentation on road preservation.

At the session, supervisors also addressed Glencliff Park playground repairs and considered an inquiry from Woodbridge HOA about the district’s willingness to take ownership of its gates and roads.

The meeting opened with a presentation by Lenn Morse of Whittaker Construction Company. Morse pitched the application of sealer on roads offered by the district as a way of prolonging their lifespans. Many of the district’s roads, consisting of West Park Village alleys and roads tucked behind gates, have been repaved in recent years. CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart encouraged supervisors to consider hiring the company to apply the material. Both Morse and Stewart stated a management plan to shut down the roads to allow them to be resealed would have to be worked out and effectively communicated to residents. Rather than bid out the project, Stewart stated supervisors could explore piggy-backing on an existing bid won by the company for work in Orlando, bringing the price for the Westchase work to $295,000, which would be paid for out of road reserves. She recommended the project, however, be completed sometime between January and May, to avoid the rainy season.

Returning to a topic the district has discussed for months, Stewart stated she was still working with Betty Valenti of M/I Homes, who built the West Lake Townhomes development across the lake from north side of Stonebridge and east side of Sturbridge. Stewart stated the townhome board had approved the property transfer of the lake to the district, which has, in the past, flooded Stonebridge and prompted privacy concerns from its residents about folks accessing the area through West Lake Townhomes and fishing. She stated the developer was eager to transfer the lake and surrounding land to the CDD before turning control of the townhome board over to its residents.

Prior to transfer, Supervisor Ross requested that the developer write restrictions into the townhome HOA documents limiting its residents’ access to and recreational use of the lake.

Supervisor Barbara Griffith, however, questioned why the district was so eager to limit the residents’ use of the lake and even acquire its ownership. “I kind of get the theme we have to  own everything.”

Field Supervisor Doug Mays responded that owning the lake was the only effective way the district could control its outflow structures and water levels to prevent flooding.

“We’re so afraid of what might happen,” Griffiths countered. When she added she didn’t understand why the district would buy the lake, supervisors corrected her and stated M/I Homes was not selling the parcel to the district but transferring the lake ownership so that it was not responsible for its maintenance.

“I’m absolutely convinced it’s in the best interest of the Westchase community to get control of it,” concluded Supervisor Brian Ross.

Stewart then updated supervisors on her efforts to build comprehensive print and digital maps of Westchase and the district’s property and encouraged supervisors to ensure that best management practices for the maintenance of pond banks, essential to reducing erosion, be incorporated into the landscaping and pond contracts to ensure contractors observe them.

Making her report, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated she had reviewed the contract for the Glencliff Park renovation and concluded its two-year warranty provided a legal basis for the the district to send a demand letter to the contractor to address the peeling rubber surface around the merry-go-round feature.

Echoing advice he gave at November’s meeting, Supervisor Brian Ross suggested that, rather than dealing with the recalcitrant subcontractor who is refusing to honor the warranty, staff reach out to Dynamo, the Canadian company who undertook the contract and hired the subcontractor.

Supervisors then briefly addressed plans to replace West Park Village’s street signs and traffic signs, which no longer meet county or state codes. Supervisor Brian Ross district staff if they were motivated to make the change more for esthetic or safety reasons. When Office Manager Sonny Whyte responded it was for greater safety, Ross responded, “If we think there is a safety issue, I’d really like to hear quite a sense of urgency.”

In response, staff stated they would meet with the county engineer to determine how much of the signage the county would be willing to cover (Hillsborough County’s standard signage is far simpler and less expensive than West Park’s decorative signage.) Once Whyte has final numbers, staff can determine whether the project would require bidding based on state thresholds.

“Why wouldn’t we want to go out and bid it?” asked McCormick.

“I would be in favor of that,” added Supervisor Griffith.

Supervisors then touched on the ability of the district to also assess the West Park Village Apartment complex, whose residents depend on the signage, as well as West Park residents for their estimated $200,000-$250,000 replacement cost. McCormick observed that she saw no legal obstacle to doing so.

Supervisor Griffith then raised a few issues. She stated she had investigated the continuation of the sidewalk or a mulched path on the west side of Montague Street from its current end at Westchase Drive to the Linebaugh intersection. Supervisor Chesney cautioned that the district had planted the area with a number of trees and hedges to encourage students walking from Davidsen to use the school district’s designated crosswalk rather than walk down the grassy stretch. “We’d essentially be undoing what we did,” he said, adding it was done to keep kids on the sidewalk and prevent them from darting into traffic.

Citing her inability to get a crossing guard for middle school students at Westchase Drive, Griffith also suggested the district might consider a speed bump on Montague Street to slow traffic down. “I’m committed to getting mobility in Westchase to be safe,” she said.

Chesney cautioned that putting a speed bump on Montague Street would likely prompt strong resident opposition.

CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte assured Griffith that she would speak to the county the next day to explore the extension of a safe path. 

Supervisor Chesney then inquired about whether McCormick found a requirement that the Westchase Town Center along Linebaugh had a requirement to provide a continuous sidewalk along its front. Its current sidewalk is used as outdoor seating for a number of restaurants along the commercial strip.

McCormick, however, stated the requirement for the sidewalk could only be enforced by the now defunct Westchase Commercial Association. She added that due to limitations on the district’s easement along the Linebaugh right of way, which was limited to wall building and maintenance, if the community wanted a continuous sidewalk on the south side of Linebaugh Avenue from West Park Village to Sheldon Drive, the next step would be to figure out a proper alignment to avoid wetlands and have the Westchase Community Association’s Government Affairs Committee (GAC) advocate for its installation by the county.

Office Manager Sonny Whyte then stated she had been approached by a representatives of the Woodbridge homeowners association, who asked whether the district was open to being transferred ownership of that gated neighborhood’s gates and roads for the districts to maintain and assess Woodbridge residents for. Supervisors expressed a willingness if Woodbridge residents supported the transfer.

Closing the meeting, Supervisor Griffith asked if the district could construct a shed at Glencliff Park in which to store the soccer goals to improve their appearance over the current practice of chaining them to a tree. Field Supervisor Mays, stated, however, the structure would have to be quite large to fit the goals.

A volunteer coach with the Westchase Soccer Association (as is Griffith), Supervisor Lewis cautioned that the goals were quite heavy. “You don’t want to carry it too far.”

“They’re an eyesore,” Griffith said. “They’re just an eyesore.”

Griffith also inquired whether the district could provide more permanent shade structures for parents using the field but Mays cautioned that a previous plan to shade the existing bleachers prompted significant opposition from Glencliff residents. He did, however, commit to exploring possible shade options for the other side of the field.

Supervisor Ross requested that staff also reach out to Glencliff’s voting member to give the neighborhood notice about the proposal.

Supervisor Matt Lewis concluded the meeting by requesting that staff explore the possible addition of a slide to Glencliff Park. Stating there was room within the playground for a small slide for younger children, Mays responded, “It’s doable.”

In other matters:

Supervisors gave their blessing to putting up some holiday decorations on The Enclave’s gate and entrance. Owned by The Enclave’s HOA, the district has historically left its decoration to that community, but CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte stated the community’s property manager was out on medical leave.

Supervisor Matt Lewis asked CDD staff to inquire with the county about the possible installation of blinking lights that are activated by residents wishing to use the crosswalk on Countrway Boulevard between Keswick Forest and The Westchase Swim and Tennis Center.

CDD Dec. 4 Parks Workshop

Westchase Community Development District Supervisors met for a workshop at the Maureen Gauzza Public Library on Monday, Dec. 4, where they tackled a number of topics related to parks.

At a workshop, supervisors can hold discussions but cannot vote on motions or make official decisions.

Among other matters, supervisors addressed West Park Village resident George Doster’s proposal to turn a portion of the West Park Village Town Center green on Montague street into a small, fenced dog run or dog park. CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney stated that Jordan Petras, manager of the West Park Village Apartments and commercial area, had conveyed to the district the preference that the area not be converted to a dog park.

While supervisors took no formal vote, the conversation suggested the idea lacked supervisor support for that location. Supervisor Barbara Griffith, however, expressed support for shifting the location to an area under TECO’s high voltage wires adjacent to the parking lot for the David Weekley Townhome development, just south of Fifth Third Bank. Griffith stated she had received tentative support for the idea from the property owner, Alan Charon of Real Property Specialists. Supervisors encouraged Doster to inquire with TECO about its willingness to allow a dog park on the area, with some suggesting the location no longer made it a CDD matter. Other supervisors suggested the district might hammer out a use agreement with Charon.

Supervisors also discussed the development of a landscaping plan to redesign and replant Westchase’s neighborhood entrances with Field Manager Doug Mays and Neal Stralow of Stantec, the district’s engineering firm. Stralow committed to developing some CAD drawings and recommendations with the assistance of Mays, who estimated that landscaping could be redone for between $1,000-$3,000 at each subdivision entrance.

Supervisors closed with a brief discussion of the planned replacement of street signage in West Park Village.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted Dec. 11, 2017


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