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CDD Supervisors Review Draft of Park Redesigns; Oppose State Bills on Security Cameras

At their April 7 meeting, Westchase CDD supervisors saw an initial draft of potential park redesigns for Baybridge and Glencliff Parks and voted unanimously to oppose bills before the Florida legislature that could significantly limit residents’ use of CDD security camera footage.

The Westchase Community Development District (CDD) meeting saw Stantec Designer Neale Stralow offer a preliminary set of ideas for the rehabbing of Glencliff and Baybridge Parks to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Stralow was hired by supervisors to compile an inventory of district-owned green spaces, produce a Parks Master Plan and offer an ADA-compliant redesign of the two parks. Stralow walked supervisors through broad outlines of his preliminary, broad ideas for four parcels, including Glencliff and Baybridge Parks; undeveloped land along the TECO easement near the UTB Regional Library; and a recently acquired piece of land with access issues between Stonebridge and The Vineyards.

Click here to open a PDF of the preliminary concept drawings for the four parcels.

Under his preliminary concept descriptions of Baybridge Park, Stralow offered largely minor tweaks, replacing the play equipment with ADA-compliant structures, replacing the current shade structures with ones more difficult to climb upon, and adjusting paths and gates to eliminate bicycles passing through the center of the large pavilion adjacent to the playground.

Glencliff’s preliminary concept description offered more substantial changes. Stralow suggested eliminating the baseball/softball diamond, enhancing the landscaping through the current baseball diamond’s outfield to separate it from the children’s play areas and relocating the existing basketball courts to the grassy area adjacent to the park’s southern parking lot.

Supervisors then offered their input on the broad concepts offered for Glencliff Park. Opening discussion, CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney stated, “I would propose eliminating the basketball courts altogether.”

Referring to the removal of the baseball diamond (whose outfield is frequently used for additional soccer space) and its division with new landscaping, Argus observed, “We would be potentially eliminating some soccer fields.”

Addressing the basketball courts, CDD Supervisor Mark Ragusa, however, took the opposite position from Chesney. “They are very heavily utilized on the weekends.” He added, “I don’t want to eliminate amenities.”

Subsequently CDD Chair Brian Ross also expressed hesitation about removing amenities that may have prompted some homeowners to purchase their Westchase homes.

Supervisors, however, did ask Stralow for two alternatives. At CDD Office Manager Sonny’ Whyte’s suggestion, they asked Stralow to incorporate a higher wall around the children’s playground to keep children from wandering onto Countryway Boulevard. They also asked Stralow to return with ideas for other uses for the current basketball court area, particularly for older children, and requested Stralow incorporate some kind of physical barrier between areas for the older and younger children.  Stralow’s preliminary drawing suggested incorporating more pavilions and paths in the current court area.

Briefly addressing the district land along the TECO wires adjacent to the UTB Regional Library, Stralow said the back of the parcel, representing the most useful portion, was likely too remote and inaccessible to cars to do anything with other than nature and biking trails. The board’s consensus was to set the property aside until Hillsborough County’s future plans for passive recreational use of the large mitigation area lying north of Radcliffe and The Fords and east of The Shires became clearer.

Citing its access issues, Stralow also offered minimal plans for a parcel bookended by Stonebridge and The Vineyards and lying between Promise Lane and the large lake beside Westchase Elementary School. While he pitched a trail running along the TECO wires leading to the property, supervisors passed on it and asked him to instead flesh out a proposed boardwalk and pier for the large lake. It would be located just off the Linebaugh Avenue sidewalk.

Concluding major action, Supervisor Brian Ross suggested the district approve a resolution opposing Senate Bill 962, proposed by Westchase’s state senator, John Legg (R., Dist. 17), at the request of the Ballantrae CDD. The bill, along with its companion, House Bill 537, exempts CDD security camera footage from public records laws and declares it confidential. The bill, if passed, would limit the release of footage to police, courts and residents. (The bills’ original language, amended after pressure from Westchase residents, even banned residents from the footage.) Historically, residents of Westchase’s gated neighborhoods have been able to use the camera footage to make claims for property damage. Under the bill, however, the footage could no longer be released to insurance companies or other entities and districts could elect not to release it to residents at all. Citing its restrictions and the potential increased costs it could place on districts maintaining security cameras, Ross stated, “I think we should oppose that bill. I think it is a nightmare.” 

Supervisors unanimously voted to oppose both the Senate and House bills and asked that CDD Attorney Erin McCormick communicate the resolution and their opposition to members of the Florida legislature. Click here to view the resolution.

In other news:

CDD staff reported that Hillsborough County had contacted them about removing a number of street trees on Weybridge Drive in Kingsford after residents complained about the trees blocking streetlights and creating safety hazards. Staff reported that they are working with the county, which owns the rights of way, to minimize tree removal and excessive trimming to maintain the district’s original goal of having the trees form a canopy over the roads when fully mature. The CDD maintains street trees located in county right of way between the sidewalks and roads.

Supervisors voted unanimously to notice a public meeting, likely to be held during one of their regular monthly meetings, to raise the park pavilion rental fees at Baybridge and Glencliff Parks from $25 to $50.

Supervisors briefly discussed permitting a newly formed group, the Glencliff Sunday Soccer Club, to use Glencliff’s soccer fields and the CDD soccer goals on Sunday mornings from 8-10 a.m. Supervisors tabled further discussion until May and requested clarification from the group about their insurance coverage and waivers for non-member players.

Supervisors approved repairs to a drainage pipe under a Greenpointe home’s damaged driveway apron and agreed to contribute $900 to the homeowner’s overall driveway replacement cost to cover the CDD-owned portion of the driveway. The homeowner requested the district work with him to ensure a consistent appearance of the driveway. The CDD owns the roads and rights-of-way (which includes driveway aprons and sidewalks) within The Greens, a gated neighborhood.

District Manager Andy Mendenhall announced that three residents had thus far indicated interest in filling the vacancy created by former CDD Supervisor Brian Zeigler’s February resignation. Interested residents can still submit letters of interest and a brief resume to District Manager Andy Mendenhall at amendenhall@severntrentms.com by May 22. Supervisors are expected to fill the vacancy at their June 2 meeting.

Bridges resident Patrick Neylan expressed concerns about the potential impact of the M/I Homes development adjacent to Davidsen Middle School, Sturbridge and Stonebridge. Neylan cited damage to a Sturbridge home, the development’s aesthetically displeasing fence and the potential impact of runoff into a nearby pond and Westchase properties. CDD supervisors asked staff to have CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart visit the area to determine if the work might adversely affect the district’s property and pond.

Discussing the preparation of the district’s draft 2016 budget, Mendenhall asked supervisors to send him any potential wish lists of items they’d like to see incorporated into the district’s tentative spending plan.

Supervisors adjourned at 6:25 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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