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CDD Talks Fireworks, Golf Course Landscaping and Westchase’s Appearance

The July 11 meeting of the Westchase Community Development District saw supervisors tackle fireworks and Westchase’s overall appearance.

Opening the meeting was CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart, who said that skyrocketing construction costs were causing her to revisit some estimates for road reserves in the district’s budget. She stated that current replacement prices were based on $8-9 per yard but current replacement costs were running $13-14. “It’s something we’re evaluating and looking at,” she added.

Stewart also stated district staff received a letter from the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFMD), which inquired about the district’s cleanout of Double Branch Creek, which runs behind Keswick Forest and Glenfield. Stewart stated SWFMD stepped in at the request of Twin Branch Acres Association, which was concerned the work would worsen recent flooding in that community. “Twin Branch Acres Association is just concerned,” she stated, adding she felt they were close to resolving the situation.

Supervisors then briefly addressed their 2018 draft budget, which sets assessments at roughly the same rate as this year. They made no changes to the plan, which is expected to be adopted at the Aug. 1 public budget meeting. That meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at the Westchase Community Association (WCA) office building on Parley Drive.

Field Manager Doug Mays stated that the gate opening mechanisms at the Radcliffe Drive entrance of Harbor Links and exit gates of The Greens had to be replaced at a cost of $11,175 and $8,595 respectively and supervisors green-lighted the work. (Gated neighborhoods are assessed additional funds to cover items related to their entrance gates.) Mays added that repairs to the Greens' gates, which have been left open, should be completed by the end of this week.

At Mays’ request, supervisors also voted, 5-0, to approve $3,200 in additional irrigation work, to be done by Baker Industries. The work will be completed in an area fronting the CVS, Applebee’s and Burger King within a CDD maintenance easement. The total is in addition to roughly $13,000 approved for re-landscaping the area at June’s meeting.

Mays also added that concrete ping-pong tables were installed near the West Park Village bell tower but additional grading work is still required around them and should be finished in a couple of weeks. He said the irrigation reconfiguration for the area was done in-house by CDD staff, saving the district $1,000.

CDD Office Manager Sonny Whyte addressed requested information regarding the replacing of West Park Village street signs, which have lost their reflectivity and no longer comply with county codes. She stated that to replace the paddles would require the replacement of all street and stop signs to county standards while maintaining their unique West Park VIllage look. The price she obtained was $147,000 for the work. Supervisors took no further action, with Supervisors Brian Ross and Barbara Griffith asking it be wrapped into a review of Westchase’s overall appearance they want to undertake following budget season.

To that end, District Manager Andy Mendenhall stated he would place on the September meeting agenda consideration of a motion to develop an RFP for bids for a landscape architect to develop a master plan of recommended improvements.

Addressing supervisors’ frustration with the appearance of rights of way along the Westchase Golf Course, Field Manager Doug Mays stated he discussed options with course manager Clay Thomas. Thomas, he said, mentioned he was open to granting the district a maintenance easement along the course owned right of way to allow the district to undertake improvements. “It is inconsistent,” said Supervisor Jim Mills of the golf course’s roadside property. “It’s an eyesore.” He added, “It is not representative of what we’re doing.”

Supervisors asked Mays to continue encouraging Thomas to address the areas, which he stated have recently seen some improvements. Yet they also asked CDD Attorney Erin McCormick to explore the easement option. McCormick added of the idea, “I don’t see a downside for the district.”

Supervisor Barbara Griffith inquired about the additional security camera district staff recently added to Saville Rowe’s gates. Mays responded that the community recently suffered two burglaries but its gates’ security cameras couldn’t capture the departing cars’ tags. The new camera, for which the community has adequate funds, would capture car tags.

Supervisor Griffith also inquired about improvements to the butterfly garden on Linebaugh Avenue, a site that many residents mistake for a memorial. Mays stated he had ordered four four-inch caliper oaks for along the sidewalk and staff would continue making incremental improvements. That approach, however, was countered by Supervisor Brian Ross. “My position is to declare that area a disaster,” he said.

Saying he meant no criticism of staff, Ross stated that well intentioned projects sometimes don’t work out as hoped for.

Supervisor Mills weighed in, saying that different positions were a good thing for discussion. “If we get it to where we want it to be, great.”

A resolution regarding further staff actions, however, was unclear.

Closing the meeting, Supervisor Brian Ross addressed the use of dangerous fireworks in a West Park Village park on Rowlett Way, where a large amount of garbage was left behind, on the Fourth of July. Stating he supported Independence Day and New Year’s celebrations and was not impeding on residents' private property, he stated the CDD-owned parks were not appropriate places for them. Supervisors voted 5-0 to support a motion to hire off-duty deputies to patrol CDD owned parks on Independence Day and New Year’s Eve. The motion empowered deputies to use appropriate judgment in addressing fireworks violations, including the confiscation of fireworks, permitted under state statute, and the issuing of trespass warnings.

The meeting concluded with Supervisor Jim Mills’ remarks about the recent funeral for Kingsford resident Maureen Gauzza, whom Mills credited for the existence of the UTB Regional Library in Westchase. A former resident of Kingsford, Mills recalled that Gauzza’s campaign for the library began with her visiting Kingsford residents’ living rooms to win their support for the cause.

Lexington Park resident Bob Argus, a member of the Hillsborough County Library Board, concluded comments about Gauzza by stating he had received an email announcing that Hillborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan had asked that a motion to rename the UTB Library the Maureen Gauzza Library be placed into the July 19 county commission agenda.

In other actions:

Supervisor Jim Mills again requested the CDD engineer look at the current Flournoy apartment development on Sheldon Road to ensure its development of the area wasn’t potentially impacting storm-water drainage for Westchase.

Supervisor Brian Ross inquired about a change in ownership of the U.S. branches of Severn Trent, the CDD’s management company. The U.S. division of the company was recently sold to investors and the company’s management team. District Manager Andy Mendenhall assured Ross that the change would not affect the existing contract or require a new one.

After Supervisor Matt Lewis inquired, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated she was still investigating sidewalk requirements associated with the construction of Westchase Town Center, a topic that came up at May and June’s CDD meetings.

Complimenting CDD staff members’ work, Glenfield’s Olive O’Brien inquired about algae that appeared to be regrowing in a Glenfield pond that has recently been planted with aquatic plants and treated for algae. Field Manager Doug Mays committed to visiting the site to determine if it needed further treatment.

CDD Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve Supervisor Barbara Griffith’s suggestion they participate in an upcoming Tampa Bay art project featuring the display of dog sculptures that are painted by various artists. The project will also feature an opportunity to vote for a favorite dog by contributing $1 for each vote to Southeastern Guide Dogs. Supervisors suggested looking at a location near the West Park Bell tower for the sculpture.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted July 12, 2017

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