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CDD Treads Water on Parks Plan

A brief meeting of the Westchase CDD on Nov. 3 saw no formal action advancing the district’s planned park renovations.

Supervisors instead discussed what was intended by their October motion that approved their $1.5 million parks plan.

Field Manager Doug Mays stated he left the Oct. 6 meeting of the Westchase CDD with the impression that supervisors’ approval of the plan, compiled by Neale Stralow of Stantec, authorized him to move forward on work on the West Park Village splash fountain. When the contract for its renovation was brought to CDD Chair Mark Ragusa, however, he declined to sign it.

Addressing the confusion, CDD Supervisor Greg Chesney stated he also left October’s meeting with the impression the board had approved the plan, leaving the bid process and contractor selection to Mays and Stralow. CDD Supervisor Brian Ross agreed, stating, “I thought we had approved it.” Ross added, “I did have the impression we were moving forward with that.”

Ragusa, however, stated that he wanted to see the bids for the splash park and have the board approve its contractor. “I am not comfortable bidding out a $100,000 project without getting competitive bids.” Ragusa added, “I thought we were going to make final approvals tonight.”

Staff, however, had not compiled bids for any of the work, instead electing to first seek clarification of the October motion. Thus, the project was left in limbo an additional month.

Expressing support for leaving the project’s management to staff, Chesney argued that Mays and Stralow were getting comparative bids, but for some projects like the splash park, proprietary designs would make an apples-to-apples bid comparison impossible. “I’ve never heard Doug not to bid anything,” he added.

Ultimately, however, Mays was asked to carry out Ross’ suggested compromise – that staff handle bids and contractor selection for smaller items but bring bids for larger portions of the project, specifically the splash pad and actual playgrounds at Baybridge and Glencliff Parks, to the board for approval.

At the meeting CDD Engineer Stewart, participating by phone, mentioned that M/I Homes, the developer of West Lake Townhomes behind Sturbridge and Stockbridge, expressed a desire to transfer their ownership of ponds adjacent to Westchase to the CDD. The transfer would allow the district to manage the storm-water retention areas. Stewart suggested it would be in Westchase’s interest to do so as the ponds’ outflow most directly impacts Westchase. Field Manager Doug Mays said maintenance would likely cost no more than $1,000 annually. Supervisors, however, requested that CDD Attorney Erin McCormick investigate M/I’s development permits pertaining to the ponds before a formal decision is made.

Supervisors also heard from Village Green resident Monica Diba. Diba requested the board approve measures offering greater security and safety for the pedestrian bridge running from the West Park Village tennis courts to Village Green. Diva stated the bridge has increasingly been used as a teen hangout. She cited a recent drug arrest there and vandalism to the bridge and nearby homes. Diba particularly called for greater lighting of the bridge.

Addressing the matter, Deputy Kristian Gunderson, who supervises the district’s off-duty patrol, stated he had received no reports of vandalism from residents or the district and encouraged residents to report all vandalism to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office so it can be tracked.

Mays stated he had discussed security cameras with a nearby homeowner who suggested them but observed that installation would be quite costly as the district would have to run camera cables to the site. Mays stated the better solution might be for the homeowner to install them on his own property. Further, Mays stated the district could look into brighter lights for the bridge but expressed concerns about flood lights, stating spillover light could affect nearby homes. Supervisors asked, however, that Mays bring back a proposal for enhancing the lighting of the bridge.

In other actions:

CDD Engineer Tonja Stewart announced that the repaving of roads in the gated neighborhood of The Vineyards had been completed. When she asked for the board’s approval to a change order for the performance bond for the work, supervisors instead requested she obtain the actual insurance policy to determine why it was higher than expected.  The board, however, unanimously approved payment for the rest of the project.

Supervisors gave tentative approval to an amendment to their contract with their district management company, Severn Trent Services, permitting the company to charge a $75 fee for estoppel letters it prepares for Realtors. Supervisors, however, requested District Manager Andy Mendenhall return with new language that indemnified the district for any disagreements arising from Severn Trent’s estoppel letters.

Supervisors briefly discussed the possibility of putting the district management contract, currently held by Severn Trent Services out to bid after the issue was raised by Supervisor Bob Argus. The contract has not been bid in more than five years – since before Westchase’s original two districts merged. No other supervisor, however, supported undertaking a bid process. The current contract annually renews with possible CPI adjustments.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted: 15 Nov 2015

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