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VMs Approve New Mailboxes for Castleford and Portions of The Bridges

At their June 11 meeting, Westchase Voting Members’ (VM) two main agenda items were final votes for updated mailboxes for Castleford and the Bridges.

VMs also received an update on the county’s new garbage collection system, scheduled for rollout in October.

Similar neighborhood mailbox guideline amendments have been on the agenda nearly every month this year as various villages move towards updating their older white mailboxes with the newer black ones. While these amendment votes have generally been very quick and unanimous with little discussion, Graham Smith of The Bridges stood take issue with The Bridges’ change.

“We had a vote a few months ago in Sturbridge and my understanding was that the first vote did not pass. The second vote was taken some other time, during the garage sale I think. At this time, it passed. What allowed the second vote to go on if the first vote did not pass?” he asked.

Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board President, Joaquin Arrillaga clarified that the process is not a formal vote. “Someone just walks around and gets signatures,” he stated.

Smith continued, “I did my own informal check and at least five residents were never contacted a second time.”

Arrillaga replied, “Once they reach the 50 percent yes votes required, it passes. All of the people who didn’t vote count as no votes.”

“Why was there a third vote?” Smith inquired. “I heard someone was garnering more votes. I have heard that the mailboxes are hard to take care of and maintain. I have been over by Starbucks and seen several of those where the paint is fading and the black paint is peeling off.”

VM Cynde Mercer (The Bridges) explained, “There were two votes. The first vote was about a year ago. Volunteers were walking around in The Bridges, but it is a very large neighborhood so we had to nullify the vote. Then we tried again. That was the second vote. I know I walked around three or four days. I think one or two people walked your street.”

Smith responded, “Why the extreme, high price? We have people that are retired. I looked at plastic and metal mailboxes that are $200 max.”

Mercer responded that the price was $294.25.

VM Ruben Collazo (The Shires) added, “That price is consistent with what we paid in The Shires.”

When Smith explained that he was worried about the cheapness of the catch mechanism in the mailbox, Collazo responded, “I know there is a warranty.”

Smith then added, “We have had vandalism on the street with kids with baseball bats. This $294 is being passed on to the homeowners.”

VM Carlos Quiros (Villas of WPV) weighed in. “I know some people have complained but neither the board of directors or this group goes after any neighborhood that doesn’t change their mailbox. It’s the neighborhood itself. I’ve lived in West Park Village 14 years with the same mailbox.”

When VM Ira Hoffman (Woodbay) asked Association Manager Debbie Sainz for The Bridges vote breakdown, Sainz replied “They needed 120 and got 123 (yes votes). ”

Hoffman then made a motion to approve the change to The Bridges mailboxes, which was seconded by Collazo. When the vote was taken, it was unanimous for approval. The change affects Sturbridge, Wakesbridge and Baybridge.

Castleford’s mailbox guideline also passed.

Arrillaga then informed VMs they would have to meet in July to consider other neighborhoods’ mailbox guidelines.  He added, “In September, we have elections for three positions on the board. If anyone is interested, I can put their name in the hat.”

He also reminded VMs that there is a big pool party at the West Park Village pool on July 13 with prizes, games and music.

Kathy Carlsen (Glencliff) then asked if a future meeting would be held about the changeover of Westchase’s garbage collection. Ken Blair, Government Affairs Committee Chair, explained that he had attended several meetings about the changes. The changeover, Blair said, is expected to occur around Oct. 1. There would be three different sizes of trash containers: 35-gallon, 65-gallon and 95-gallon, lifted by the automated truck. Notices have been sent to homeowners who are 65 or older to choose the size they want. Everyone else will get the 95-gallon container for a trial period from October to Jan. 15, which will cover the holidays when people generally have more trash. If the container is too large, homeowners will have a one-time opportunity to change sizes by notifying the provider. Exchanges after that date will cost $30.

Blair said that he had given a copy of the FAQ’s from the County’s Web site to Sainz for distribution. When VM Gerald Pappa (The Greens) asked if twice weekly pick-up will remain, Blair replied, “The number of times for pickup has not changed. Yard waste would be done manually as opposed to automated. That’s not to say that your day may not change.”

VM Collazo added that some residents were worried they wouldn’t have room in their garages for the larger trash container and asked if they can put them outside their garage. Sainz replied, “As long as it is not visible to the public.”

VMs adjourned at 7:37 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

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