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VMs Discuss Neighborhood Response Team

A their Aug. 11 meeting Westchase VMs reviewed rules for the association’s upcoming board elections and discussed a Neighborhood Response Team to address emergencies.

Voting members (VMs) opened the meeting by offering their final approval for a change to the rules governing pool cages in Chelmsford. The approved amendment will now allow bronze as well as white colors. It passed with no dissension.

Greens VM Jerry Pappa then encouraged VMs to consider leading an effort to support Metropolitan Ministries with other charitable drives throughout the year. “They have an amazing need year round,” Pappa said. “I would like to propose to the group…that we make a little stronger commitment.”
Stamford VM Don Costello expressed some concern, however. “I personal give to Metropolitan Ministries but don’t think the association should give to Metropolitan Ministries.”

Pappa clarified that he was not seeking donations from the association. Rather, he hoped to tap the association’s volunteers, combining their efforts with local groups such as Scout troops, to organize and hold drives in addition to the Westchase Thanksgiving Food Drive.

Pappa ultimately passed around a sign-up sheet looking for volunteers. When WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga requested permission to use the VM e-mail list to solicit volunteers for the effort, VMs indicated their support, with the VMs from Chelmsford and Saville Rowe dissenting. Residents interested in pitching in can contact Pappa via e-mail at

WCA Director Keith Heinemann, chair of the Nominating Committee, then introduced his committee’s proposed rules for the upcoming annual election of the board of directors on Sept. 8. Heinemann reminded VMs that three seats were up for election and that Arrillaga had announced his intention to run for reelection. He indicated two other incumbents, however, will not. “Ms. Pithers and Mr. Blair are retiring from the scene,” said Heinemann.

Most rules Heinemann pitched went unchanged from prior years. One proposed change, however, would have doubled the candidates’ time for introductory comments but eliminated their closing statements. Dyan Pithers, participating at the West Park Village Single Family Homes alternate, stated that when she ran for the board she found her concluding statements beneficial for addressing issues that had arisen during the question and answer period. Ultimately VMs approved an amendment to the rule, allowing two minute introductory comments and one minute for a concluding statement after the questions. VMs voted to approve the rules, with only Bridges VM Cynde Mercer opposed.

VMs then heard an update about the Neighborhood Response Team. Its chair, VM Ruben Collazo (The Shires), introduced John Oros of The Greens, who broke down the organizational structure of the team members and emphasized that the team hoped to respond to community emergencies, working in cooperation with first responders, but not replacing them. Oros stated the committee would start looking for volunteers in Westchase willing to work as zone captains, who in the aftermath of a disaster like a hurricane, would keep track of their residents, maintain a running neighborhood inventory of useful equipment like chain saws and generators and compile a list of residents with helpful skills. “That’s where we need the most help,” said Oros.

VMs also recommended the team consult with the county regarding training and cooperation with the county’s own group of emergency volunteers.

“We need one participant from each of your communities to get the ball rolling,” Collazo told VMs. Interested residents can reach out to Collazo at and read his Neighborhood Response Team committee report in September’s WOW for more information.

As VMs concluded, Glencliff VM Ed Fugit asked WCA Director Joe Odda for an update on his lobbying efforts to win Hillsborough County repaving of Westchase roads. Odda stated there was a possibility that additional funds would be included in the county’s new fiscal year budget, beginning Oct. 1. With the funding, some Westchase roads might be repaved. “I’m being told we will have to prioritize what neighborhoods need resurfacing,” Odda said, suggesting high priorities included Radcliffe and the neighborhoods off Countryway Boulevard.

VMs adjourned at 7:55 p.m., with many remaining to participate in the subsequent WCA Budget Workshop.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted: 13 August 2015


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