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VMs Talk Guidelines and Transportation Issues

Gathering at their Feb. 10 meeting, 22 Westchase Voting Members (VMs) addressed neighborhood guidelines and transit issues.

After the group quickly approved their only agenda item – final approval for the color palette guidelines for the Classic Townhomes, Traditional Townhomes and Townhomes of West Park Village, Westchase Community Association (WCA) Board President Joaquin Arrillaga asked VMs if they had any questions or comments.

VM Cynde Mercer (The Bridges) asked if there was a way that the WCA could report to residents when they become aware robberies within Westchase. Arrillaga responded that a committee previously looked into this but the WCA attorney had concerns that it might make the WCA liable. Arrillaga said he would address it with their lawyer again.

VMs inquired about Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman’s Jan. 26 visit to Radcliffe to address road repaving there. Arrillaga reported that they met with Murman and Public Works Director John Lyons and presented a VM letter, approved in January, showing the group’s unanimous approval for the road repairs. Last month, the WCA also established a community petition to gather signatures for road repaving. Arrillaga observed, “They are putting an extra $10 million dollars into the budget for road repairs, which already had $10 million in it. Out of that total $20 million, Westchase is targeted to receive some of those dollars. This petition will have a lot of impact to move this forward.”

WCA Director Joe Odda, chair of the Government Affairs Committee, added, “Sandy Murman said it is important that we involve ourselves in the transportation process because we need to put our word in to make sure that we get some of the budget. If you go to the public hearings, you can mention this as being critical. There is some money allocated to Westchase but we want to be sure it stays there.”

Odda added that Murman was impressed that Westchase had quickly organized around the petition and already had more than 600 signatures. Odda added that the Citrus Park Drive extension, which is a separate item but still in the county’s transportation plan, is also being discussed and asked that VMs and residents share their thoughts on the plan at the upcoming GO Hillsborough community meetings. (See article, page 15.)

VMs discussed the upcoming GO Hillsborough meetings, aimed at developing a county transportation plan. Mercer (The Bridges) asked Odda, “Isn’t it true that really what this is about is gauging taxpayer’s feelings about taxes for transportation?”

Odda, who is heavily involved in the process, replied, “Yes, we realized that the essence of the effort is to build positive reception for new revenue sources to fund that plan. We need to decide to support that initiative for new revenue and spread the word that it is good to vote yes for tax increases.”

VMs also discussed recent votes in Pinellas and Pasco Counties that failed due to lack of walking the neighborhoods and getting people on board. In contrast, some noted, votes in Jacksonville, FL and Charlotte, NC were successful because they did go into neighborhoods and win support.

Related to the county’s upcoming transportation plans, Arrillaga noted that one of the items being discussed is connecting Montague Street in West Park Village to Waters Avenue. Citing additional traffic through West Park Village, Arrillaga stated, “This is the type of project we may not want.”

VM Nancy Sells (Harbor Links/The Estates) said, “I would suggest that everyone go to one of the neighborhood meetings. It is so enlightening. They make it a clear picture of what they are trying to do. Get the word out to your residents to encourage them to get to these meetings.”

Wrapping up the VM session, Arrillaga reported that VMs’ March meeting was moving to March 17 due to spring break and the need to hold Voting Member training with legal counsel.

VM Don Costello (Stamford) asked, “A lot of people here have been to previous training. Do we need it?”

Arrillaga replied, “I see a lot of new faces here.”

VM Carlos Quiros (Villas of West Park Village) encouraged Arrillaga to have WCA Attorney Jon Ellis confine his presentation to the responsibilities of the voting members, which should keep it to no longer than a half hour

VM Patrick O’Brien (Glenfield) brought up a safety issue caused by cars parking at Glenfield’s entrance to drop off and pick up kids riding the school bus. O’Brien observed the parked cars are creating a dangerous situation with cars entering and exiting the neighborhood.

VM Ed Siler (Stockbridge) responded, “We had the same thing in Stockbridge with Davidsen Middle School. You can call the sheriff’s office non-emergency number and they will come and clear them for you.”

VMs adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

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