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WCA Board Approves 2014 Budget with $2 Assessment Increase

During the September Westchase Community Association’s (WCA) resident forum a Westchase resident asked the board to cut $70,000 from the capital improvement line of budget so that residents’ association fees could be lowered to $320.

The request from Stamford’s Don Costello that directors cut the capital improvements line, actually budgeted for $25,000, went nowhere, however. Late in the Sept. 5 meeting, WCA directors voted unanimously to pass the budget draft that had emerged from the association’s Aug. 20 budget workshop unchanged. The budget calls for a two dollar increase in homeowners’ assessments to $322, the first increase in the WCA assessment since 2008. Following board approval, Westchase Voting Members (VMs) then have 10 days to reject the plan. If VMs take no action, the spending plan will be the official 2014 budget.

After that request, the hour-long resident forum, which precedes the monthly meeting of the board, was dominated by a discussion of facilities. Westchase tennis players were out in full force to voice their opinions about the hiring of a new tennis coach and to ask questions about the Swim and Tennis Center Committee and upcoming tennis court renovations. WCA President Joaquin Arrillaga said that he appreciated their involvement and e-mails. He restated the purpose of the Swim and Tennis Center Committee as a committee that makes recommendations to the board about use of the facilities, not personnel matters, and told them the board would be appointing residents to that committee during the board meeting.

Following the session, Arrillaga announced on Sept. 9 that the new Westchase tennis pro would be Roberto Calla. Calla, a 20-year veteran of tennis who has coached all ages and trained coaches from both the U.S. and Europe, comes from the Tennissmith School, a private golf and tennis academy in Northdale.

Turning to plans for the construction of a tennis building adjacent to the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center courts, Association Manager Debbie Sainz reported that there was one final piece of paperwork the United States Tennis Association (USTA) had requested. The association has applied for a USTA grant to help finance the renovations to the tennis facilities. Sainz went on to say, “After all the paperwork is turned in, USTA has three to four months to respond to the grant request; therefore, a specific date for renovations has not been determined.”

The board then heard from a resident with complaints that the water in the West Park Village pool was too cold since the new geothermal chillers have been installed. Arrillaga said that the pool’s temperature was based on USA Swimming Organization guidelines that pools should be set between 83-86 degrees for the safety of lap swimmers. Arrillaga also said that overall there are more complaints about the water in the pool being too warm rather than too cold.

A resident who is part of group of 20-30 people who use the volleyball courts on Saturdays and Sundays was also present to represent that group and ask that the volleyball court not be demolished in order to build a new children’s tennis court. “The master plan that determined the volleyball court was never used and should therefore be demolished was established two years ago,” he stated. “Over the past two years, a consistent group of 20 to 30 volleyball players uses the court every Saturday and Sunday. While the court might have never been used before two years ago, it is now. We have approached the Community Development District about building a new volleyball court but they do not see the value in doing that.” The resident also presented the board with a petition of support for the volleyball court.

Arrillaga, however, said that the plans for the tennis court renovations were already approved so they could not save the existing volleyball court and he suggested that the development of a new volleyball court would be something that the soon-to-be reestablished Swim and Tennis Center Committee could explore. He encouraged the resident to bring it to that committee’s attention.

Once the resident forum ended and the board meeting officially began, Director Nancy
Sells made a motion to set the number of committee members for the Swim and Tennis Center Committee to five with a mix of tennis players and swimmers. Her motion named Operations Manager Kelly Shires as the liaison between the committee and the board. Vice President Dyan Pithers amended the motion that one neutral person (neither a tennis player nor swimmer) should be part of the committee. Arrillaga added that the committee should meet at least quarterly and they should determine its own mission statement and elect its chair. WCA Director Keith Heinemann was absent from the meeting but all present WCA directors voted in favor.

Arrillaga then nominated Mary Turnbull, Kyle Roberts, Brenda Bennett, and Ralph Caputo as members of the Swim and Tennis Center Committee and all received unanimous approval. The committee still needs one member who is a regular swimmer or who is involved with the swim programs. Interested residents may contact Sainz at 926-6404.

Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Ken Blair reported that a group of residents interested in having a dog park in Westchase has formed a committee that has been working with the county to get a dog park built. The county has agreed to build a dog park in Westchase and will be surveying two potential sites: land next to the Upper Tampa Bay Library and land next to the Westchase Recreation Center. The preferred site is the land next to the library but first the county has to determine if the land is available and if it is feasible to build a dog park there.

Blair also reported that as of the beginning of September only about half of Westchase residents had received their new garbage and recycling containers. The county has informed him that all residents should have their new containers by Sept. 30.

Arrillaga subsequently made a motion to place a temporary moratorium on trashcan restrictions since many residents are finding the new containers too big to fit into their garages along with their current trash and recycling receptacles. All board members voted in favor of suspending the requirement that containers stored outside be surrounded or covered by fencing or shrubbery until the end of October. Trashcans left outside must still be stored on the side of the house.

Sainz reported that new hand scanners should be installed at the pools and tennis courts and that wireless Internet service at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center should be available by the end of September.

A motion to table a request from a Daisy troop to have a standing reservation at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center activity room passed by a 3-2 vote with Arrillaga and Sells casting the no votes. Arrillaga said that the leader of the troop had not provided the information the board had requested so he thinks they do not meet the resident requirement. He therefore argued the board should deny the request instead of tabling it.

Concluding major action, directors voted unanimously to replace two broken pool heaters at the Westchase Swim and Tennis Center pool.

By Marcy Sanford

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