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Westchase CDD Supervisors Address Intersection Safety in Greens; District Expands Park Reopenings

Attending on behalf of his neighbor Chris Dusse, Paul Mason from Greenpointe stated he wished to let supervisors know about neighborhood concerns that the stop sign on Greenpointe Way at Edgefield Place is frequently ignored.

As the owner of roads behind gates, the CDD has some jurisdiction over traffic signs. They also can hire additional off-duty deputies for law enforcement.

Mason stated, “Especially at night you’ll see cars just blow through that.” He added, “A couple times we’ve been almost hit.” Mason acknowledged that neighbors offer mixed opinions on the stop sign. He stated that perhaps a nearby small tree was obscuring the sign and it could be addressed or perhaps some other traffic control measure could be adopted in place of the sign. “People with children are of course concerned.”

CDD Field Manager Doug Mays stated the district did install the stop sign over the last ten years on Greenpointe to help slow traffic at the intersection. “I did a study a few years ago,” said Mays, adding that eight out of ten cars missed or ignored the stop sign. “Even a school bus ran the stop sign.” Mays, however, was concerned that using the off-deputy sheriff’s patrol to ticket offenders would simply upset residents. “I would be concerned about removing it,” he added of the sign. “I think the best thing to do would be to remove that tree first.”

After supervisors discussed which entity—the county or Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office—should be approached for guidance for improvements, they ultimately asked their engineer, Robert Dvorak, to look at the intersection and make some recommendations for improving intersection safety as he would have to certify any changes to signage anyway.

Dvorak also addressed several district engineering projects. He stated he had completed a plan to improve grading on CDD-owned land adjacent to a small Green Links Drive wall that was causing water to pool on a homeowner’s property. He stated that Mays and he examined erosion on a Greensprings pond and learned two additional homes were affected. He stated the repair plan and bid specifications for the project would be adjusted to cover the three homes. He stated he was still working to update a road reserve study. He added of a CDD-owned parcel that is behind the Maureen Gauzza Library and slated for a cell tower. “We had our ecologist take a look at the wetlands,” he said. He added, however, that he would have to bring in an additional consultant to accurately map the wetlands and uplands before submitting it for SWFTMD’s review to create an official map. “I’m convinced there’s enough of an area we can fit a 100 by 100 foot cell phone area there.” He added, “I think there’s more uplands in there and I think it’s something the CDD can turn into something nice…and get some use out of it.”

Turning to her report, CDD Attorney Erin McCormick stated she had informed the Environmental Protection Commission that the district would undertake required plantings of cypress trees in a corner of a large lake bounded by Sturbridge, Stonebridge and the M/I townhomes off Sheldon Road. Mays estimated the planting and removal of invasive species would likely be started before the district’s April 6 meeting.

McCormick then turned to an approved salary increase for Securitas staff at the Greens gatehouse. She stated that when she recently finalized the agreement, which would grant supervisors at the site a wage increase of one dollar an hour to ensure Securitas salaries remained competitive and they kept their employees. Securitas, however, responded that associated additional payroll management costs would also have to be placed into the contract.

Supervisor Brian Ross, however, pointed out that the security contract for the gatehouse had been amended with five increases since 2014, when it was last bid out. “It made me think we are getting in a pattern where we should consider bidding it out.” Ross, however, acknowledged that the last time the district considered making a change to the contract, a group of Greens residents attended a CDD meeting in protest because they felt the change had not been appropriately communicated. Stating if The Greens wanted to simply pay the increases, he didn’t want to upset the apple cart. “But I feel like we should slow down and go to the voting members back there,” he added.

Ross mentioned that the latest addendum would increase the security contract by over $15,000, representing a roughly 10 percent increase.

When Supervisors Matt Lewis and Jim Wimsatt pointed out that supervisors were told the increase represented standard rates and that it was adopted due to talk of losing employees to other security agencies, Ross stated he didn’t quibble with the staff increases but with Securitas’ additional billing charges associated with the increase.

Supervisor Forrest Baumhover concurred. Stating he understood the salary increase of one dollar per hour and the associated payroll taxes of 25 additional cents, he added the additional 50 cents per hour Securitas was now tacking on to the costs made no sense to him. “They’re not doing anything additional,” he said.

Supervisor Chesney, however, cautioned that the Greens resident who last protested the change did so because they didn’t want to lose specific Securitas employees at the gatehouse. When he inquired if the district still had a 30-day out clause for the contract and the board learned they did, supervisors ultimately approved the increase 4-1, with Ross opposed.

McCormick then stated she had followed up with the facilities manager for Hillsborough County Parks. “He confirmed to me in writing that the county has now opened up all of its basketball courts and all of its pavilions it has are available for reservations.” She added that the county has set limits on the numbers who can be in a rented site and they are not allowing vendors, such as bounce houses. McCormick suggested that the district perhaps include a risk waiver for those filling out a pavilion reservation request. Field Manager Mays stated staff intended to reinstall the basketball hoops on March 3.

McCormick concluded by telling supervisors a new state statute required the district to register with E-Verify and require all contracted vendors to use the site as well to check employee status.

Making his report, District Manager Andy Mendenhall stated their insurer recommended the district be doing a Department of Motor Vehicle check annually on its employees. Supervisor Chesney expressed surprise that a formal policy was not already in place and requested McCormick draft one.

After briefing supervisors on the district’s street tree program and a change the county made in acquiring tree removal permits, Field Manager Mays asked for supervisors approval to brick repairs to a Westchase entrance sign, the creation of raised plant beds in Harbor Links and repairs to a wall near CVS that had been damaged by a vehicle. He estimated the brick work for all three would cost $10,000 and supervisors voted unanimously to approve the work.

WOW’s reporter informed the board of reports of an individual who may be mentally ill who is accosting and threatening residents who are biking and walking in Westchase. Mays committed to passing the information on to the head of the district’s off-duty deputy patrol.

Supervisors adjourned at 5:10 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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