Those in attendance were there to urge the CDD to continue their contract with the USDA to mitigate the Vultures. Residents from Stonebridge and Woodbridge voiced concerns over the value of their homes, damage to roofs and lanai screens, and intimidation by the birds. District Counsel Erin McCormick confirmed that she had received a new agreement from the USDA, consistent with the previous terms. Supervisor Chris Barrett reiterated his comments from previous meetings, stating that it did not make financial sense to pay $5,000 every year and made a motion to agree to the new contract but with Stonebridge and Woodbridge absorbing the cost.
Rick Goldstein, Woodbridge HOA President, pushed back, explaining that residents already had additional costs for the repairs to their property and that the Supervisors should be looking at the issue in the longer term. After further discussion on the effectiveness of mitigation, Barrett’s motion was approved 3 to 2 with Supervisor Reggie Gillis and CDD Chair Matt Lewis dissenting. Barrett encouraged the residents in attendance to look at the suggested deterrents on the USDA website. Lewis shared with the board that he had been approached prior to the meeting by Goldstein, who also chairs the Government Affairs Committee, regarding the ongoing vulture issue. The GAC wanted to establish a task force to meet with the USDA to ascertain what additional modifications could be made to deter the birds from homes. Lewis agreed to be the CDD representative on the task force.
Field Manager Doug Mays kicked off his report by suggesting to the Board that the vultures be handled “in house.” McCormick explained that the issue can draw public attention and the CDD would not want to be victim of a perception problem when dealing with this federally protected species. Barrett agreed that it was their responsibility to protect the staff and their reputation. Lewis did agree to look into Mays’ suggestion at the next workshop.
Before moving on from audience comments, a resident from Woodbridge asked the Board if they knew anything about a proposed crosswalk linking the Town Center to the elementary school. Lewis confirmed that a small number of residents in West Park Village asked the County to establish a crosswalk from Tijuana Flats to Westchase Elementary School. Goldstein confirmed that the WCA’s formal position was to oppose the project. Lewis agreed that he did not like the thought of an additional crossing that would cause even more traffic on that stretch of Linebaugh, and the majority of the Board members were in agreement with the WCA. In the end, the CDD Board agreed to follow the matter closely, but declined to take an official stance on the issue as it had just been brought to their attention.
District Manager Andy Mendenhall confirmed that the new RFP for a general contractor to handle the West Park Village improvement project would be advertised on January 3, with a due date of February 5. Barrett asked Mendenhall to be proactive in looking at different ways to advertise the work. Mendenhall reassured the board that finding a general contractor should be easier than attracting contractors piecemeal.
Mendenhall was pleased to report that the resumes he had received for the Field Manager role were an improvement on the first round. He was hopeful to have four candidates for the Board to interview and went on to suggest that the Board consider people who can, “improve on the job.” In other words, they should not expect to employ somebody with the same level of knowledge and experience as Mays.
During her report, McCormick explained that work on the cell tower was currently on hold whilst Vertex worked with Florida Gas Transmission. Alan Ruiz of Vertex did not believe that approval by the FGT was necessary but nevertheless they are trying to accommodate their requests. The delay could lead to the project exceeding the company’s allotted 120-day time frame. Lewis suggested the Board forgive this, as it is out of Vertex’s control.
The meeting concluded with Office Manager Sonny White reminding the board that County Traffic Management would be erecting 56 additional No Parking signs and striping curbs in West Park Village to accommodate the new fire trucks that need a bigger radius to turn.
Editor’s Note: Following the meeting, it was brought to WOW’s attention that the WCA had not in fact taken a formal stance on the proposed crosswalk. During their Dec. 14 meeting, the WCA Board agreed to table the matter to allow the CDD time to discuss the issue.