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CDD Board Opens Playgrounds; Discusses Access to Landlocked Parcel

At their Sept. 1 monthly meeting Westchase CDD supervisors discussed access to a landlocked parcel and approved several projects, including $25,000 to convert two lake fountains’ lights to LED colored ones.

CDD Attorney Erin McCormick opened the meeting by stating she had spoken with a TECO represented who suggested the company would consider a district purchase offer for a narrow corridor of land running beneath the TECO high-powered lines beside Westchase Elementary. With the corridor, the district could construct a road allowing them to access a currently landlocked parcel sitting south of Promise Lane and lying between Stonebridge and The Vineyards behind the large lake adjacent to the school.

The parcel, purchased a few years ago by the district to keep it from being developed, has been discussed as the site of a possible district nursery and community garden.

As part of the purchase, TECO would require a road to be constructed down its length, at an estimated cost of $100,000, that could support its largest line trucks. That road, however, could be used by staff and residents to access the district parcel. Road access, McCormick cautioned, would also require the Hillsborough School District to allow the district to use a short portion of Westchase Elementary’s entrance driveway to its faculty parking lot. McCormick said the TECO representative stated the company would likely expect a purchase price of 10-15 percent above its market value. Given its low assessed value, supervisors discussed a purchase price of around $5,000 but ultimately asked McCormick to request TECO donate the land to the district as a community enhancement. Supervisors also unanimously approved a survey of the property.

Dvorak also briefly discussed road flooding on Rubury Place in Bennington from an adjacent creek. “The creek is staging up higher and higher every year.” He added, “My recommendation is to do some clearing of the underbrush in that area.”

He committed to following up with district staff on the issue.

McCormick stated that district staff and Davey, the district’s landscaper, made some minor changes to the landscaping contract. Davey won a competitive bid for a new three-year contract last month. Supervisors unanimously approved the amended contract, which goes into effect Nov. 1.

Supervisors also returned to their August decision to accept a $15,000 price for the conversion of fountain lights in the ponds across from Westchase Elementary and the pond adjacent to the Countrway Boulevard fire station. With the colored LED light project, which arose from a neighborhood’s request the fountains be turned pink in October for breast cancer awareness, the district could change the fountain light colors without hiring a company to change the light filters. Office Manager Sonny Whyte stated that when she returned to the vendor, from whom she had previously gotten a verbal estimate, the vendor stated the actual price would be twice what he originally suggested. Whyte, who acknowledged she had reassured the vendor that she wouldn’t hold him to the price as he offered it while driving, said she asked him to come back with a lower quote. Supervisors discussed at length the new quote of $14,961 for the fountain along Linebaugh and $10,597 for the one along Countryway. Ultimately supervisors voted in favor of the conversion as it will allow them to convert the light colors with a computer controller, saving the district from paying the $400 fee for the contractor to come out and change the light colors.

Field Manager Doug Mays stated he had received a number of requests from residents for additional fountains in Westchase ponds, with the most recent coming from Radcliffe. Staff discussed their installation and maintenance costs, with Whyte stating that the electricity costs for the Linebaugh fountain alone totals $600 monthly. “They are very costly to power,” she stated. Supervisors declined to take action on the requests.

Closing the meeting, staff stated that they had reopened Baybridge and Glencliff Park playgrounds after the county announced it was opening playgrounds. Supervisors reiterated they would continue to follow Hillsborough County’s announced COVID-related parks and facilities reopenings, thus the reinstallation of basketball hoops and the acceptance of park pavilion reservations would occur when the county opens its courts and allows events in parks. Supervisors asked staff to contact the Westchase Community Association to let them know their use of the West Park Village green space for their Movies in the Park, which traditionally begin in October, would be contingent on the county reopening its parks to events.

Supervisors closed by praising Mays and Whyte for their exceptional work performance over the past fiscal year.
In other actions:
After discussing McCormick’s suggested procedures for employees regarding COVID-19 reporting, quarantining and sick leave, supervisors approved it unanimously.
Supervisors unanimously approved the annual healthcare renewal for employees, which saw an 8.9 percent increase.

District Manager Andy Mendenhall went over employee reviews, which he stated were superior. “I do not get any angry or upset calls about Doug or about staff. That speaks volumes about him and Sonny,” he said. Supervisors unanimously approved his recommendation to keep year end bonuses the same as last year’s. Supervisors also approved a motion offering managerial staff two percent salary increases and a dollar bump in pay for the other two staffers.

Supervisors approved the repair and replacement of security cameras and recording equipment at Westchase parks for $7,500.

Supervisors also approved a $16,750 contract with A&B Aquatics for the cleanout of a pond in Greencrest that Field Manager Doug Mays described as an eyesore. The cleanout price included the planting of six new cypress trees.

Supervisors approved an $8,800 year-long contract with Anomolous Industries for the continued maintenance and treatment of a large lake bordered by Sturbridge, Stonebridge and Westlake Townhomes. The lake, previously flagged as in poor health, had caused swarms of midge flies, which staff said were no longer a problem.

Supervisors adjourned at 6 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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