TECO Backtracks on Sale of Land Parcel to CDD; Cell Phone Tower Builder Submits Lease for Second Site

While only 45 minutes long, the Oct. 6 Westchase CDD meeting saw some significant announcements.

Opening the meeting was CDD Engineer Stephen Brletic, who updated supervisors on recent SWTMD pond inspections and stated that a crew was going to come out to survey land that TECO suggested last month they would be willing to sell to the district. That parcel, along the north-south powerlines near Westchase Elementary, would be key to providing resident access to a district-owned land parcel between Stonebridge and The Vineyards and behind the large lake on Linebaugh Avenue. For months supervisors have discussed turning it into a community garden where residents could plant plots.

The parcel outlined in red, owned by the CDD, is posing an access challenge for the district. The north-south corridor on the parcel’s west side is owned by TECO and represented the best chance of accessing it.

CDD Engineer Erin McCormick, however, cautioned Brletic not to schedule the survey. She stated that the district’s request that TECO donate the land instead of sell it had been submitted to higher ups, who informed her that TECO was ultimately not willing to sell the parcel at all. She instead encouraged supervisors and staff to finalize the previously negotiated easement across the TECO land that will solely allow staff to access and maintain the district-owned parcel. The TECO decision, however, ultimately restricts residents from accessing the land. She added that TECO’s insurance requirement for the staff maintenance easement, however, could not be accommodated by the district’s insurance company and TECO is reviewing the district’s insurance coverage response.

McCormick also informed supervisors that the Glencliff Park cell tower agreement was waiting expected final approval from Hillsborough County, which holds an interest in that park. She added, however, that the company slated to build the tower, Vertex, contacted her with hopes of leasing a second parcel of district-owned land behind the Maureen Gauzza Library for a second tower. “It’s essentially the same lease agreement we’ve agreed to at Glencliff Park,” she stated. As the county has no interest in that parcel, the district could elect to move on that lease quickly. CDD Chair Jim Mills asked her to finalize that agreement with Vertex and bring it back for board consideration.

Closing major action, Field Manager Doug Mays stated he had received a request from residents of Woodbridge that the district consider replacing the aging oleander privacy hedge along the Montague Street and Westchase Drive fence. Supervisor Forrest Baumhover later said he had contacted Mays on behalf of the residents. Detailing the age and the continuous complaints Bridges residents have made about the oleander over the years, Mays stated he was going to seek bids for the replacement of the entire CDD-owned oleander privacy hedges along Westchase Drive and Montague Street in The Bridges. He stated he intended to replace it with viburnum, a faster-growing and denser hedge.

In other actions:

Field Supervisor Doug Mays stated staff is working on getting bids and ideas from vendors to clean out a portion of Double Branch Creek that currently floods a Bennington street in hopes of increasing its flow.

Supervisors unanimously approved renewal of their annual membership in Florida association of CDDs at a cost of $3,000.

District Manager Andy Mendenhall stated that Florida’s governor might require districts to resume in-person meetings in November. With the November CDD meeting on Nov. 3, supervisors initially expressed interest in meeting in the larger Westchase Swim and Tennis Center activity room rather than in the smaller WCA Office meeting space. With the realization the swim and tennis center will be used as a voting precinct on Nov. 3, Mendenhall stated he would explore the possibility of meeting at the Westchase Golf Course and, if impossible, rescheduling the meeting for Nov. 10.

Field Supervisor Mays said the pond fountain maintenance company recently installed pink filters on the pond lights, for October Breast Cancer Awareness, but added they did not look very pink. He said staff was still finalizing the contract to convert the fountain lights to colored LEDs.

Supervisors reiterated the district position to follow Hillsborough County openings regarding the community’s basketball courts and park party pavilions, which continue to be closed.

Supervisor Greg Chesney, who previously announced he was working on a plan to rehabilitate the West Park Village fountain and bell tower area, stated it was unlikely he would present before the new year. He added, however, that CDD staff was working on installing artificial snow machines in the area for the upcoming holiday season and would likely have proposals for them at November’s meeting.

Supervisors adjourned at 4:48 p.m.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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