The June 11 Voting Members meeting opened with Deb Guerino (Alternate, Villas of WPV) discussing the GAC’s Transportation Survey.
The survey will be posted July 1 on the Westchase Neighborhood News Facebook page and will appear in World of Westchase and have a monitored email for responses. The survey’s purpose is to gather information about residents’ transportation wants and needs so the GAC can give those preferences to Hillsborough County and regional transportation groups. The survey’s nine questions will further understanding of how people use transportation.
Mike Ryan, Deputy Emergency Manager for the Hillsborough County Office of Emergency Management then addressed the group about hurricane preparation. He spoke about the importance of understanding forecast methodology, the importance of communication with family and understanding the dangers of windborne debris.
He also cautioned that the population of Hillsborough County is about 1.3 million people but it only has about 3,000 emergency personnel, so they can’t possibly help everyone. Additionally, fire rescue personnel will not go out when winds are above 40 miles per hour.
Wanda Sloan of Hillsborough County’s Neighborhood Relations then addressed VMs. Sloan explained the importance of knowing neighbors, particularly if one needs a special needs shelter—for example, someone who sleeps with a CPAC, needs transportation or lives alone. She also recommended people put all their important information like driver’s license, insurance policies, social security numbers, doctor’s information and family’s information on a password protected thumb drive. She cautioned people with pets that there are fewer shelters that take pets—and they require information including pets’ current shots and licenses.
She explained that the next step is for Westchase to determine how the community wants to be organized for storm responses, perhaps by creating a master board, then establishing neighborhood teams and assigning street captains. She said it’s better to have fewer calls coming into 911 or TECO than if each individual calls. She stated the community needs to write its emergency plan and train people, perhaps through a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Neighborhood mini grants are also available to buy things like flashlights and other supplies. Westchase Community Association (WCA) Director Rick Goldstein said that the Government Affairs Committee is already looking into it and Director Joaquin Arrillaga and he are working with the county and will report back to the group.
WCA President Ruben Collazo announced that the Nominating Committee will be working towards the board of director elections in September. Each year, one board member who is not running, is appointed to lead the Nominating Committee and this year it’s Arrillaga. Suggesting that VMs run for board positions, Collazo said, “Over the years I’ve always said that the best board members have been committee and Voting Members.”
Collazo then explained that VM Russ Crooks (Bennington), who is the lead for the Electronic Voting Committee, was unable to attend the meeting but VM Eric Holt (Radcliffe) explained the newly developed proxy for VM elections in December/January. He stated that the committee had tried to simplify and clarify the proxy and increase the integrity of the election process. He said that legal counsel had reviewed it and given its final blessing. The instructions on the new proxy explain that the completed form gets put into a self-addressed envelope provided and either mailed or hand delivered to the WCA office. The bottom of the proxy also asks residents to include their email addresses if they want to opt into a future electronic voting program.
VM Mary Griffin (Single Family Homes of WPV) said, “The biggest change that everyone should pay attention to is that we are not going to be allowed to collect the proxy. The proxy will be sealed in an envelope.”
Many VMs were encouraged to hear that they no longer had to walk their villages to get enough votes to ensure they had quorum. Collazo explained that if a village does not get quorum, the existing VM continues in the role. VM Gerry Pappa (The Greens) said, “I’ve lived in the Greens for 21 years this fall. Prior to my being a VM, Ernie Sylvester, rest his soul, told me that unless you walk The Greens, you won’t get quorum. Quite honestly, I am glad not to have to walk the neighborhood.”
Responding to some recent resident complaints on the Westchase Neighborhood and Westchase Community Chronicles Facebook pages about the pool at West Park Village not being open, Collazo explained that the pool had to be closed for thunder, lightning and biohazards. Collazo also noted that private swim coaches are not allowed. VMs asked for a communication method for closures and Collazo said that was being looked at.
VM Mary Griffin then expressed concern that the association doesn’t have a policy or rules around neighborhood-specific Facebook pages. She noted that the Harbor Links Facebook page has many people on it who don’t live there. Collazo said his neighborhood has a Facebook page, but they do an address verification. Lynn Adamson (The Vineyards) said that they have a page which is maintained by their sub association board. They don’t allow things like public shaming. They do have a general policy and their secretary looked at other pages like the Westchase one and one for Westwood Lakes to help develop posting rules, which they are happy to share. VMs agreed that it was an item that they need to discuss at the next meeting so they can develop general guidelines and determine things like who owns the page, what happens when a new VM is elected and who handles administration.
VM Karen Nelson (Traditional Townhomes of WPV), complained about the vultures that have been hanging around the dumpsters behind the Avenue at Westchase. She said they are getting on the roofs of homes and making a mess. Collazo said he would investigate it and the GAC later announced the county had successfully addressed the issue with the property owner.
VMs adjourned at 8:20 p.m.
By Brenda Bennett