WCA Board Revisits Video Recording Policy at April Meeting

The April Westchase Community Association board meeting opened with President Shawn Yesner addressing the issue of suspending facility use rights and voting rights for homeowners who are more than 90 days delinquent in their assessments and/or fees owed to the association in 2024. Board Member Rick Goldstein made motions to suspend both members’ use rights and voting rights until debts are paid in full, and the two motions passed unanimously. Board Member Michele DelSordo was absent.

Yesner moved on to old business and explained that the video recording of WCA and Voting Members meetings was on the agenda again because a resident (who is also a sitting VM) recorded the last meeting and shared it with the residents of his neighborhood without the express permission of the board. This action violated a rule that the board adopted in 2013 governing the recording of meetings, he added.

The board has to decide which of three options to pursue, Yesner continued. The board could reach out to legal counsel and tell them to take action against the resident for violating the board’s policy; vote to eliminate the rule; or provide the resident with express permission to share video recordings of the meeting with neighborhood residents.

Board Member Jack Maurer, who was unable to attend the most recent WCA board meeting, said he requested a copy of the recording and found it beneficial as a way to catch up on content that he had missed. He said he understood that WCA guidelines prohibited sharing without express permission, but asked what state law dictated.

Florida statute allows the association to provide reasonable restrictions upon the recording of meetings, replied Yesner. Board Member Terry Boyd said that the issue was not whether sharing the video was valuable, but whether a resident had violated an existing rule. Yesner agreed.

“We restrict board meetings and VM meetings to residents. I wonder if it would be a reasonable restriction to say (recordings of meetings) can only be disseminated to residents,” shared Yesner. “I’m conflicted because, like you said, Terry, I don’t think it’s whether the rule is valid or can be challenged. The very basic issue is that we have a resident in violation of the rule. Do we want to enforce the rule, change the rule, or eliminate the rule?”

Boyd expressed concern that if no action were taken, it would create a slippery slope. Any resident could look at any rule and simply decide not to follow it, he said. Board Member Michiel Oostenbrink said that sharing the video was beneficial to community members and he felt that it was coming from a good place. He wanted to confirm what, exactly, the relevant state law said before acting, he added.

Yesner said he didn’t look at which Florida statute was in place in 2013 when the board policy was created. Boyd recommended handing the issue to legal counsel. Board Member Jim Brinker suggested clarifying the rule, and Maurer moved to change the guideline to allow dissemination to the community. Oostenbrink seconded the motion. Joe Odda, who was in the audience, suggested that they change the word “community” to “members” to be more specific, and Maurer agreed. His amended motion passed unanimously.

Oostenbrink opened his treasurer’s report by sharing that GPI’s new financial software went live on April 1. He expressed concern that the association’s financial history would not all be imported into the new system, specifically as it pertained to violations. Association Manager Debbie Sainz told him that GPI would continue to have access to the old system to bridge this gap.

The Telecom pole removal project is moving forward, said Government Affairs Committee Chairperson Goldstein. He recently met with county officials and provided them with a list of questions regarding the proposed crosswalk on Linebaugh Avenue and was awaiting their answers, he added.

A big safety issue is the West Park Village safety mitigation, Goldstein continued. When the stripes are added to the streets in the neighborhood, he wants Hillsborough County sheriffs to tow offenders right away to ensure that emergency vehicles have the access they need. Florida State Representative Karen Gonzalez Pittman will speak at the May VMs meeting, and he’s working to arrange for 2024-25 speakers, he said.

There are two to three openings on the Modifications Committee, and terms begin in June. Interested candidates should reach out to ????.

The Swim and Tennis Committee is hard at work, but members asked whether they could provide a more thorough report next month, said Yesner. Boyd interjected to say that a resident had sent him the tennis and pickleball signups recently. While the pickleball courts are typically completely full, a few of the tennis courts appear to be consistently available, he stated.

Brinker said that the WCA had just added six full pickleball courts last year, and he didn’t think they wanted to add more so soon. Yesner said perhaps the association could consider making some of the tennis courts dual use, which they had done prior to converting the existing pickleball courts. Goldstein mentioned that Westchase is a member of the U.S. Tennis Association, and they needed to be certain that they had enough tennis courts in place for any tournaments that might be held.

Facilities Manager Dwight Kilgore said that there are some existing disparities in policies and practices that enable a handful of residents to monopolize more court time than is fair. The committee plans to review the rules in November in an effort to make the process more equitable, he added.

Maurer, chair of the Renovations Committee, said that one of his committee members had left and two others are so heavily involved with the RFP Committee that he felt the need to appoint two new members. He moved to add Pam Wilcox and Greg James, both of whom already serve on the Swim and Tennis Committee, to his committee. Brinker seconded his motion.

Boyd told Maurer he thought it would create a better sense of checks and balances to have members of the Renovations Committee who didn’t already serve on the S&T Committee.

“We lean on you and your expertise, but we’re still a committee and sometimes it’s not the committee’s voice that’s the strongest; it’s Jack’s voice that’s the strongest,” stated Boyd. “I think if we bring more lay people on, they can fall victim to the thought process of our resident expert.”

“That’s the whole point of having people who are very impassioned about the area on the committee,” responded Maurer. “I am trying to find other people to comment. I have no intention of leading the pack in any way.”

All board members present voted in favor of Maurer’s motion.

Kilgore said a resident had reached out to ask whether she could rent the activity room at the Countryway pool for a total of 21 hours starting in August as a function of her for-profit wellness business. Brinker moved to deny the resident’s request and Goldstein seconded it. Yesner said that typically the WCA doesn’t want for-profit companies making money through the use of community facilities. Brinker’s motion passed unanimously.

Josh Hernandez, manager of the local PDQ store, attended the March WCA board meeting to discuss some sort of partnership regarding the association’s summer camp. Kilgore met with him following the meeting to discuss the specifics and asked board members whether it would be acceptable for PDQ to hang a banner in exchange for a cash donation.

Yesner asked how the WCA would determine which companies or organizations would be permitted to put banners up. Boyd said the board should consider creating a policy governing which for-profit or other private companies could contribute to the WCA and what they could get in return for their support, as opposed to approving companies haphazardly.

Kilgore said that the WCA could charge whatever they want for a banner and set any time period that they deem to be appropriate. The association wouldn’t want to ruin the aesthetic of existing facilities or permit anything religious or political in nature, he added. Brinker said he thought that Hernandez’s presentation was about providing lunch to campers, and moved that the PDQ logo could be placed on an existing camp banner in exchange for donating lunch on Fridays. Board members voted unanimously in favor of his motion.

Brinker then moved on to the business of board-proposed fines and appeals. A resident did not make a modification request for a new roof and said they want their fines forgiven because they didn’t know that such a request was necessary, he said. Audience member Nancy Sells said that every homeowner receives a welcome letter stating that Westchase is a deed-restricted community, and claimed that they did know. Goldstein stated that ignorance of the rules in not an excuse. Brinker made a motion to approve the fines on all violations as presented, and his motion passed unanimously.

Brinker said he’d like to extend Mary Griffin’s and Steve Splaine’s terms on the WOW Board of Directors for two more years. He added that he wanted to appoint Greg James to replace Joaquin Arrillaga, who resigned from the board.

Yesner said there was a request from a homeowner to close their hurricane shutters and keep them closed while they leave the country for an undetermined period of time. Sainz said the board had agreed to a similar exception in the past, and the board voted unanimously to allow the homeowners to do so.

Board members need to consider whether they want to insert a penalty clause into the contracts for repairing and resurfacing the pool deck, said Yesner. Maurer asked about the status of the repairs. Sainz said that all of the parties involved were going to meet with each other to determine the best way to proceed.

The pool slide is rusting and needs repair, and Kilgore said he is waiting to receive a quote for the work. Goldstein asked whether it would make more sense to replace the slide. Brinker asked Oostenbrink what the lifespan of the slide was. It was put in place in 2013 and has a 15-year lifespan, replied Oostenbrink. The board agreed to revisit the issue after Kilgore received a proposal for repairs.

Pool Patrol will be draining and resurfacing the pool and dropped off tile samples for board members to review, said Boyd. Maurer asked whether it was possible to hire a design architect to make sure that everything looks cohesive, and Yesner agreed to put it on next month’s agenda.

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