This past Tuesday was another meeting of the West Villages Improvement District Supervisory Board. Meetings are now held at the IslandWalk Event Center, which has certainly increased public attendance. To open, the District Manager, Todd Wodraska, introduced himself and clarified to those in attendance that these meetings are for the board to conduct business. Basically, these are business meetings which the public is invited to observe and make comment.
When the forum was opened for public to make comment regarding items not on the agenda, naturally, the first item to come up was asking about a traffic light at the community entrances. It was explained that this is not a WVID ability or responsibility. The responsibility for installation lies with the developers (Lennar and Pulte), and they are not holding back either. They need the FDOT to give them the 'go ahead' in order to begin the work. The FDOT has not approved the installation of the traffic light as the previously conducted warrant study did not meet criteria to allow for a traffic light. Warrants need to be in place before FDOT will approve. Unfortunately, a severe enough accident will trigger automatic warrants, but until that time, it doesn't meet their criteria.
With that said, to push the issue forward trying in trying to avoid a tragedy, it is recommended that all residents contact the sector FDOT office and/or our local State Representative's office. Contact them once, or even daily if you have time, and share the information to get your neighbors to do the same!
FDOT website says that they respond to public requests in this area..."The District Traffic Operations Offices respond to written letters from the public, civic organizations, businesses, etc. requesting the need for a traffic signal to be installed or modified" (Website Link). Maybe we should flood them with letters or a petition? Our DOT district contact Information:
1. District 1 Secretary, Billy Hattaway, 801 N. Broadway Ave. , Bartow, FL 33830-3809, Phone: (863) 519-2300
PETITION link Change.org Petition
I have shared this information here, Facebook, Nextdoor, and asked the two community associations to forward to residents as well. Let's together push to get this done. There is nothing more that can be done by our district or the developers until FDOT says ok.
Back to the meeting notes...
A question was also asked about the expansion of River Road. The district funded West Villages Parkway in order to alleviate some of the congestion. (from another meeting...The County needs funding to move forward, and their latest grant request was denied. We are waiting on the County for that.)
The minutes of the last meeting were approved with a noted typo to be changed, then they delved into the regular business items on the agenda. The first item was an agreement for lease between the WVID and Main Street Ranch Lands. The offices moved from a trailer on the property to Thomas Ranch Welcome Center which does not provide the same storage space. So, the new office and keeping a storage space required a new lease agreement amounting to $14000 per year.
The district then brought up consideration of application for a new unit of development. This is to be 900 new homes in the Northeast section of the district, along West Villages Parkway North of US41. The development partners are petitioning to issue bonds for development at this time. This will require more frequent meetings for a while to organize the finance aspect. The permits have already been obtained and clearing has begun for this project.
The board accepted two appraisals each for two parcels of land to be acquired by the district. The first is a 60 acre tract that is to be later donated as a site for a school. The appraisals came back at $4.5 million by Bass & Associates and $5.4 million from Integra Realty. The second parcel is the SCF access road amounting to about 5 acres. The appraisals were $273k by Bass and $710k by Integra. Some residents at the meeting questioned the rationale for and necessity of purchasing the privately owned tract of the SCF access road. The district engineer said that it is uncommon for a district public access road to remain privately owned.
The sod replacement project is almost wrapped up now. A couple of cars ran off the road which caused additional repairs to be required. The Valley Crest bill is still outstanding.
Request was made to authorize a topo study in order to continue sidewalks along 41 on both sides.
The emergency pump repair for irrigation is complete and went smoothly. It was explained that the district runs short on irrigation water every dry season. A new pump was put in that is sunk lower to increase utilization ability from the irrigation lake behind the welcome sign.
Crepe myrtles are being cut back (for the first time ever), and you could hear collective approval and relief from many of those in attendance. They are working with Valley Crest on winter trimming. And, the pedestrian node on WV Pkwy should be complete by the next meeting.
The next scheduled meeting is March 8th at 11am.