Soaring costs make Balmoral gatehouse closure likely for Country Club West

dgraham@bradenton.comApril 4, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- A $200,000 proposed budget increase to $908,110 has Lakewood Ranch Community Development District 6 leaning strongly toward closing the Balmoral gate house at Country Club West in 2014.

Before deciding, however, the board will consider a report from JAG Engineering this week prioritizing repairs and projects so work and funding can be spread over a period of more than one year.

"We have to examine the report that calls for a lot of things that need repair. Any municipality will put this on a two- or three-year plan. We have to make a decision on the priorities going forward," said District 6 superintendent Richard Williams at Wednesday's budget workshop.

Gate house funding cost $108,681, including $80,798 for staffing, in 2013. Other high-ticket items on the budget include lake maintenance, landscaping, road and street facilities and common area maintenance.

The District 6 Board discussed a possible closing date of Jan. 1. Should it be closed, residents would only have access through an alternate system and public traffic access would be limited to the staffed Legacy Gate.

Legacy Gate, where Legacy Boulevard intersects with University Parkway, is the only public access entrance for District 2, serving Country Club and Edgewater, and District 5, serving Country Club.

This is the first year the District 6 board is entirely citizen run since developer Neal Communities was still building in the subdivision and had board representation until this year.

That accounts for why there are so many transitional changes and unexpected expenses, said Williams.

"If it was defectively designed, we have no recourse on the developer because CCD6 has authorized this

work," Williams said. "It's still CCD6 that built and maintained it. We're still the citizens of it, and wear and tear has occurred over the seven years."

The Manatee County Commission passed the ordinance to create CCD6 May 4, 2004.

District 6 superintendent James Hill independently produced an itemized study of gate house traffic flow and related expenses for both sites.

Lakewood Ranch finance Director Steve Zielinski proposed District 6's share of the cost of Legacy Gate usage would be $34,806, but Hill's proposal differed.

"I would consider helping resolve part of a problem that we may create. I would be willing to budget $3,480, which is 10 percent of the budget, so that we do the best to minimize the impact," Hill said.

The proposal also suggests CCD6's share for 2014 could be 20.21 percent of the Legacy gate house cost, based on the amount of homes within its boundaries. The District 6 budget does not allow for any extra road construction expenses.

"The proposal was well grounded. It's going with deliberate speed. We'll try to work this out with Districts 2 and 5," Williams said.

Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-9411, ext. 7027, or tweet @DeeGrahamBH.

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