Residents object to closing Lakewood Ranch gate

dgraham@bradenton.comMay 15, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Residents objected to closing the Balmoral gate house at Tuesday's joint meeting of three country club districts.

The district that controls the gate, District 6, wants to discontinue staffing the gate as early as 2014. The district cites personnel costs, the benefits of reduced traffic and increased safety as reasons for closing the gate.

The gate would only be usable by residents with transponders, which must be purchased. The gate would not be usable for resident guests or vendors such as lawn services.

The boards of District 2, serving Country Club and Edgewater, and District 5, serving Country Club, planned to give supervisors and the public a chance to speak before the District 6 board, serving Country Club West, votes on the gate closing at 9 a.m. Thursday at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

Nearly 50 residents attended the Tuesday meeting, but only two came from District 2 and one from District 5.

Steve Kulp of Edenmore opposed any change to Balmoral gate house. He objected to driving what he estimated would be 18 extra miles for people to enter through the Legacy subdivision gate, which would be the only gate staffed by guards.

"If you bought a house near a busy gate, buyer beware," said Edenmore res

ident Craig Dawson, who also favors keeping the gate staffed.

There was no direct response from any District 6 board members.

District 6 residents said they were unaware of the potential closure because they had not had specific notice of the meetings.

"We wish you all could vote on this," Dawson said to Alan Silverglat, District 5 supervisor.

Silverglat said residents are specifically represented by the board elected by neighborhood vote so only District 6 determines the gate operations because the gate is physically in District 6.

Silverglat asked District 6 Chairman Robert Burstein if the board's "minds were made up" or if any alternatives to closure offer potential solutions.

"It sounds like the District 6 board has made up their mind and is not open to suggestions. I hope that is not the case," Silverglat said after the meeting.

"We had actually given them about 10 different options for cost sharing Monday," said Eva Rey, executive director. "From here, the request from Mr. Burnstein was to sit down with Mr. (Peter) Bokach, District 2 chairman, and Mr. (Tom) Bishop, District 5 chairman, to see if there are any common grounds and to see if there are any proposals to go forward."

Options include allocating the cost of operating the gates by equal shares per district or by household per district.

All three boards will meet again at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7097, or twitter @DeeGrahamBH.

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