Neighborly offer lifts Lakewood Ranch Country Club gate question

dgraham@bradenton.comJune 12, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The community development districts at odds over access through Balmoral Gate may have reached an agreement to keep the gate open full time.

Community Development District 2, serving Country Club and Edgewater, and District 5, serving Country Club, agreed Thursday to extend an offer to keep Balmoral gate open to traffic 24 hours a day.

The offer gives District 6, serving Country Club West, about $34,000 to staff the gate throughout the night, with the provision District 6 will keep the Balmoral gate open thereafter or refund the money to Districts 2 and 5.

Boards from both districts must vote to approve the offers before they can be submitted to the District 6 board, but supervisors agreed in principle during the Tuesday workshops.

Single representatives from all three districts met to avoid Sunshine Law violations while negotiating issues that led District 6 to end staffing Balmoral gate completely beginning Jan. 1.

Safety, cost and traffic were all identified as problems.

"Collectively, we're trying to buy time to see what we can do to try to advance the community concept," said Thomas Leavey, District 5 secretary. "The idea was, can we throw a carrot out there to try to get them through this one issue with the notion we would all be working toward the longer term."

If accepted by District 6, the offer will cost District 2 about $15,000 and District 5 about $19,000.

After the first year, District 6 would participate along with the two districts in a shared program to fund all gates serving the entire Country Club community.

Alan Silverglat, District 5 supervisor, questions how keeping the gate open all night would improve safety. District 6 supervisor Bob Burstein mentioned "some damage to gates when third shift wasn't there. People would run through."

"There was also some vandalism, and maybe having a person at the gate during third shift would reduce the chances of that happening," said Marty Cohn, District 5 supervisor.

"We have to make an offer. We're just making an

offer," said Bokach. "Not everyone inside District 5 fully understands how our gates work. I would submit that holds true for each one of the districts."

Tom Willson, a resident of Silverwood in District 6, said the contentious gate issue is really a symptom of bigger problem for the whole community.

"We don't have the ability to manage the flow of traffic within the entire community," Willson said.

"We're hoping that with financially sharing all the gates we can keep the Balmoral gate open," Cohn said. "We hope we can resolve this as a neighbors."

Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7024 or tweet @ DeeGrahamBH.

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