Construction workers slowly bring improvements to Willowbrook neighborhood

srocco@bradenton.comJuly 31, 2013 

MANATEE -- When Laura Lovejoy moved to Willowbrook in 2007, she envisioned a relaxing life in a cozy townhome tucked inside a pretty neighborhood just beyond Lakewood Ranch.

But the reality has been much different. Instead of peace and quiet, Lovejoy, a 31-year-old communications consultant who works from home, is burdened by the jagged sound of power drills, hammers and the beeeep-beeeep-beeeep of big trucks backing up outside her home on White Sage Loop.

Workers in hard hats saturate the development, while scaffolding and giant tarps blanket a handful of buildings.

The flurry began after dozens of Willowbrook residents pushed for repairs on their townhomes when they found water intrusion, mold and defective balconies among other signs of shoddy construction. KB Home, the Willowbrook condominium subdivision developer, agreed to pay for repairs and construction started in January.

But the work is taking time, and not all residents are pleased.

"I'm happy with my home, but I'm not happy with the default of having hundreds of workers here and dumpsters around the place," Lovejoy said.

Manatee County's Building and Development Services Department is issuing permits for construction in Willowbrook, and all the inspection reports are being audited, said John Barnott, department director.

The first building is complete and additional buildings are going through the repair protocol, KB Home spokeswoman Cara Kane said.

But residents may not see the end to construction any time soon.

"We do not have an anticipated completion date," Kane said.

Sal Ventimiglia, president of Dueall Construction, the contractor assigned to the project, said the second and third buildings should be done in three to four weeks.

"Our goal is to start one building a week," Ventimiglia said. "But there might be a period when we come across five really bad buildings and we may have to adjust our start dates."

Ventimiglia said he understands residents' frustration with the drawn-out construction, but emphasizes that he will not sacrifice quality for time.

"We just want to do everything right and move efficiently. As long as we do the work right, that's the main focus," he said. "If we have to slow it down, we slow it down."

State Sen. Bill Galvano, who became involved with the problems at Willowbrook earlier this year, says he ill continue to keep tabs on the progress.

"It has taken a while, but I think it is getting incrementally better," Galvano said. "I have to believe that the involvement of myself and my office has kept things moving in the right direction."

For residents like Lovejoy, regaining a silent and serene home can't come soon enough.

"All of this construction really affects quality of life," she said.

Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.

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