Neal takes steps to resolve Lakewood Ranch homeowners' construction complaints

srocco@bradenton.comSeptember 18, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- One week after unleashing a litany of complaints about construction in their neighborhood, a group of Central Park residents had nothing negative to say during a follow-up meeting Tuesday night with representatives of developer Neal Communities.

Last week, a Herald inquiry prompted company President Pat Neal to meet with about 20 disgruntled homeowners upset about dust storms that soiled their pools and homes and about litter from construction vehicles tearing through their Longview Lake Park neighborhood. Residents also said they were upset communication with Neal Communities was minimal.

Neal promised to fix the issues and hold weekly meetings until all problems are mitigated.

Randy Olson, land development manager, said Tuesday the silt fences Neal vowed to install to shield homes from dust storms are going in Wednesday.

And to do away with dust storms all together, Neal said he would put down grass as soon as possible.

"On Monday we're going to bring a drill seeder out, and then we're going to bring fertilizer behind it, so we can get a real quick response," Olson told the group of about 20 homeowners. The seed should sprout by Oct. 1.

"I'm going to seed everything that's brown out there. If it's brown, it's getting seeded," Olson said of the massive dirt field that sits next to Longview Lake Park.

Paving Longview Lake Circle, the unfinished road next to the dirt field, is set for Oct. 3, Olson said.

"We're sorry about the dust," Neal

said. "I think that you can see Randy is conscientious and we will do all that we can do."

To address the problem of construction workers speeding through neighborhood roads and tossing garbage on lawns, Neal said last week he would impose fines.

"We've told several people ... to slow down and they've been receptive. No problems," said Vinny Cotignola, a builder with Neal Communities.

A separate construction entrance has still not been designated, but an extra employee has been brought on to patrol worker parking habits, conduct, speed and other safety issues.

After Tuesday's meeting, residents said they were satisfied with Neal's commitment to resolving their long-standing issues.

"I was encouraged ... that we got progress reports with dates so that we have something measurable to look forward to," said resident Linda Rojack. "I'll be most excited when I see that silt fence go up tomorrow."

Robert Weigert, who lives across from Rojack, was equally impressed.

"(Neal) is a reputable person and his reputation is that he can take care of things and he does," Weigert said.

"When there's problems, we address them -- period," Neal said. "We missed it in the communication -- there's no doubt about that. We're going to take care of it."

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

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