Residents urged to step their game up at Balmoral Gate security

jajones1@bradenton.comDecember 17, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- A district supervisor proposed a 10-point program Monday to improve security at Balmoral Gate, which offers entry to Country Club West village off Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.

The proposal continues a nearly year-long discussion about security and operation of the Balmoral Gate.

Resident perception is gate security is lax, District Supervisor Jim Hill said at the Community Development District 6 agenda workshop meeting.

In the last three weeks, Hill said he received 13 comments from residents and property owners about gate security.

A key component of Hill's proposal would send gate security information package to residents on how to use and manage data generated by visitors passing through Balmoral gate.

Tom Willson, Country Club West resident, elaborated on the gate data being collected.

"I discovered that residents could log into the system, and I didn't find it onerous to use at all," Willson said.

Residents can set the system

up to send notifications when they have visitors at the gate, and can provide the guard with instructions about the visitors, Willson said.

"I went through a year's worth of data of people visiting me," he said, noting he found gaps in logging some visitors.

Willson urged procedures be changed to ensure guards collect more information about visitors, including recording vehicle descriptions and asking to see identification.

But he also urged residents to become more active in using the gate security system.

"For a guard to do their job, it assumes the residents are participating," Willson said.

Roads into Country Club West were built with public money and are open to the public, including through Balmoral Gate.

Protocol mandates public access, but allows cameras at the gate to photograph drivers and license plate. It also allows guards to ask visitors where they are going.

Chairman Robert Burstein said he is concerned about gate security causing traffic to back up into Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, raising the risk of accidents.

"We need to be very careful about this," Burstein said.

Gate guards need latitude to expedite traffic through Balmoral Gate if it starts to back up onto Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, he said.

Earlier this year, District 6 supervisors proposed closing Balmoral Gate due to financial and security concerns. But community development district 2, serving Country Club and Edgewater, and District 5, serving Country Club, came up with thousands of dollars to keep the gate open.

In other business Monday, supervisors:

• Authorized operations director Ryan Heise to replace passive solar lighting in the Silverwood neighborhood preserve. Residents complained the area was dark and the lights have been out for some time.

• Heise reported carp are being ordered by January to stock all Lakewood Ranch lakes, including 23 in Country Club West. Carp are used to control algae and submerged vegetation.

• Steve Zielinski, chief financial officer, reported market conditions are not favorable to refinancing bonds for districts 4 and 6 at this time.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1

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