Lakewood Ranch Herald

Lakewood Ranch's Central Park community elects board of directors to its homeowners association

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The newly elected Central Park Board is R.C. Bartley, Barry Belczyk, Harry Benas, Ernie Corl, Beth Crawford, Joel Kroon and Susan Scott.

Homeowners of Lakewood Ranch's Central Park, a Neal Communities neighborhood, elected a resident-controlled board of directors to lead its homeowners association.

After voting conducted by mail-in ballot and in person during a special meeting Tuesday, the seven board members, who represent most of the six community neighborhoods, will take over from three Neal appointees. The transition is a state mandate now that 90 percent of all development in the Stewardship District of Lakewood Ranch have been sold to individual homeowners.

The board will serve six months until an annual meeting is held in November, at which time the board members can be re-elected.

About 300 of the 826 lots in Central Park submitted ballots, according to the community's management company, C&S Community Management Services Inc. of Bradenton. There are only about 42 lots left to sell before build-out is completed, a Neal Communities spokesman said. Voting was conducted via one vote per lot, and Neal was allowed to have one vote for each undeveloped lot.

Crawford, who in 2013 moved to the Claremont Park neighborhood of Central Park from Washington, D.C., said he is intent on making contributions as a founding resident board member. Employed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Crawford said she has written a priority plan for the community, which she will present to the board for consideration, including such items as improved communications with residents, to making sure that Neal completes and pays for what it promised the homeowners.

"We need more information posted for our community on our website, which needs to be more user-friendly, and it needs to include more resident concerns," Crawford said following the election.

"We also need to take a fresh look at the covenants: We have a lot of residents expressing displeasure and angst about things not allowed in our community. Some are benign but we need to have covenants that protect the beauty of the community, yet allows for individualism."

Enforcement of the community rules was a sentiment echoed by new board member Belczyk, who moved to the Brickell neighborhood of Central Park from Pittsburgh, Pa., in 2011, where he worked as an education administrator and also served on a school board as vice president.

Belcyzk, who said the key to enforcement is an enlightened community, added that he also is concerned about HOA fee delinquencies, which currently amount to $50,000.

"The rules aren't the problem," he said, "it's the individuals who feel like they're exemptions and want to do something different."

The Central Park board of directors will hold its first meeting in coming weeks to elect officers for the positions of president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. The newly elected board members will also be required to complete a state-mandated, two-hour certification class required by Florida law.

Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.

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