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East County Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009 8 years ago

Ranch CDD supervisors whack Wackenhut

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Supervisors of Lakewood Ranch’s community development districts voted Nov. 19 to replace the community’s longtime security provider and use another company after the start on the new year.

CDD 1 and CDD 4 will use Allegiance Security Group at a cost of $28,080 annually.

The company will replace Wackenhut Corp., which has provided roving patrols for the last eight years.
CDD 5 will use US Security Associates to manage the security gates at a cost of $31,100 annually. CDD 2 will share in the cost of the contract.

Both companies likely will begin work in the Ranch Jan. 4.

Ryan Heise, director of operations for Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, said the districts have made changes in the types of coverage they are seeking from security providers, and the decision to change service providers is not directly related to Wackenhut’s performance.

“We wanted to rework our scope of service and we wanted to take in new ideas,” Heise said. “We wanted to see what the competition had to offer.”

Ultimately, the companies being awarded contracts were selected based on three criteria: cost, the quality of service being provided and how well the provider could provide the services requested by each CDD, he said.

Coincidentally at the CDD 1 meeting, Summerfield Place resident Adele Shugol came forward with concerns about vandalism in her neighborhood. Just a few days prior, the sign to Place had been vandalized with nearly 30 baseball-sized welts.

Shugol also said she and neighbors also have been disturbed by the ringing of the doorbell — with no one there — at all hours of the day and night.

“We don’t feel safe in our neighborhood,” Shugol said, adding the incidents with the doorbells may be an attempt by robbers to canvas the area.

Shugol said she hoped the issue would not fall to the wayside when the district changed security companies in January.

“My concern is safety,” Shugol said. “There’s something that has to be done here.”

Even with new security in place, however, CDD supervisors said residents should contact the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office when they notice vandalism or suspicious behavior. Lakewood Ranch Town Hall and even the Ranch’s hired security companies have no authority to make arrests. They can only observe and report.

“I know everyone on this board shares your concerns,” District 1 Chairwoman June Stroup said. “We are in a unique situation in that we are dependent on the county for our security.”

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

• All districts continued their meetings to 8 a.m., Dec. 3, for a joint strategic planning meeting as well as a session to review Florida Sunshine Laws.
• Engineer Michael Kennedy said Sarasota Land Services will be fulfilling its nearly $50,000 contract to repair the lakes that were washed out in the September flooding by early January.
• Officials noted a landscape contractor had missed areas along a shell trail that runs from the State Road 70 entrance of Greenbrook to Lorraine Road. The trail now will be included in the monthly inspection.
• Supervisor Phyllis Troy commented on a lacrosse game at Summerfield Park Nov. 15, at which participants and onlookers parked their cars in the grass along the side of the field and did not pick up their trash.

“The cars parked on the grass, which was newly sodded, and it was covered with trash and beer bottles,” she said. “I take great pride in that park, and I want to keep it that way.”

Troy said if it happens again, she would speak with individuals participating or watching the games because it poses a safety issue, among other considerations.

Supervisors noted alcohol is prohibited on park property.
CDD 2 
• Supervisors declared two pieces of equipment — a high lift and the associated trailer — as surplus and authorized Town Hall staff to make arrangements to sell them. The machines currently are leased, so they would be purchased from the lender and then sold through a public bid or auction process. The estimated value of the equipment is $35,000.
• Supervisors denied a resident request to add street lamps in front of two homes in Mizner Reserve off Milan Terrace, saying the area appeared no darker than similar areas in the community. They did not want to set a precedent of adding streetlights in neighborhoods.

The two homes in question are on opposite sides of Milan Terrace at its intersection with Mizner Reserve Court. The homes face Mizner Reserve Court with their sides facing Milan Terrace. Resident Richard Brown said the homeowners of those residences should not have to pay for lighting they will not use, and the CDD should add lights because the area was proving a safety concern.

• Supervisors voted to approve a one-time assessment of $64.29 to the 56 homeowners in Orchid Island for landscaping improvements.

• Ryan Heise said palm pruning in the community is expected to start Dec. 2.

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