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East County Wednesday, Apr. 1, 2020 3 months ago

Some pool closures cause frustration in Manatee County

Some residents irked with HOAs' decisions to shut down neighborhood amenities.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Tara Preserve resident Debbie Tyo uses the community pool in Tara Preserve every day to help ease the pain in her back. The more active she stays, the less pain she feels.

However, the pain is building.

On March 16, the Tara Community Development District closed Tara Preserve’s pool, amenity center and racket courts.

“I understood [why they closed it],” Tyo said. “I thought, fine. For the couple weeks, most things are going to be fine. But now it’s impinging on my ability to function.”

Tyo is hoping the CDD will consider making an exception for residents like herself who need to swim because of medical conditions. She said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has no warnings against swimming, and she suggests the district remove patio chairs and tables, so people don’t congregate around the pool.

Tara CDD Supervisor Darby Connor said the district’s decision to close its amenities came as a result of a recommendation from its insurance provider. All district amenities were closed to the public, and all district events were canceled. New reservations also have been suspended.

“We did indoor and outdoor [closures] as recommended by our attorney and insurance,” Connor said. “The CDC has recommended CDDs close.”

Connor said there have been a few angry residents, but most, including Tyo, have been understanding even if they are frustrated.

Neighborhoods throughout the Lakewood Ranch area are handling closure of amenities and offerings due to the coronavirus differently. Many have closed clubhouses and other gathering spots to prevent people from gathering in groups larger than 10, as advised by the CDC.

Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, a longtime hub for Lakewood Ranch clubs and meetings, closed to the public March 16 but was available for election voting March 17. Lakewood Ranch community development district-owned parks, including Greenbrook Adventure Park and Summerfield Community Park, have also closed.

“We’re not out there sanitizing extra or anything, so we don’t want people to think we’re guaranteeing it’s safe,” said Anne Ross, who oversees Town Hall and Lakewood Ranch Community Development Districts 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6. “It’s just out of abundance of caution. We haven’t gotten complaints. It’s use at own risk.”

The Lakewood Ranch Stewardship District also closed Bob Gardner Community and Patton Park parks as of March 24. Lakewood Ranch North, operated by Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, also is closed for now.

At The Lake Club, all amenities except for the tennis center were closed starting March 18. General Manager Brad Jeffers said the tennis center remains open but is advising players to stay at least 6 feet apart.

“Presently, we do not have a firm reopening date,” Jeffers said in an email. “As long as players continue to practice safe distancing, we will keep it open. We have canceled all of our lifestyle/social events until further notice.”

Ross said Town Hall has shifted to virtual meetings for the homeowners association boards the meet there. CDD meetings, which must comply with Florida’s open records and Sunshine laws, will be virtual in April. Ross said staff is working on creating a way on the website for the public to participate in the meeting.

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