Gateway Sun

We could try to list all of the boneheaded behavior we’ve experienced and heard about regarding the Silverlakes HOA and the residents who run the community, but there’s only so much room on the internet.

But once in awhile we come across something that needs to be shared.

And in this case, it’s not because I want to embarrass anybody specific, but because I’m hoping they’ll read this article and reflect.

For that reason I’m leaving names of the people associated with Silverlakes out of the article.

As many of you know, I live in Silverlakes. A few weeks ago I had noticed the littoral plants in the lake that you see upon entering the community had died. Looking around the rest of the lake, from what I could see, all of the littorals were dead.

While monitoring the October 15, 2015 meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the Gateway Services Community Development District I found out why.

This week we had an unfortunate situation in my eyes. Probably in others’ eyes it isn’t as unfortunate,” began District Manager Calvin Teague, adding, “but the littorals around the [lakes in Silverlakes] were eradicated because of pressure placed on Elle [Harris] to do it.”

The pressure Teague is referring to was coming from a vocal Silverlakes resident in particular, and from the entire HOA as well.

Harris is the Natural Resources Supervisor in Gateway.

Chairman Bill Guy wasn’t having any of it. “Number one, if this pressure that you’re talking about is coming from residents we need to reinforce with Elle that she works for you and the Operations Manager, who reports to this Board. [Harris] does not take directions, specifically from one individual resident. Second, this board has voted on at least two occasions that we are going to maintain a 100% littoral plantings … And to have one, or a group of residents, tell Elle that they’re gonna be removed or that they should be removed is anarchy and we cannot put up with that.”

While I wouldn’t go so far as to call it anarchy, both of Guy’s point were valid.

Teague responded to the Chairmain, saying “I agree. I was on vacation, Bill. And I saw the email, and shipped off an email immediately like you’d said but it was late. But the littorals around that lake got eradicated.”

Supervisor Gary Neubauer was equally annoyed with the situation.

Silverlakes was one, some months back, [a resident] came and made an awful loud stench regarding the condition of their lakes. Noticing the fact that in every report that we have on their lakes there’s always been debris, grass clippings, et cetera. All these high-nitrate items that are leading to [the lake’s problems]. Additionally, the littorals are supposed to cleanse the water,” said Neubauer.

Operations Manager Scott Connell offered some additional perspective, explaining to the Board, “I just wanna tell you that issue with Silverlakes has been going on for over 2 years. Several of the residents want the littorals removed. They have a little different contour to their lakes, they have a shelf – unlike a lot of the ponds – it just slopes off in to the deeper area. And that generates littorals on a naturally occurring basis when you have the shallow water. Elle has for the past 2 years objected to the removal of those in whole. It just got to a point last week that, through several people, through the HOA, through lack of support by others, she just frankly had enough. I don’t mean to be harsh but I felt she was bullied in to that decision [to destroy the littorals].

Guy shot back, “She was bullied in to the decision?”

That’s my opinion,” responded Connell.

Later in the meeting, it was detailed how the landscaping company at Silverlakes constantly put lawn clippings in to the lakes, as Neubauer had eluded to.

Combine that with the trash and other items frequently found in Silverlakes’ ponds, it seems the littorals are needed more than ever.

The problem, of course, is that littorals are an eyesore..

A functional, helpful and completely necessary eyesore. But an eyesore. So that’s why the folks at the Silverlakes HOA have been pressuring Harris to get rid of them.

Why Harris would give in after two years and just destroy the littoral plants is a question that she was likely asked by her superiors at the GSCDD. The simple answer seems to be what Connell was saying: that after years of badgering Harris had enough, got fed up, and did it just to shut the Silverlakes people up.

But it should never have come to that.

The people who operate the HOA are, at least physically, adults.

The fact they’re causing a “stench” and harassing a well-liked district staff member to her snapping point is totally hypocritical of them. This is an HOA who insists on residents being completely and totally ‘by the book’ about their association rules, yet they feel they don’t have to follow the CDD’s rules? How’s that fair?

Sounds like something a bully would do.

Like it or not, littorals help ponds.

And like it or not, the CDD Board has voted that Gateway’s ponds will have littorals. All of them.

The GSCDD is working on what they call a “ponds standard” for Gateway. Once the standards are established it seems they’re going to have to develop a specific framework to enforce the standards.

This is the second recent open rebellion about littorals in Gateway. First in Walden Lakes, and now in Silverlakes.

The Board of Supervisors is going to have to get a grip on the littoral situation. And the HOAs and residents of Gateway are going to have to get a grip on themselves, and stop harassing district staff about the plants.

Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that October happens to be National Bullying Awareness Month.

And, oh, one last thing … it appears the littorals in Silverlakes have started to grow back again on their own.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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