We thought we could go a lot more than a week without writing about lake bank restoration. We were wrong.

The economic model that GSCDD Supervisor Rod Senior based his lake repair cost calculations on was called in to question by Senior himself at the March 19, 2015 meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

Good thing Gateway hasn’t applied for that $4 million loan just yet.

Make no mistake, this isn’t entirely Senior’s fault. Watching the meeting we were just as surprised as Senior was when resident Ed Tinkle shared with the Supervisors that he observed a lake repair in action – and when Tinkle questioned the technicians making the repair it was learned that only the sides of the lake that bordered residential properties were being repaired.

Up until that moment, Senior believed (as did we) that the money involved would pay for the repair of the entire perimeter – as in 100% – of the most problematic lakes.

Not so, said Danny Nelson of Tetra Tech, who is overseeing the current repairs and is also Gateway’s District Engineer.

“The discussions we’ve had historically, we were gonna address the residents’ side because that’s what we were concerned more of – of those sides. I mean, honestly, if we’re in there I’m not necessarily saying we need to do the same method. It certainly would be less expensive to address it now than maybe later. But that’s simply the reason why. We were addressing the sides where, with the potential harm to the home owners,” explained Nelson.

Senior responded to Nelson: “The methodology that I used — that you and I had used — in doing this economic forecast is that for the Tiers 1, 2 and 3 we’ll be taking 100% of the lake perimeter.”

“No. No. That – 100% of the lake bank side where the residences are at,” answered Nelson.

“Oh so okay, that’s the linear feet that’s in your prioritization list, it isn’t the entire perimeter it’s is the residential perimeter,” said Senior.

Nelson said that Lake 126’s repair costs would grow “astronomically” if they were to repair the entire lake instead of just where the residents’ homes are.

Two things.

First, everyone was told that one of the main reasons behind the lake bank repairs being completed is that the lakes did not meet the compliance standards set by the South Florida Water Management District . Either that compliance concern has now been tossed out the window, or it somehow is not legally required to have lakes be up to code unless it borders residential property.

Second, over $1,000,000 has already been either spent or approved to be spent by the GSCDD to fix Gateway’s lakes. How is it that we’re just now learning major pieces of information like this? How is it possible that over a million dollars is spent – and the GSCDD only learns what it’s been spent on after the fact, and only after Tinkle knew something was out of place and asked about it?

We at the Sun are paying more attention to lake bank repairs than 99% of Gateway’s residents and we’re totally unsure how Gateway should proceed.

On one had we ask ourselves if this whole lakes thing really such a big deal? Is it really worthy of all these millions of dollars and all this time and energy?

Then on the other hand, a resident wrote an email to the Supervisors saying, “I would like my yard to be fixed asap please. My yard abuts the yards that have already been fixed and its erosion has been accelerated now that ‘edges’ and ‘weak links’ have been created.”

Other residents have shared stories with us describing small sections of their backyards literally eroding away. Several residents have sent us photos.

We’re not experts on lakes or lake bank erosion, but even we know there must be a problem.

Getting back to the amount of money involved, according to the GSCDD’s website, there are 3,713 homes in Gateway. If the additional cost of the repair ends up being another $4,000,000 as Senior thought, on top of the $1,000,000 that’s been spent – that would mean every home owner in Gateway will be paying approximately $1,347 to complete these repairs.

If they’re right about the costs.

And at this point, who really knows if they are?


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

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