The Gateway Services Community Development District has announced that a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors will be held on Friday, December 4, 2015 at 3:00pm. The meeting will take place at the district’s office located at 13240 Griffin Drive.

Under Florida law, any time the Supervisors of a CDD are going to meet together it must be announced at least one week in advance and, unless the meeting is to discuss security or legal matters, must be open to the public. There are exceptions to the 1-week required notice in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency. Also, the December 4th meeting was announced prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Special meetings being called by the Gateway CDD are a rarity. I can only recall one other instance in 2015 where the Supervisors felt they needed meet outside of the usual twice-monthly meetings. In that case it was to discuss specific recommendations made by a consultant in regards to the district’s current human resources and future staffing plan.

This Friday’s meeting, however, will be to continue trying to figure out what to do about the plethora of pond issues the community faces. It probably won’t be the last special meeting on this topic.

The most recent revelation made about the ponds was from Gateway Greens HOA President and 2016 GSCDD Board candidate Ed Tinkle, who said that one of the few ponds that actually has already been “fixed” was accidentally fixed at the wrong slope – and possibly is out of code.

It’s just one of the many problems involving the Lake Bank Restoration Project.

Getting down to the basics, there are three things the GSCDD must accomplish, in order. First, determining exactly what needs to be done; second, figuring out how much it will cost; and third, coming up with a plan to pay for it.

So far the GSCDD has approached the situation in a highly disorganized manner and the entire situation has been botched, with over $1 million of Gateway residents’ money already spent or allocated to be spent.

To be fair to the Supervisors in regards to lake bank erosion repair, they’ve been largely trusting the advice of professionals and not just acting on their own. But by now, it should be obvious that the entire team involved in handling this situation has made far too many costly and incorrect decisions.

Then there’s the other hot-button issue of importance to the residents: whether or not to have littoral plants in the ponds.

Up to now, the Board has favored having littoral plants in the ponds and the CDD has plenty of evidence supporting the benefits of the aquatic plant life. However, some residents have aggressively fought against the presence of the littorals and there seems to be little chance that education will change their minds.

No matter what the GSCDD does, some people will be upset with them.

Hopefully the Supervisors will use the special meeting to tap the brakes, evaluate what everyone’s goals are (including the businesses who are urging the CDD to act and who also stand to profit when the district does), and begin finally figuring out exactly what needs to be done to protect the property owners whose backyards are eroding in to the lakes, and to satisfy the concerns of South Florida Water Management District.

Although the GSCDD has been acting with a sense of urgency, it’s not as if Lee County or the SFWMD has been harassing the district to correct all the ponds. But if you’re a homeowner who’s slowly losing their backyard, you obviously want a solution as soon as possible.

The first step is to finally and fully understand the problem.

Hopefully they’ll put a plan in motion to achieve that step at the December 4 meeting.

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

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