When it comes to the topic of the Gateway CDD purchasing the abandoned Girl Scout building, the Supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of the concept of buying the facility with the obvious condition being that the building is in good shape. The district is sending plumbers, electricians, etc. to do a preliminary examination of the building. No offer to purchase has been made as yet, and even if an offer is made it would still be subject to a second, and much more thorough, inspection.

The plan would be to move the administrative staff and Board of Supervisors to the Girl Scout building and dedicating the current GSCDD facility to the utilities and operations departments. The board had budgeted $800,000 to upgrade and expand the current facility, so the money to buy the Girl Scout building would come out of those funds.

Of the five Supervisors, Vice-Chairman Margaret Fineberg and Supervisor Pamela Gill are up for election in November, and they both voted in favor of the Girl Scout building plan. But what about the four candidates who do no currently sit in the big chairs at district meetings? We asked what they thought…

One candidate was for the idea, one candidate was against the idea, and one candidate deferred to the existing board. George Huskamp, who is running for Seat 1, did not respond.

These are being presented in the order they were received. Our analysis of the comments follows at the end of the candidate’s positions.

ED TINKLE, Candidate for Seat 3:

Over my professional career, I have worked with hundreds of cities, towns and special purpose districts throughout the Midwest many much like our Gateway CDD. It is a common practice of a large majority of these governmental units to separately house their administrative office/staffs from their operational office/staffs. The Gateway CDD is essentially a large utility serving over 6000 customers. The District has just recently hired a new Utilities Director, who is responsible for our utility operations, which includes water, sanitary sewer, irrigation and stormwater management systems. The Operations Manager is generally responsible for the administrative functions of the District, which primarily consists of utility billings, contract management and procurement. Having worked with both of these individuals at the Gateway CDD, I see no problems with the separation of offices. I have visited the Girl Scout Building and am of the opinion that it would be more cost effective making improvements to it rather than making major improvements to the existing building, assuming that no major structural or mechanical problems are found upon further examination of the building. The Girl Scout building’s location also offers other opportunities for the community, such as a place for HOA’s and other community organizations to hold meetings (not adjacent to the wastewater treatment plant) and being adjacent to the Fun Park, offices at this location could provide more security for the park. In summary, I support the Board’s action to perform the necessary due diligence in further examining and performing cost effective evaluations for both options. Respectfully submitted by Ed Tinkle–Candidate for Board Seat #3.

CAROL STANLEY, Candidate for Seat 2:

What I would like to speak to – having served for six years on the Gateway Board of Supervisors – is the diligence with which the current supervisors approach this issue. They are gathering information and voted to put the issue on a future agenda so the residents may be informed. This is the way a governing body is supposed to work. I believe the administration and utility sides could function well – if split into two locations – given the communication devices available today. The staff and those who support the idea – armed with the true facts about cost and logistics – will present their case for acquiring the Girl Scout building to the Board of Supervisors on its merits.

KATHLEEN FLAHERTY, Candidate for Seat 2:

The CDD voted 4-1 to investigate further the feasibility of purchasing the “Girl Scout Building” pending a study of the condition of the building. It is my opinion that dividing the staff between two sites, as would happen with the purchase of the GSB, would hinder communication among the staff and, in turn, the continuity of the CDD operations. Since it appears that there is a need for more working space for staff members, obviously a workable solution must be found. However, with two buildings there would be double the overhead for operation expense. Further a complete study should be done as to whether expansion of the current facility makes fiscal sense, since there is only limited property available at the present site to expand perhaps leaving the community in the lurch if future expansion is needed. The decision needs to be made based upon the issues of practicality and economics that are in the best interest of the Gateway Community. At this stage of the discussion I would be opposed to the purchase.

GATEWAY SUN ANALYSIS OF COMMENTS: Despite the fact they took opposing views, we support the comments of both Tinkle and Flaherty. The potential acquisition of the Girl Scout building is an important topic, and we like that those candidates actually took a stance. Both of them hedged a little, which you’d expect politicians to do, but in the end they had an opinion and offered it. Stanley chose not take a position, instead opting to not upset anyone on either side of the issue. Gateway is at a crucial point in its history as a community. This is not a time for middle-of-the-road politicking. As for Huskamp’s decision not to respond, it’s a curious strategy. Not taking advantage of we-will-cut-and-paste-whatever-you-say opportunities may not be the best idea for someone whose main obstacle in this election is a lack of name recognition.

EDITOR’S NOTE: While we won’t be asking the candidates’ opinions on every decision the GSCDD must make, we will ask them to take a stance on major topics throughout the election.

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

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