As you may have noticed, the Lake Bank Restoration Project is back in full swing.
While this is the third year of repairs, the Gateway Services District is actually still in Phase 1 of the project. The funds for the 2019 repairs were secured several years ago as part of a low-interest SRF (State Revolving Funds) loan from, as the name suggests, the State of Florida.
After a highly contentious meeting last year in which the entire project was temporarily halted so it could be re-assessed, a few assurances were made to Gateway residents: One, that they would find cheaper ways to repair lake banks; and two, only lake banks attached to residential homes would be repaired. No money would be spent to fix pond banks in areas such as wetlands and the golf course.
The first of those promises has long since been abandoned as the district didn’t receive any bids that would lower the costs they’d been shelling out. (But that was by design.)
The district says that these Phase 1 ponds must, must, must be fixed to prevent serious erosion issues in people’s back yards. And while some of the pictures we’ve seen of eroded pond banks look bad and support the notion that repairs are necessary, it’s nonsense that the high dollars must be spent. The district assured the high costs when they crafted the bidding package to require the most expensive method to fix the ponds. The district claims that the current repair method would last around 15 years, whereas the cheaper methods would only last perhaps 5 years.
So in the district’s view, they want to spend more money now and have the repair last up to three times longer.
But now the second promise could be broken as well.
At today’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, a decision will be made as to whether to spend $61,805 to fix 315 feet of pond banks on The Club at Gateway golf course.
There are several concerns, not the least of which is that this could open a can of worms. If the district strays from its policy or promise to only fix residential areas and starts fixing ponds banks connected to golf holes, what else will they need or want to fix?
According to an internal GSCDD memo: “At the request of the Board, Tetra Tech met onsite with the contractor on March 26th, 2019 to review a specific area of the golf course side which is heavily eroded and is in need of repair … The proposed area of repair is approximately 315 feet in length and is in an area where the flow way ‘necks down’ between the residential lots and the golf course. This area has high flow volumes during the wet season and is an area that will forever be prone to erosion.”
The fact it was at “the request of the board” that Tetra Tech went to look at a golf course erosion issue was surprising to me since nothing about Phase 1 ever included fixing ponds attached to golf course holes. However, there’s no law that would prevent the Supervisors from authorizing the spending of Gateway’s money on this repair — as the pond in question is the property and responsibility of the GSCDD.
I guarantee you the District Engineer (Tetra Tech) and Supervisor Ed Tinkle will be in favor of the repair, but it’s unclear what the other four board members will do.
If the board chooses to deviate from their previous “residential property only” position of the Phase 1 plan, it could mean that anything will be possible in the future.
It’s unknown how much of the SRF money the district obtained a few years ago for Phase 1 is left, but it is clear they plan to spend every penny of it.
Whether they choose to stick to fixing residential properties or expand Phase 1 to include sections of the golf course will be up to the board to decide today. We’ll let you know what they choose to do.