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VMs Hear of TBARTA Van Pool Program

The Nov. 12 Westchase Voting Members meeting began with a presentation about TBARTA’s Van Pool program.

Harbor Links resident Bill Parish, a member of the Government Affairs Committee (GAC), provided an overview explaining that the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority  (TBARTA) includes five counties—Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee. He said they are working to plan, develop, finance and operate a world class transit system. They want to introduce the Van Pool program to Westchase and have partnered with Enterprise to execute it. He said that Enterprise is not just the rental car company most of us know. He stated Enterprise sees themselves as a transportation solution company that is managing van pools in over 50 cities. Adding that 150 van pools are operating in the Tampa Bay Area, Parish then introduced Arlinda Karuli, Account Executive at Commute with Enterprise to further explain the program.

Karuli said that they believe there are lots of needs in the Westchase area. They work with employers who can tell them the areas from which their employees are commuting. They look at clusters of people who live in the same region. While not necessarily sharing the same employer, they are going to the same location. For example, many Westchase residents commute to downtown Tampa. People who must drop children off would not participate but they would like to identify a group of four to six Westchase residents who live within a two-mile radius of each other. They can meet at a public location like a Publix, Target or Costco, where they can either park their personal vehicles or walk. A driver of the van pool can either leave the car at that central location or take it home.

The van pool vehicles are newer models such as Dodge Durango, Nissan Pathfinder, Chrysler Pacifica or others based on needs. The vehicle is fully insured and gets a full-service maintenance program. The program runs on a 30-day period so someone can try it for a month. Karuli spoke of the program’s many benefits—having the ability to nap, read and catch up on work if you aren’t the driver. Participation requires no gas purchases, no tolls, no parking fees and it can lower your monthly personal car insurance. It also takes cars off the roads and reduces your personal carbon footprint by as much as 12,500 pounds of emissions annually. TBARTA is providing a monthly subsidy and they have an emergency ride home program if someone needs to go home early and will miss the van pool. More information can be found at commutewithenterprise.com and on the TBARTA web site, www.TBARTA.com.

Following the TBARTA discussions, VMs moved on to discussions about a Westchase Community Association (WCA) Guideline change to Section 1.3.4 on Flags and Banners. Community Association Manager Debbie Sainz explained that legal counsel had adjusted the verbiage to line up with Florida statutes. VM Russ Crooks (Bennington) said he was concerned that the guideline did not specify the materials that were acceptable for the flagpole. WCA President Shawn Yesner responded that staff would have to go back to legal counsel to see if the association can specify the materials. Sainz clarified that a modification request would be required before a resident could put a flag up but Modifications Chair Dale Sells added that the Modification Committee must simply apply any rules that are written. The group discussed tabling the proposed amendment but Yesner and Sainz explained that there are new requirements that will limit the number of guidelines passed per year. They stated that within 30 days proposed changes will have to be mailed or distributed to homeowners. Yesner said that they are trying to limit costs by getting as much as possible into one mailing. VM Terrance Maloney (Harbor Links/The Estates) said, “For anything that changes how we vote, we should be notified.” With reducing costs in mind, VMs voted to approve the guideline but go back to counsel to check on the verbiage.

Next on the agenda was an amendment to the Election Committee Executive Summary and Recommendations. Sainz explained there were a few minor changes made to accommodate when notices get sent out by the office. This was quickly and unanimously approved.

In light of discussions about cost savings, Yesner said that the proposed exterior home colors for the updated Color Palette Guideline are in the WCA office on Parley Drive for VMs and residents to review. He added, “There are a lot of new colors.” VMs will vote on these in December and January and they are hoping to have these ready to be sent out to residents in January.

WCA Director Dale Sells said he wanted residents to be aware that there is a one-page (front and back) resident survey included with the association’s assessment notices that will soon be mailed. He said they would like to get residents to provide their feedback. A drawing will be held at the January Board Meeting for gift certificates for local businesses for those who complete the survey. “This is the first time that we’ve made a mass appeal for every owner.” he said.

VMs adjourned at 8:11 p.m.

By Brenda Bennett

CORRECTION: The original version of this article incorrectly identified Bill Parrish as a representative from TBARTA. The above article has been corrected to reflect that he is a Westchase resident and member of the GAC. WOW regrets the error.

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