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Community master planning appeals to CA board candidates

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Four candidates – two newcomers and two veterans – are aiming for three seats at the Community Association table here come January. Gerald Collings Sr. and Mike Killian are the newcomers to the fray as Chuck Collett and Neil Rothfeld, both of whom currently sit at the board table, seek members’ nods supporting their return.

By MELODY JAMESON

SUN CITY CENTER – Four candidates – two newcomers and two veterans – are aiming for three seats at the Community Association table here come January.
Gerald Collings Sr. and Mike Killian are the newcomers to the fray as Chuck Collett and Neil Rothfeld, both of whom currently sit at the board table, seek members’ nods supporting their return.

The three seats to be filled have been occupied by Ann Marie LeBlanc who has served the maximum of two consecutive terms, and by first-term director Martin Hurwitz, who has chosen not to seek re-election. In the third place is Collett, another first-term officer and current board vice president, who wants to be returned for a second three-year term.

Chuck CollettCollett, trained as a lawyer and a high profile business executive in Maryland before relocating to Sun City Center, was a strong proponent during his first term of community efforts aimed at modernization of the retirement center’s recreational facilities, particularly those on the Central Campus. He said this week he wants to help complete the work undertaken by the CA board in 2011 and 2012 pointing in that direction.

The recently-completed community wide survey of member opinions disclosed a strong continuing resident interest in a master plan for upgrading and updating the amenities, he noted, adding that during his first term the emphasis was on answering such questions as “what are the needs of the community” and “how can those objectives be accomplished.” The extensive survey and its high response rate now has suggested specific answers to those questions, he said. He wants to serve a second term, he indicated, to explore ways and means of implementing the improvement goals cited by residents as their priorities.

Asked about persistent, whispered rumors in the community related to his background involving a business failure and a personal bankruptcy, Collett replied that “there is nothing secret about this, it is not hidden.” Collett said that after practicing law for several years and in a variety of capacities, he had an opportunity to engage in a business venture involving waterfront residential properties and marina facilities.

The business grew rapidly, he began devoting more time to it than to law practice, one project was joined by another, partners were taken on and they all were successful initially in the ventures, he said. There also were substantial bank loans capitalizing the projects, he added. Then the recession of the 1980s hit the U.S. East Coast, the market dried up radically and highly leveraged banks were taken over by the Resolution Trust Corporation to prop up the nation’s banking industry. RTC would not extend his company’s multi-million-dollar loan agreements and the business collapsed, he said.

Collett said he returned to the practice of law, worked hard to ensure his partners were not financially ruined, avoided a commercial bankruptcy that would have left others holding only empty money bags and then, after the business situation was resolved satisfactorily, sought protections with a personal bankruptcy filing as, most recently, have millions of other Americans stung by the financial collapse of 2007-08.

He noted that ultimately he was highly successful in his law practice and suggested that no one understands the vagaries of business better than the individual who has confronted them, wrestled with sudden turns of events and succeeded in working through thorny issues.

Gerald Collings, Sr.Collings has been in the area for nearly 50 years, moving to Tampa from the mid-west in 1964 and to SCC six years ago, he told The Observer.

He was employed with Tampa Electric Company for more than 30 years dealing with electrical metering issues. He ended his career with Landis & Gyr, a maker of electrical meters, as an applications engineer, he added. This work took him around the world, troubleshooting meters and metering issues in power plants from China to Central America, he said.

Since retiring on August 31, he said he has more time to devote to volunteer work and sees service as a director on the CA board “as a perfect opportunity to work for my community.”

Collings noted he might bring a different perspective to the board, adding he is most vitally interested in working on the comprehensive long-term planning underscored by the recent community survey. He also said he believes there are actions that can be taken to make existing campus buildings more energy efficient in much the same way residential structures are upgraded energy-wise. “It would have to be approached on a building by building basis to see what could be done,” he said.

Owner of a home bordering on the former North Lakes Golf Course, Collings also said he is particularly interested in pursuing opportunities to site walking trails and bike paths for residents. And, while he is not a dog owner, he added, he’s also interested in investigating any chances to create a dog park on the north side of the community for those residents who are canine devotees.

Mike KillianKillian, on the other hand, is one of those canine devotees whose family shares their SCC home with a beloved 18-month-old greyhound, Chloe. She is the Killian’s fifth rescue and “very, very gentle,” he said.

Before moving to the community three years ago, Killians lived in Grosse Point, Michigan, and he worked in that state’s mainstay industry, automotive manufacture as an engineer, he added.

Describing himself as someone who “does not like politicians,” Killian said he believes he can contribute to the board – and therefore to the community – in the areas of formal planning and project management, both practices he engaged in for many years in the auto industry.

Killian, whose home is on Cherry Hills Drive, said he also has some concerns about proposed parking expansion around the Atrium complex.

“If you don’t help when you see a need,” he summed up, “you always may wonder if you could have made a difference.”

Neil RothfeldNeil Rothfeld, a corporate financial officer in his former life, was appointed to the CA board several years ago and has been its treasurer, riding herd on the myriad fiscal details that confront a board managing facilities valued in the multiple millions of dollars, ensuring the numerous financial reports of a tax-exempt volunteer organization are competently compiled and timely filed, working cooperatively with the resident community manager and her staff. He has not been, however, a voting director.

Now, he wants to be. “With me,” he pointed out, “there is no learning curve; I’m current on all the board issues.”

In addition to his extensive accounting and budgeting knowledge, along with expertise in keeping a not-for-profit organization compliant with state and federal laws, Rothfeld indicated he believes he can bring a forward looking focus to the board. He wants in his first term to see the SCC community “prepare for the future,” the former Bellmore, N.Y., resident said.

Part of that preparation is related to improving some appearances in SCC and part pertains to new enhancements, he indicated. With their recent survey responses, he added, “residents have told us what they would like.” They also made it clear they are willing to go forward with specific alterations and additions that require capital investment such as an upgraded theater, another library, a campus café, he suggested.

And, it is in meeting the challenges inherent in attaining such objectives, he indicated, that his skills are especially applicable.

Each of the four candidates said they would do some campaigning to acquaint CA members with their capabilities and each is expected to take part in a Candidates Night scheduled for November 14 in Community Hall.

Balloting is set for December 4 and 5. The top three vote getters will be seated at the CA table in early January, beginning three-year terms.

Copyright 2012 Melody Jameson

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