Gateway medians focus of long term planning

Published on: October 25, 2012


SUN CITY CENTER — They may be labor intensive and sometimes quite thirsty, but this community’s landscaped medians in its Pebble Beach Boulevard gateways are widely considered valuable assets. 

Aesthetically pleasing features in the roadways that enhance the community’s appearance, give visitors with favorable impressions and signal high resident interest in property upkeep, they stretch a third of a mile into the north side and an estimated nine tenths of a mile to the south, pointing to the Renaissance area round-about.

And their plantings, whether colorfully blooming or constantly verdant, require maintenance ranging from irrigation to fertilizing to mulching to trimming to be vigorous and healthy. 

So, how can all of that be assured in the years and decades ahead?

To answer this question, a task force of community leaders has been formed to study long-term options and produce viable recommendations in 2013.   It was formally authorized in August by SCC Community Association President Ed Barnes and charged with several objectives, including identification of all alternative means of maintaining the medians and development of a phased plan to implement whatever alternative eventually is chosen.  Paul Wheat was named the task force chairman.

The newly organized group is focused solely on the Pebble Beach roadway medians and will not deal with any of those in S.R. 674, also known as Sun City Center Boulevard.

The task force, composed of 13 men and women with specialized areas of expertise and a common interest in the daily impression the community makes, has met to outline its objectives and divvy up specific responsibilities, Wheat said this week.  Now periodically touching base with the individual members as they proceed with specific tasks each is undertaking is replacing routine group sessions, he indicated.

At the present time, the two long medians are being maintained with  substantial financial support from Minto Communities, Sun City Center’s current – and probably last – developer, Wheat said.  Minto, like any developer, has a keen interest in how the community looks as the company continues to build and sell new homes within it, he added.

However, build-out of the community is expected in about five years and at that point Minto, a Canada-based company with interests in several Florida properties, will withdraw from SCC to concentrate on other projects, Wheat noted.  Additionally, the company has a contractual agreement with Hillsborough County concerning the medians which will expire in about four years, he said.  Consequently, it is in the community’s best interests to begin now to generate a replacement plan.   The developer, Wheat added, also would like to see a plan in place when it leaves to assure that the medians are kept up for benefit of the community ”and that the lights don’t go out” following its departure.

Among the task force’s first goals are pinning down the present maintenance costs for the two medians, determining the irrigation requirements and all associated costs, evaluating lighting requirements and their costs, plus learning precisely what the county maintenance standards are if the medians were not kept up by the community.  Commonly, Wheat added, county upkeep of medians is confined to leaving trees in place and mowing whatever grass exists. 

Two primary methods of community maintenance are emerging as options are discussed, Wheat said. One is working with Hillsborough County to establish a special district generating monies to pay for the maintenance. Residents would be assessed an annual fee which would become a non-ad valorem assessment included on their yearly property tax bills.

Another option could be management of the medians by the CA, with a probable increase in the annual dues paid by association members to cover the maintenance costs.  With this approach, SCC citizens also could donate to or endow a fund earmarked for the median upkeep.

Of the two options, CA management might be the more economical, Barnes noted.   The special district approach would entail paying the county a percentage – perhaps three or four percent – for its services in creating the district and SCC residents would cover that amount in addition to the annual fee for the maintenance, he said.   But if the CA managed median maintenance, he suggested, members would pay only the actual costs, without the added percentage for service.

The task force is to provide an interim report on its findings by March 1, 2013, Wheat said.  Its recommended course of action is to be produced by October 15, 2013.

The first median maintenance task force announcement is on the agenda for tonight’s (Wednesday, October 24) community annual meeting at Community Hall. 

Task force members, in addition to Wheat, currently are: Roger Aman, Bob Deutel, Dee Giordano, Gary Karkonen, John Luper, Steve McTeague, Susan Muise, Ron Pelton, Tom Schmitt, Sam Sudman, Rolf Sulzberger and Harold Van Eyckens.
Copyright 2012 Melody Jameson