Draft Meeting Minutes for December 18, 2023
Community Development District
The regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the Heritage Palms Community Development District was held on Monday, December 18, 2023 at 8 a.m. at the Heritage Palms Golf and Country Club at 10435 Washingtonia Palm Way, Fort Myers, Florida and via web conference.
Present and constituting a quorum were:
Mike Whitten – Chair
Stan Switzer – Vice Chair
Bob Breisch – Assistant Secretary
Dennis Kane – Assistant Secretary
Al O’Brien – Assistant Secretary
Also attending were:
Cal Teague – District Manager, Premier District Management (PDM)
Bill Kurth – Premier Lakes
Alex Kurth – Premier Lakes
Jim Wesoloski – HOA Liaison
George Smothers – Resident
Sam Marshall – Engineer, Banks Engineering
Chris Pepin – Field Manager, Community Field Services
Christopher Dudak – Client Services Manager, PDM
The following is a summary of the discussion and actions taken at the Heritage Palms Community Development District (CDD) Board of Supervisors Meeting.
FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS Call to Order and Roll Call
The meeting was called to order at 8:02 a.m., and District Manager Teague called the roll. All Board members were present. Also in attendance were Cal Teague, the District Manager, Bill Kurth and Alex Kurth from Premier Lakes, Jim Wesoloski, HOA Liaison, and George Smothers, Resident. Attending remotely were Sam Marshall, the Engineer, Chris Pepin, the Field Manager, and Christopher Dudak, Client Services Manager from PDM.
SECOND ORDER OF BUSINESS Approval of the Agenda
On MOTION by Vice Chair Switzer, seconded by Supervisor Kane, with all in favor, the Agenda was approved, as presented.
THIRD ORDER OF BUSINESS Audience Comments on Agenda Items
There were no Audience comments on Agenda items.
FOURTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Consent Agenda
A. Items to be Pulled from Consent Section for Discussion by the Board
There were no items pulled.
B. Motion to Approve Consent Items
On MOTION by Supervisor Kane, seconded by Vice Chair Switzer, with all in favor, the Board approved all items on the Consent Agenda.
C. Consent Items
i. Draft Regular Meeting Minutes for November 27, 2023
This was a handout, and there were no changes.
ii. Financial Report for November 2023
iii. FEMA Reimbursement Update
District Manager Teague reported that staff continues to monitor the FEMA grants portal, but FEMA has not uploaded an eligibility memo has of yet.
D. Consideration of Items Pulled for Discussion
There were no items pulled for discussion.
FIFTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Attorney
A. Halperin Fence Repair Final Demand Letter
District Manager Teague reported that Attorney Urbancic sent the final demand notice to Mr. Halperin after the last Board meeting, and staff had not received a response as of yet. Attorney Urbancic informed staff that it would be necessary to procure a litigator, and that legal pursuit would be quite expensive, and not all fees may be recoverable. Even so, the Board would like to pursue the lawsuit against Mr. Halperin.
Later in the meeting, it was noted that Mr. Halperin is now depositing debris adjacent to Heritage Palms property, in a different area along the canal. Engineer Marshall confirmed that this is golf course property with a CDD LME. He suggested staking just at the north point and south point to create a line of sight to determine the property line, instead of conducting a complete survey, but Chair Whitten does not believe that two points are sufficient. District Manager Teague stated that he will ensure that sufficient stakes have been placed to clearly define the property line.
District Manager Teague stated that staff will research the City and County jurisdiction needs and draft a code complaint after Engineer Marshall has staked the boundary so that Code Enforcement can verify Mr. Halperin’s violation. Engineer Marshall stated that he will contact the Lee County NPDES program to ascertain whether it is necessary for Mr. Halperin to install a silt fence on the property for the prevention of erosion. Chair Whitten noted that erosion could have reduced the LME width on that side of the canal.
B. Gate Access / Post Orders Proposed Revisions
District Manager Teague explained that, although the Board had previously approved the proposed revisions, they had not been reviewed by Attorney Urbancic. He has now reviewed them, and he recommends extensive revisions. He stated that the goal is to memorialize the proper and legal treatment of the public and their access to the District’s public roads. Staff recommends writing a clear training document for the guards regarding their interaction with visitors, and one that explains their actions if a visitor refuses to state their destination or show ID, as the agreement with the HOA gives the CDD approval over post orders. The Board approved the current direction of draft revisions, which staff will continue to amend. When it is complete, staff will send it to the Master for their review, and for subsequent adoption, ensuring that the post orders conform to the terms of the maintenance contract.
SIXTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Engineer
Engineer Marshall commented on two proposals that Field Manager Pepin received from MRI for cleaning the stormwater system in the Heritage Palms Estates Enclave, and he also mentioned additional pipes that should be cleaned. This was discussed later in the meeting, below.
SEVENTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Old Business
A. Cane Toad Preventive Program Update
Supervisor Briesch stated that it has been difficult to proceed with sending his proposed email blast to the community concerning the Cane Toad problem, because he has received no response from Traci Bichalski of the HOA. Jim Wesoloski, the HOA liaison, stated that he will speak to Ms. Bichalski and encourage her participation and her response to his email draft. Mr. Wesoloski asked Supervisor Breisch to forward his draft of the email to him, which he will do. Supervisor Breisch also stressed that it should be made clear that Cane Toads are not just a CDD issue, but also a community concern.
B. Lakes Maintenance Proposals
District Manager Teague stated that they had received two proposals, which were presented as handouts. The first was from Premier Lakes, and their representatives Bill and Alex Kurth were present. The second was from Gonzalo Ayers of Pristine Lakes & Wetlands, who was not present at the meeting.
Chair Whitten has observed that the lakes are in better condition than they have ever been. Field Manager Pepin agreed, but he stated that they must continually ask FloridAquatic to perform the treatments. It appears that FloridAquatic has only been performing work based on his written reports and has not proactively developed their own plan for addressing the issues. He believes that they are not leaving their vehicle during the treatments, so some areas that are only accessible by foot are not being addressed.
Alex Kurth stated that Premier Lakes uses backpacks as well as treatment from their vehicle. Bill Kurth stated that they have observed that FloridAquatic has addressed the algae and submerged weeds well, but Premier Lakes would perform a more detailed inspection and ensure that all algae and vegetation is treated. He stated that their proposal includes an evaluation of the lakes, which indicates that the algae growth at Heritage Palms lakes is due to greater levels of dying vegetation. They sometimes perform probiotic treatments with beneficial algae.
Bill Kurth stated that they will come onsite 8 times a month and add more visits, if needed. He stated that he and Alex Kurth have over 55 years of experience combined and have well qualified staff, and the company has received excellent reviews. They would assign one of the technicians to be in charge of the community, and the Kurths will conduct inspections to ensure that all of the assigned tasks are completed. The Board asked about the number of staff in the company, and they stated that there are 7 full time technicians and over 20 on a waiting list from previous companies. They also stated that they have 55 total clients. None of their technicians have non-compete contracts with Solitude and would not be prevented from working at Heritage Palms. The company has plans to expand the business, but they will ensure that they have adequate staff to serve all of the communities. They prioritize good communication and report their work to Field Management immediately after it is completed. Bill Kurth stated there would be a cross benefit, because they address issues in aerator maintenance as well and would be in the community more frequently, and the community would receive more attention.
Chair Whitten asked Bill Kurth why he did not respond to the numerous requests from the Board to attend their meetings when he was at Solitude, and Mr. Kurth stated that Solitude did not consider communications to be a priority for him. One of the reasons he left Solitude was that he desired to spend more time in communities assisting them with their issues. Field Manager Pepin noted that those meeting requests were arranged via email between Field Manager Pepin, District Manager Teague and Solitude, and the dates would sometimes be confirmed and then canceled, or there would be no response.
In reference to the proposal for Lake 25 and the dark water and stains on features, there is still some question if they are caused by dissolved sediment or biofilm, because the stain is on the submerged lights and on the exposed rock. They stated that biofilm can be treated with peroxide and will not harm the fish, and this could be a monthly or quarterly manual process. Alex Kurth will need to re-examine the proposal to see if this was an additional charge. He stated that regular treatment with algaecide would be included as a part of the maintenance.
District Manager Teague asked about their response when they notice a fish kill, and they stated that their cleanup cost is only a labor charge, if the weather caused the die-off. If it is caused by their weed treatments, they would assume the entire cost. They stated that it would be a same-day response call.
The Board asked the Kurths to leave the meeting, so they could discuss the two proposals.
Bill and Alex Kurth left the meeting at 9:52 a.m.
The Board discussed whether to retain FloridAquatic. Chair Whitten was reticent to hire a different company, because the lakes are in good condition, and he asked Field Manager Pepin for his input. Field Manager Pepin recommended that they hire a new contractor, because he believes that the issues with FloridAquatic will continue. For this reason, Chair Whitten deferred to Field Manager Pepin’s recommendation, and the Board decided to give FloridAquatic 30 days notice or to terminate their contract on December 31, 2023, with the choice up to FloridAquatic.
On MOTION by Supervisor Kane, seconded by Vice Chair Switzer, with all in favor, the Board approved terminating the contract with FloridAquatic, giving them 30 days notice or terminating their contract December 31, 2023, if they so choose. *Motion modified below.
Chair Whitten asked for more input concerning Field Manager Pepin’s recommendation for a new vendor, and Field Manager Pepin stated that Pristine Lakes and Wetlands is his preference. He believes that Premier Lakes might be growing too quickly, and they have some Solitude employees on their staff, which may be a problem. Chris noted that both of the companies are approximately 1 1/2 years old.
Supervisor Breisch commented that staff and the Board have expressed a favorable opinion of Gonzalo Ayres of Pristine Lakes and Wetlands. District Manager Teague commented that Mr. Ayers has a smaller company, and he has been the most responsive contractor he has worked with and is always onsite within 2 days when requested. District Manager Teague stated that Mr. Ayers has also been performing lake bank restoration for the CDD.
Supervisor Breisch likes Alex Kurth but has an issue with Bill Kurth’s answer to Chair Whitten concerning his lack of response when he was with Solitude. Chair Whitten also noted that the Kurths seem to be more sales oriented, but Mr. Ayers is more focused on operations. District Manager Teague stated that the Kurths came to the meeting of their own volition.
Vice Chair Switzer stated that Mr. Ayers has been a good technician, and his goal has been to service the customer. He would like Mr. Ayers to attend a meeting so the Board can compare his company to Premier Lakes, and District Manager Teague believes that he would attend a meeting if asked.
Supervisor Breisch prefers Premier Lakes due to the possible benefit of increased synergy, and with one company handling the maintenance of the lakes, fountains, and aerators, and Supervisor Kane expressed that he is also in favor of Premier Lakes.
District Manager Teague believes that Premier Lakes will become very big, which was a problem with a previous contractor, and Pristine Lakes and Wetlands may not.
Supervisor Kane left the meeting at 10:24 a.m.
Vice Chair Switzer suggested waiting another month, so that Mr. Ayers can come before the Board to answer their questions. Field Manager Pepin contacted Mr. Ayers while at the meeting, and he called in. He was invited to the next meeting on January 22, 2023, and District Manager Teague asked if he could start February 1st if awarded a contract at that meeting. Mr. Ayers stated that he could.
District Manager Teague stated that Mr. Ayers has experienced employees who worked in Heritage Palms years ago.
Mr. Ayers called in at 10:26 a.m. and left at 10:29 a.m.
*The Motion above was modified to delay terminating FloridAquatic’s contract until January 2, 2024, so it will be after the holidays.
The Board decided to table the issue and make a decision at the next meeting.
C. Stormwater System Cleaning on HP Estates Drive Proposals
MRI had submitted two proposals for cleaning the pipes at a total cost of $15,980, and Chair Whitten asked for Engineer Marshall and Field Manager Pepin’s recommendations. Engineer Marshall stated that he had previously recommended cleaning the 40% blockage in two pipes, and now he also recommends jetting out all of the remaining pipes in the Enclave, so that no issues develop in the future. He stated that Field Manager Pepin does not believe that MRI would clean the remaining pipes until they have been scoped, so Engineer Marshall suggested that, when they request MRI to clean the remaining pipes, they state that the pipes have 20% blockage. If it proves to be more, then MRI can submit a revised invoice for the difference. Field Manager Pepin has yet to receive a proposal for the additional cleaning areas recommended by Engineer Marshall.
Supervisor Breisch asked why the work in the lake interconnect areas is so much more expensive, and District Manager Teague explained that cleaning from 3A to L11C is a much longer run and is on the golf course side, which must be completed with smaller equipment rather than a VAC truck, because the truck it too large and heavy and does not have access to those areas between the homes and the golf course. Field Manager Pepin noted that Sewer Viewer would not clean the area in the golf course, because it is so difficult to access.
After extensive discussion, the Board decided to approve the two proposals.
On MOTION by Supervisor Kane, seconded by Chair Whitten, with all in favor, the Board approved proposals #4509 and #4510 for MRI to clean two pipes in the stormwater management system with 40% blockage, not to exceed $15,980.
D. Stormwater System Inspection and Cleaning History
Staff prepared a history of the cleaning and inspections of the community’s stormwater system which was sent via a Dropbox link, because it is a 114-page document. The study is a history of stormwater cleaning from 2016 to present, including proposals, invoices, and inspection reports.
EIGHTH ORDER OF BUSINESS New Business
There was no New Business.
NINTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Field Manager
A. Current Field Management Report
Field Manager Pepin summarized his report and the following was discussed:
He reported that the resident at 8008 Tiger Palm Way reported that the branches from a dead Oak Tree in the preserves are hanging into her yard, and he is obtaining a proposal.
Vice Chair Switzer asked Field Manager Pepin if he looks for dead trees or trees that need replacement near the preserves when he is conducting his inspections. Field Manager Pepin stated that he will make it a point to look, when he is inspecting the fence lines.
Field Manager Pepin stated that the trail camera on Lake 6 has captured many trespassers. He suggests the purchase of a data transfer trail camera that can send real time information to a cell phone, so that security can investigate, or they can call police. Chair Whitten doubted the benefit, because the police did not come when called recently. Chair Whitten stated that he will contact Dan Davis of Heritage Palms security and ask him if he would agree to receive the pings from the data transfer trail camera. Field Manager Pepin will investigate the possibility of multiple ping receivers. Chair Whitten stated that he will also contact Fort Myers Community Relations and ask for another perspective on dealing with trespassers.
Chair Whitten asked if it is the golf course’s responsibility to clean debris underneath the metal plates over cart paths, and Field Manager Pepin stated that they are. He also asked about a pothole that a resident had reported to him, and Field Manager Pepin will investigate.
District Manager Teague stated that Field Manager Pepin had reported a grate that needs replacement on a stormwater structure on the cart path at Lake 26, which is at the edge of the preserve. Field Manager Pepin stated that it is currently underwater, and the Board asked Field Manager Pepin to get a price for its replacement, which he will do.
B. Follow Up Items
i. Fence Repairs Update
Field Manager Pepin stated that the fire station is working near the property line, and he is unable to access the hog fence. It was noted that fence repairs beside the fire station will be delayed, because they are doing water well construction.
Field Manager Pepin commented that he has been informed by Carter Fence that they are scheduled to return to Heritage Palms on December 18th and 19th to complete the remaining repairs throughout the community. At this month’s field inspection, he noted that they have already taped off multiple locations, but he found that several locations did not have identification markings. Field Manager Pepin sent Carter Fence an email indicating the locations that are not marked.
ii. Community Sidewalk Pressure Washing Update
Field Manager Pepin reported that they will be starting this week, but the contractor is a little behind schedule due to delays at a prior jobsite.
iii. Lake 8 Fountain Power Repair Update
Field Manager Pepin reported that repairs are scheduled for December 20th. Premier Lakes will be onsite December 21st to replace the fountain motor. When the Kurths were still present, Chair Whitten had asked them if he had any more information on the Lake 8 fountain power issue, because the Board was surprised that the power had been functioning for ten years with a supposedly under-powered panel and a gauge of wire that is too small. Alex Kurth stated that he couldn’t say without knowing more of the history, but he noted that there were different gauges of wire between fountain and junction, and junction to another junction under the cart path, and then another to the cart barn. Chair Whitten had spoken with another contractor, but when they had not received a proposal in a timely manner, it was decided to pursue the original proposals from the prior week, although the price had been adjusted by the electrician. It was stated that the total costs are below the approved project budget.
iv. No Trespassing Signs along Bromley Lane Fence
Field Manager Pepin reported that 6 signs have been installed.
TENTH ORDER OF BUSINESS District Manager
There was no other information from District Manager Teague.
ELEVENTH ORDER OF BUSINESS H.O.A. Report
The HOA Liaison had left the meeting earlier, so there was no report.
TWELFTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Supervisor Reports, Requests, and Comments
Supervisor Breisch stated that he was concerned about Supervisors leaving meetings before adjournment, because they are being paid, and they should stay for the entire length of the meeting. When it was mentioned that Jim Wesoloski left early, Supervisor Breisch noted that he is a volunteer, and this comment was meant for Board members. He noted that the Agenda packet reflected that it would be a long meeting, so the Supervisors should allow time for this. Chair Whitten stated that he agrees with this opinion. Supervisor Breisch asked staff to include these comments in the minutes. District Manager Teague stated that he will send the minutes to Supervisor Breisch for his review.
THIRTEENTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Audience Comments
George Smothers asked if the debris that Mr. Halperin deposited on golf course property can be removed by the CDD. The Board noted that Mr. Halperin has remained unresponsive.
FOURTEENTH ORDER OF BUSINESS Adjournment
On MOTION by Vice Chair Switzer, seconded by Supervisor O’Brien, with all in favor, the Board agreed to adjourn at 11:02 a.m.
The Next Regular Meeting is January 22, 2024 at 8:00 a.m.