During a two-hour meeting, approximately 50 Killearn Estates residents voiced concerns over the proposed Northeast Gateway and the controversy over possibly selling land at the Thomasville Road entrance to the neighborhood.
The meeting was held at the Killearn Homeowners Association (KHA) headquarters located on Killarney Way.
The least controversial of the two issues was KHA’s final position on the proposed Northeast Gateway project.
The Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency (IA) is holding a meeting on March 11th to address the project. The project creates a four lane road, Welaunee Blvd., which begins at Fleischmann Road, runs through Welanuee Plantation and connects with Shamrock Street at Centerville Road.
The IA states that the project “is anticipated to provide relief to US 319 (Thomasville Road) and US 90 (Mahan Drive)—the first phase of a new regional gateway into Tallahassee.”
Given the goal of the project, several Killearn Estates residents voiced concern about traffic issues with Shamrock Street, which is currently a two lane road that runs through the neighborhood.
There were also discussions about the previous plans by government planners to turn Shamrock Street into a four lane road. The plan was voted down after the community voiced concerns.
Ultimately, the KHA voted 8-1 to oppose the proposed path of the project and to urge officials to connect Welaunee Blvd. to Roberts Road rather than Shamrock.
Will Messer, who was the lone vote against the Board action, said there were benefits to the project as long as Shamrock was not widened and actions were taken to “protect the integrity of the neighborhood.”
The discussion about the possible sale of vacant land at the Thomasville Road entrance to the neighborhood generated the most discussion. A discussion that became heated, and at times, pitted some KHA Board members against each other.
Board member and past KHA president, John Paul Bailey explained that inquiries about vacant land come in to the KHA all the time. Bailey said the Board was looking at the possible sale of a piece of land that borders Tallahassee Street and Thomasville Road to help pay for neighborhood improvements.
Bailey and Board member Gloria Arias explained that there was a lack of resources available in the budget for neighborhood capital projects.
Bailey made it clear that there was never a serious discussion about the sale of vacant land bordering the Thomasville entrance to Killearn Estates.
After a motion by Board member Chuck Faircloth to seek appraisals for the property, the Board voted 8-1 against the proposal.
The Board did state there were discussions with developer JT Burnette about a possible “land swap” for the Killearn golf course. These discussions took place with the Executive Committee.
It was revealed that the Executive Committee – made up of four Board members – meets monthly. The meetings are not publicized and minutes are not taken.
The ensuing discussion revealed KHA’s concerns about the future of the golf course and also exposed transparency issues with how the KHA has communicated with homeowners over an issue that is vitally important to many in the neighborhood.
Board member Phil Inglese explained the concern the Board has with the potential closing of the golf course. Inglese said the KHA is trying to pursue possible solutions that will avoid a bad outcome for the neighborhood.
The KHA’s concern is the golf course could suddenly close and become a detriment to the community.
However, the overall concerns among many of the residents at the meeting related to the golf course issue was about the transparency and the lack of communication by KHA to homeowners.
Some Board members -agreeing with residents concerns – argued that the process is not transparent and accused the Executive Committee of addressing issues that should be taken up during full KHA Board meetings.
Michael Flemming, a former KHA president, said the original purpose of the Executive Committee was to deal with personnel issues, but now he believes the purview of the committee has grown to include issues that are not being be properly noticed.
KHA President David Ferguson defended the Executive Committee process and made it clear that decisions are not made at the Executive Committee meetings. He explained that the meetings only serve to prepare issues for the public noticed meeting of the KHA.
Following the heated discussion, Board member Will Messer made a motion to change the Executive Committee process. The vote failed 6-3 with Board members David Ferguson, Gloria Arias, Chuck Faircloth, Philip Inglese, Steven Grimes, and John Paul Bailey voting no.
Board members Bill Schack, Michael Flemming, and Will Messer were in the minority.
Near the conclusion of the meeting, KHA president David Ferguson stated that, going forward, the dates of the Executive Committee meetings will be placed on the KHA website and he welcomed citizens to attend the meetings.