Southwood Homeowners Upset with Proposed Park Plan

Southwood Residents Voice Concerns about City's Plans for a New Park
Posted at 5:15 PM, Apr 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-07 04:50:39-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Homeowners in Tallahassee's Southwood community are voicing their concerns about a proposal to build a new park in the neighborhood.

The catch, they say, is that they'll be the only ones paying for it, even though it's a project that all residents can use.

The pool is a place to relax and unwind, but there's a lot of tension about plans to add another one in Southwood within a much larger project.

"I am not having enough say in a very expensive project," said Susan Conlon, a Southwood resident.

This project, drawn up by the Community Development District (CDD), is estimated to cost a couple million dollars and it's one that some residents aren't thrilled about.

Here's a look at what's being proposed: lighted fields, courts, a community center and a pool.

"Next week, it might be a bowling alley," said Bob Wickham, a Southwood resident. "So, there's no limit on what they can do."

CDD chairman David Ramba says the plan meets homeowners' needs.

"An outcry of an overcrowded pool, no active recreation areas other than conservation areas, and the need to not have to travel all over the city for kids' activities," said Ramba.

Some homeowners say public access to the new pool will come at a cost: an annual fee of more than $400.

"If you want an annual fee to save money but to do an 'annual-only' is only for one reason," said Luis Rojas, a resident at Southwood. "That's to keep people out, and that's wrong."

The project is proposed to be built on property that's currently owned by the city on several acres across the street from Florida State University School.

Homeowners say the extra amenities aren't needed.

"A lot of the homes within Southwood are currently three miles away from the proposed location for the new facility. So, it seems redundant, and it seems like an overexpense," said homeowner Annie Ford.

They also say the CDD hasn't been transparent with where the project stands and how it will impact residents financially.

Residents say the CDD is already in the hole by about $30 million. Developers borrowed bonds to pay for infrastructure, leaving homeowners to pay off the debt.

Ramba said the board has discussed the project at meetings and mailed out information to residents.

"There hasn't been a lack of transparency," he said. "I think people want answers for things that we don't have the answers for yet."

The Southwood CDD will meet next Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The board will provide an update to residents regarding the project.