2017 – A Look Back
As we start the New Year, it’s a good time to take a look back at all we’ve accomplished in the last decade. Lakewood Estates has come a very long way.
When this administration began, in 2006, there was a membership of something between 40 and 60; attendance at meetings was down to about a dozen people. There was no web site, no email group, no newsletter. The neighborhood was rather fiercely divided between the Association and the Crime Watch, resulting in competition for members that benefited neither. We supported no charities. We had no pet registry or animal rescue group. There were no social events, no picnics, no Movies in the Park.
Now, in 2018, we not only have these activities, we also have an annual donation for swim lessons. Over the last 6 years, we have given $7,655 to the city, providing free lessons for almost 600 children. We give hundreds of pounds of food every year to the Free Clinic, for both people and their pets. We estimate that the Animals of Lakewood Fund, formerly the Ruby Fund, has rescued and rehomed several dozen dogs and cats. We have made good use of the city’s mini-grant program, including most recently for the wonderful picnic celebrating our Centennial to the music of the Lakewood High Jazz Band, a group we continue to support and promote. A few years ago we rounded up 480 volunteer manhours to match a city grant of over $9,000 for the 4 identity signs on our west, south and east corners.
Membership is now over 500 and still growing, thanks to a dedicated welcome committee. While some may say that this is only 1/3 of our homes, this is in fact an extraordinary number. One political science journal reported that in neighborhoods that are not undergoing gentrification, membership in associations is about 5.3%. And our dues have always been kept low. Until 2018, they were only $15 and even now, at $20, are far less than our neighbors (Broadwater, for instance, is $40).
Our crime is nearly zero because we have taken proactive steps to protect our persons and property. The crime watch that used to keep this neighborhood so divided has been integrated into the Association so that we are now part of the same community.
We set up a discount program for members that not only gets them good prices at area places like Ace Hardware but also benefits those local merchants.
The newsletter is mostly self-sustaining because of the willingness of local merchants to advertise with us. The newsletter continues to grow and improve and we look forward to bigger, better issues in 2018.
We have worked with Boyd Hill Nature Preserve to publicize their major events and their Natural Science Speaker series. Our close relationship with the Country Club means that we protect their property while in turn they provide us with advertising revenue, membership dues, and use of their ballroom so that our meetings are comfortable and everyone can enjoy the wonderful ice cream from Working Cow.
We cleaned one of the urns on 31st Street and repaired the other. The city came to us and asked if they could redesign our travel islands. Two are done and a third is a work in progress; more will follow.
A city council member recently said that Lakewood is the “best organized and best integrated neighborhood in the city.” People move here because they hear about us, read about us, look at our web site and the country club, and say “That’s where I want to live.” Every time our wonderful welcome committee, Mike and Marlyn, meets a new arrival, we hear, ”We are SO glad we moved here.”
We have come a long way in 11 years, with minimal strife or discord thanks to a dedicated board of volunteers. Someone recently posted that all but 2 of the board are retired. In fact, all but 3 of the 8 are still working. Yes, a few of us are getting on in years but we bring with us a lot of history, institutional memory, business acumen, and know-how. Of course we would welcome younger people to the board but the fact is that here, as elsewhere in the city, younger people have jobs and kids and other responsibilities and generally do not have the time, at this juncture in their lives, to devote to civic matters. But this “old” board has successfully met the needs of a diverse population and will continue to do so.
Hurricane Irma proved definitively that this is not just a neighborhood – it is a community with residents contributing and participating to make it a very special place to live.
Several businesses in the area have joined us in a program to increase our Association membership and keep shopping local. The list of these businesses and what they offer is available on this site under Sponsors. Visit it now and then because it will be updated from time to time. Note that you must be a paid, current member with a Lakewood membership card to take advantage of these discounts. Notify one of the Association officers if you wish to pick up your membership card; you will need it to show the store when you ask for your discount.
Remember to bring non-perishable food for the Free Clinic’s Food Bank. We also collect dry and wet food for cats and dogs, as well as old towels and blankets, for local rescue groups.
Meetings of the Association are held 5 times a year, in January, March, May, September and November, usually on the 3rd Wednesday, at the St. Petersburg Country Club, beginning at 7:00 p.m.
Save the Date – Our Next Meeting
Jan. 17, 2018, 7 p.m. at the Country Club.
2018 Meeting dates: March 21st, May 16th, September 19th, November 14th (this meeting is a week earlier than usual becuase of Thanksgiving)
If you have a book to share, or want to borrow one, there is a neighborhood ‘library’ in a display box at the curb at 1912 Bonita Way South. Bring a book, take a book, pass the books around.
Fishing in the ponds – what’s the problem?
Here is an explanation that will allow Lakewoodians to better understand the fishing situation and enable us to explain it to outsiders who want to fish here.
The bottom line is that it is in the interest of everyone who lives here to ensure that the Country Club and the golf course continue to thrive. Without the golf course, we are just another St Pete neighborhood. All that open space, all that greenery and blue sky, all that wildlife is what sets us apart and makes us special. It doesn’t matter whether you play golf or even belong to the Club – the value of your home depends in large part on the health of the golf course.
Trespass. Most of the ponds are in areas that belong to the Country Club so that anyone wanting to fish in them has to trespass over Club property. No one who is not a member of the Country Club has any business on the course. Very often after one person begins fishing an area, others join in and create groups large enough to become a real hazard for the golfers. Little children are often left to wander around dangerously close to the water – and there isn’t a single pond on this course that doesn’t have at least one resident alligator.
Danger. A golf ball travels 90 mph and does considerable damage when it makes contact with a human head. Golfers often cannot see what’s ahead of them and have to trust that no one is foolish enough to be sitting in their path.
Fish. The fish are put in the ponds and paid for by the Club to keep down the alga. Golfers do not want to play among scummy ponds that smell. The fish are therefore not up for public grabs. Moreover, the fish are full of pesticides and fertilizer and are suitable for ingestion only by birds (who mercifully don’t seem to be affected, if the success of our osprey nests is any indication).
Intrusion. Many of the people who want to fish here do not understand the protocols and rules governing golf courses. They pull their cars up onto the easement (which is illegal) and then walk right into the path of golfers preparing to swing.
Parking and Litter. Along with a lack of knowledge about proper behavior, those wanting to fish often park illegally and leave behind dead or dying fish, litter, and/or beer bottles. In some areas, people pulling their cars up on the rights of way – also illegal – have destroyed the grass and turned the area into a sand lot. Someone has to pay to fix that.
Cast nets. A lot of fishing folk prefer cast nets, which quickly get them a lot of fish to sell for bait. Unfortunately, cast nets are illegal everywhere in this city except Lake Maggiore. And again, that ‘bait’ is really stocked fish owned by the Club so this is nothing more or less than stealing.
There are people, such as the woman who visited our meeting on January 20th, who believe that if they are sitting on a city right-of-way, they are on public property and can therefore fish. They can in fact stay on that public property all day long… but they cannot fish. Once they put that rod in the water, they are trespassing.
What you can do
If you see someone fishing in one of the course’s ponds (and the only one that isn’t Club property is Summit Lake, the entire rim of which is privately owned by residents), you can point out that they are on private property politely ask them to leave. This rarely works. You can then let them know the police are being called and move away. Or call the club at 867-2111 during business hours (ask for the pro shop or the manager), or call the police non-emergency number at 893-7780, or notify the Association president at 460-1586.
NEW CITY ORDINANCE REGARDING SOLICITATION
Enforcement of the new solicitation ordinance is going to be essentially a police matter, since Codes will not be around when someone rings your doorbell. This is going to make enforcement somewhat tricky.
We have to bear in mind that while the day-to-day annoyances are a problem, the bigger picture is the need to get the permits pulled or rejected for companies like Vivint that come in here and consistently ignore the rules. If the word gets out that you can forfeit your permit in this city for breaking our law, we will see a lot less of this.
With that in mind, here’s what we recommend:
If you have a NO SOLICITING sign (and we urge you to hop over to Ace Hardware and get one) and a commercial vendor rings your doorbell, do one or all of the following:
- Call out “Do you see that sign? We’re calling the police.” Then call 893-7780 and report the person – male, so tall, wearing this shirt and those pants, etc. – and your address. If you see the person walking way, try to determine which way he’s going and tell that to the PD. It’s important that the PD gets involved so that there is a record of the problem.
- Take your cell phone camera to the door, open the door, say smile, take the picture, close the door. Then do #1, above. We recommend you try to see what’s out there before you open the door – a permitted solicitor will be wearing a photo ID. Be cautious.
- If you do not have a sign and a solicitor manages to get you to the door and then refuses to show you his ID, refuses to leave or becomes abusive, call 893-7780 and report as above in #1.
- Call the police any time a solicitor refuses to identify the company he’s with or becomes evasive or shifty. Remember that with Vivint, one of their many big lies was that they are from your home security provider and are there for an ‘upgrade.’
- Keep a log of when a solicitor did any of these illegal acts because we may have to back up our complaints if and when the City writes up one of these folks and they end up in court. Note the date and time and the offense – no solicit sign, refusal to leave, threats, intimidation, obvious lies (we had one household last spring who was told they needed an update and they didn’t even have a system!). This will become part of the book the city will use if they decide to revoke a permit or not grant one.
- The city cannot be the plaintiff in a court case for this sort of thing – it’s going to require one or more of us going into court and testifying as to which part or parts of the ordinance were violated. Most of us don’t want to do this but it will take only 1 or 2 of us to get a company fined and then the word goes out – remember, the long-range goal is to send a message back to places like Vivint that they can’t come in here and prey on us. We don’t want to give the judge an excuse for throwing the case out of court.
- 6. Never hesitate to call my cell, 460-1586, and let me know there’s someone breaking the law here because if it’s during regular daytime hours (and sometimes even on weekends), I can often get some immediate attention.
Unwanted literature, flyers, posters, door-hangers: Keep what’s left at your door and turn it in to me – the new law also prohibits this stuff and this is evidence that someone has ignored your NO SOLICITING sign. If you leave it at my door (!), be sure to note on it where it was left (address) and the date. Realtors, pizza places, solar energy companies, so-called “energy auditors” – they are not allowed to do this if you have a sign. The Association will notify the offending company that they have broken the law and strongly suggest they not do it again.
This law makes no changes to the way we handle unpermitted solicitation, but while we’re on the subject, here’s a review of what we see and what we do:
Kirby Vacuums – they use lies and deception to get into your house
Window cleaners – they really want to get a good look inside your house to see what they want to steal at a later date
Driveway repairs – the first time it rains, the “asphalt” you paid for goes into the storm water system
Magazine subscriptions for college students – they get the money, you get no magazines
Meat from a wagon – Some of these are licensed and we know people who have bought from them and found the meat of good quality. It’s your call.
Fish from a wagon – ditto
Mrs. Pump It Off – young teens with a squirt bottle full of ‘magic liquid.’ It’s ordinary household cleaner; they are licensed but they hide their badges so you can’t see their names. Mrs. Pump It Off is being pursued by the attorneys general of several states.
Tree trimming – there are several very good services that do solicit (although most without a permit) but there are a lot of others that know nothing about trees and sometimes the tree doesn’t survive. If you need a tree trimmed, contact the Association – we have a reliable source.
Any time you have an unpermitted solicitor, call that 893-7780 number and ask for an officer to run them out of here. It’s a low priority call but if an officer can get loose, he’ll oblige. Same rule about calling my cell phone –let me know right away who’s been at your door, what they look like and which way they went.
The new law does not apply to charities, non-profits and religious groups, who may ring your bell despite a NO SOLICITING sign. Very few of these still go door to door – the Girl Scouts are at the malls, and others are now using the internet to raise funds. (One of those excepted is “vendors of milk products.” When is the last time you saw a milkman?) We don’t want to single out any particular group, but we heard from a lot of people about “keeping the religious away,” so we will pass this on: If you don’t want the Jehovah’s Witnesses at your door, call the Kingdom Hall on 31st Street and asked to be “put in the book.” The Witnesses carry that book with them so they know which houses not to approach. It works. 866-0710
There is a list of exempt groups in the new law but the city is not quite happy with it and some time in the near future they will be revising that. In the meantime, the law goes into effect on July 16, as is, and we encourage everyone in Lakewood to do what they can to support and enforce it. If enough of us raise a stink, we can severely curtail the amount of “scamming” that goes on here.
Ace Hardware on 34th Street South, a Lakewood sponsor, is carrying a supply of two different sizes/types of signs. We encourage you to patronize them — Lakewood is always supportive of local businesses.