SEBRING — Beth Degnan appeared before the Highlands County Board of County Commission again Tuesday, this time concerned about a gate.
“The clubhouse is looking good. At a half-million dollars, it better,” Degnan said, but followed with concerns that the company rebuilding the old community clubhouse has locked a pedestrian gate that gives access to a park area there.
She wanted to know that the park and the 16 paved parking spots for that park would have the gate unlocked for the benefit of the residents there.
In addition to having that gate shut, she also worried that, once work is complete, people from outside the community would have a right to use it, since the county has put money in it.
Other county park facilities have rules for use and she wanted to be sure those rules would exist for the Highlands Park Estates clubhouse.
She has raised other concerns with the clubhouse at previous meetings, including the last meeting of last year, at which Commissioner Don Elwell told her the County Commission would have more answers for her at the Jan. 8 meeting, which was Tuesday.
In answer to one of her questions, County Administrator Randy Vosburg said the clubhouse would have hours posted for when it would be open. He pointed out that public dollars was used for it.
“Special benefit tax dollars,” Degnan said.
“Correct, but ultimately public dollars,” Vosburg said. “So I know in other districts, we’ve had it open to the general public.”
He said a reservation process might be in order, since it would be a public facility.
“We don’t anticipate people from the north part of the county renting out a clubhouse in the south part of the county,” Vosburg said, “but that is something we could look at from a legal perspective.”
Degnan then quoted the plat book for Highlands Park Estates — “Plat book 4, page 95” — stating that the clubhouse would be for the exclusive use of the Highlands Park Estates residents.
“So, it’s very, very adamant that that building not get used or destroyed or damaged or misused by people who don’t live in Highlands Park Estates,” Degnan said.
She repeated her concerns for why it was rebuilt, and whether the money should have been spent on a new building, but as long as it is, she said, she doesn’t want to see it damaged.
She also said, as she understood, it should have been done by now, including the 16 parking spaces, which as of Tuesday, she said, have not been done.
“(Certificate of Occupancy) doesn’t necessarily mean it’s finished,” Commission Vice Chair Ron Handley said.
Until the contractor has completed all of the building, he/she has the right to lock up the site, Handley said.
“I’m glad,” Degnan said.
Once it’s done, she said, she wants to make sure she and other residents can go out and use the public park.