A VHA Partnership Success Story

On Tuesday, September 13, 2022, Ray Viall, VHA’s Neighborhood Representative for the Villages on the historic side of US 441/27 hosted a Coffee Chat at his home in County Club Hills.  He invited a dozen or so folks from his immediate neighborhood to let Karl Arps, VHA’s Vice-President for the area north of Highway 466, provide a brief update on what’s happening in The Villages’ north end and in The VHA in general.  Most Villagers don’t realize that it isn’t easy knowing who to contact for infrastructure, utility, or compliance issues in Lake County.  The original neighborhoods that became The Villages were in place and occupied before the Community Development Districts were created, so these residents get some services from District Government, some from Lake County, and some from the Town of Lady Lake.  Karl received a lot of questions.

One resident brought up the need to make Vermont Avenue less rough.  Vermont gets a lot of golf cart and car traffic and is important to many residents.  Ray and Karl decided to figure out who is responsible for the road and see if something can be done to make the street smoother.

They discovered the street is in Lake County’s jurisdiction.  On Saturday, September 17, they met at Vermont Avenue, took photographs, conducted a traffic study, and began preparing a report.  There were shallow but broad potholes and a very nasty drain that sat 1 to 2 inches below the center of the road.  The report was submitted the next Monday to Donnie Gardner, Lake County’s head of road maintenance.

Often, the best advocacy that can happen is for The VHA to get a clear answer, which is sometimes “No” and sometimes “It’s in the plan for next year”.  But there are occasions when The VHA can get something done quickly.  Some of those things are huge and involve partnering with the Developer, state government, county or local government, and/or the District Government.  For example, the letter-writing campaign that resulted in approval to build the golf cart bridge over 441/27.

At the local level, we can advocate for Villages residents on specific issues.  Ray and Karl’s report did not wind up in an ignored in-basket, Donnie Gardner got right on it.  He tried to get a patching crew over that same day to patch potholes.  They had run out of aggregate to make the patching material, so it had to wait until Thursday morning when they did a great job of patching potholes and made a temporary fix on the drain to protect vehicle tires and suspensions.

At the east end of Vermont Avenue, there was a large pothole on the apron connecting Vermont to Lester Drive.  Again, the road crew did a great job filling and smoothing the patch.  In the future, we are hoping to ease the ¾ inch drop-off from Lester to Vermont.

A lot of credit goes to VHA’s representative Ray Viall for getting the ball rolling with a friendly neighborhood get-together and putting in the time to get photos, vehicle counts, and recommended solutions.  But credit must also go to Lake County and specifically to Donnie Gardner for their customer service orientation and can-do attitude.  Donnie and the patching crew were a pleasure to work with.