Who owns the roads in The Woods?
The Woods of Lake Helen, a development that was started around 2004, before the Great Recession, doesn’t own their roads.
The City of Lake Helen never officially adopted the roads either.
“I’ve represented 85 different HOAs over a 20-year career, and I have never seen this situation before,” The Woods of Lake Helen attorney Brian Hess said at a Lake Helen City Commission meeting March 9.
Usually, after a certain percentage of the development has been built out, a city will adopt the roads, taking responsibility for maintenance, signage and liability.
But the Great Recession left most of The Woods undeveloped for more than a decade, and the developer, Victoria Hills LLC, no longer exists. The Woods is run by its homeowners association (HOA), who did not build the roads and who has no legal ownership of them.
And, all of the necessary paperwork to show that the roads were built correctly, including land surveys and soil borings, either no longer exists, or is lost.
City Administrator Lee Evett and City Attorney Scott Simpson originally took the position that the cost of producing the documents would fall on the HOA, which the HOA representatives were firmly against. However, Evett and Simpson were directed by the City Commission to reach a cost-sharing agreement.
Melissa Park finally getting new playground equipment
It’s been a long time coming, but Melissa Park in Lake Helen has finally ordered $365,340 worth of new playground equipment for a long-standing effort to update the park. A chunk of funds, around $62,000, will come from Volusia County’s Community Development Block Grant program.
Surplus equipment to be sold
Lake Helen is also finally cleaning out their surplus equipment, including seven vehicles.
One of the vehicles, a 1999 Dodge pickup truck, was at the heart of some recent controversy when City Administrator Evett allowed a city employee to remove the vehicle from city property in order to attempt to fix it. The employee had no luck, Evett said, and returned the truck.
Citizens were perturbed there was no record-keeping on the state of the truck before it left the Public Works building, and Evett admitted letting the truck off city property was a mistake.
The truck was removed from the surplus list until the matter is sorted out, after prompting from City Commissioner Heather Rutledge.
Public art may be coming
Lake Helen resident Joy Taylor pushed for resumption of plans for public art in the city, plans that fell by the wayside during the COVID-19 pandemic. The City Commission was amenable to factoring in public art monies into next year’s budget.
How about redoing the asphalt millings on all of the dirt roads in lake Helen, the Art stuff can wait.