Archive for the ‘Resident’s Letters’ Category

March 29, 2017 Budget Workshop

March 29, 2017

Message from our Neighborhood Committee Chairman

At today’s Budget Workshop the Sarasota County Commission unanimously approved a staff recommendation to advance the Septic System Replacement plan in Area N3. This vote was necessary because the county’s capital improvement plan is being reshuffled in order to cope with a shortall in surtax revenue, and some projects are being delayed. Today, our project survived.

I am pleased to report that Commissioner Alan Maio reached out to contact me soon after the commission voted and asked me let everyone know he had received our emails. He said he was glad that we did not overwhelm him with email, and more importantly, that none of us were insulting or rude or threatened to kick him out of office if he did not support our project. So to those of you who took the time to contact Commissioner Maio or any of the other commissioners, thank you for representing our neighborhood well.

I would also like to mention that Commissioner Hines responded promptly to the initial email I sent on behalf of the committee Monday evening, and it was he who introduced the motion today that kept our program in the capital improvement plan.

We owe thanks to all of the commissioners, and specifically to Mr. Hines and Mr. Maio, for voting to keep our sewer project going.

Thanks to those neighbors who took the time to email the commissioners, and thanks for being respectful.

Only one step remains: The county commission will be presented a construction contract for its approval, as soon as April. Then, at long last, we should see digging in the streets. I am sure there will be a lot of information in the coming months.

Best regards,
Peter Gentile
N-3 Neighborhood Committee



worth noting

Charles Hines is the only sitting commissioner that was involved in the months of discussion concerning our project.  He met with us several times during the process and  has been very supportive of our efforts throughout.  Comm. Alan Maio is one of the “new guys”, but seems genuinely interested in connecting with us in the neighborhood.  He is the Commissioner for District 4 (our district).



Sarasota County Budget Meeting

May 16, 2013

but first, a letter to the Commissioners

Prior to the May 14th Budget Workshop our neighbor Walt Menzel emailed the Commissioners regarding our neighborhood sewer project.  Two points Walt made:

(1) for areas already completed, “Mr. MacFarlane, Sarasota County, indicated that the total cost per home ranged from $9,000 to $13,000. He also indicated that every property owner pays the same price of $5,400. This means that some homeowners got a better deal than other homeowners. Of course, this makes sense and is expected as just the way government programs work. It is a way to spread the program cost out over many people”

(2) [the N3 area]  is one of the most environmentally sensitive areas of the program, [having] significant direct exposure to Phillippi Creek. 

Commissioner Robinson’s response

“I appreciate your sentiments about pollution and cost spreading, but in reality we have a great big balancing act full of more variables than that.  One thing I can promise you, we are reviewing N-3 and now the whole Septic Replacement System with the suggestions and ideas of the residents of N-3 in our minds.

Thank you for participating in the public process, your participation is making government better”.

May 14th meeting

This Budget Workshop had some real significance for our neighborhood!  Although not listed on the agenda, Commissioner Robinson introduces N3 into the discussion (17:40).  During the following conversations George MacFarlane states at least three times (20:38, 21:50, 22:18) that “N3 is presently funded for $3,000,000”. This is particularly good news because although Mr. MacFarlane claims a vacuum system for N3 could cost “as much as $3,600,000”, the N3 Committee Review  has shown a more realistic estimate of $2,630,558.

Commission approval

Although the official minutes have not been posted, this is on the meeting website:

Approved Option 2, to complete the current five year Capital Improvement Program using $8.4 million Surtax 3 funding with $12.5 million from the State Revolving Fund and to complete 12,430 total connections (82 percent of the Phillippi Creek Septic System Replacement Program)

what’s next?

The May 14th meeting was the third budget workshop this year.  There are two more scheduled in June (12th and 21st) and a final workshop is scheduled for Aug 20th.  The final budget will be adopted at Public Hearings in September.And don’t forget… we have an N3 “policy discussion” meeting coming up sometime in June.

watch the meetings

I encourage everyone to go online and view the meetings… watch the entire proceedings or go to the time stamps I have listed.

Here’s how: go to  On the right hand side of the homepage click on the blue box that says VIDEO CENTRAL.  Cursor over to left side menu, click on County Commission.  Find BCC  Budget Workshop  May 14, 2013, Video.  That’s all there is to it!

This is a great resource we have to be able to sit in on these meetings from the comfort and privacy of our homes.  How many communities have this service?… my guess is not many.  With our laptops and PCs we should all be able to participate. And as Commissioner Robinson tells us, our participation is making government better.

Resident’s Letter.22 to County Commission

April 25, 2013

N3 neighbor Walt Menzel recently wrote to the County Commissioners:

Dear Commissioners:

I attended the Commission meeting on February 13, 2013 to observe the discussion regarding sewers for  Area N3. I was very pleased to listen to a thoughtful discussion regarding what is best for Area N3 and also what is best for the County and the remainder of the PCSSRP.

I was also thankful that a significant amount of time was spent discussing pollution. Pollution of our groundwater and waterways is obviously the most important reason for PCSSRP.  There was even discussion related to changing the completion of the project and not completing areas (meaning not providing sewer service) that clearly have little or no impact on our groundwater and waterways.

Area N3 was mentioned in the meeting as a part of the PCSSRP that was in the heart of the project. It seems like it was pushed to the end of the project because it was such a difficult area to deal with, having so many homes directly on Phillippi Creek and related creeks and canals. There is no question that  minimizing pollution for Area N3 should be at the top of the list.

The Alternative Wastewater Systems Study  performed for the City of Cape Coral (Greeley and Hansen -2007) is a very comprehensive study that includes an environmental ranking when comparing sewer alternatives (see chart pg. 49). And it ranks the Low Pressure Grinder Pump at the bottom of the list (the only thing worse is a septic tank, which is not an option for Area N3).

This next-to-worst environmental ranking seems to be common sense. Besides all the moving parts (and being dependent on the homeowner’s electricity ) that are involved for the system to operate, the Low Pressure Grinder Pump system is constantly under pressure. Any leaking joint or crack in the line will push sewage into the ground and eventually into our waterways.

A Vacuum System is just the opposite. Any leaks in a Vacuum System would result in material being drawn into the system instead of being pushed “under pressure” into our environment.

It was very important that the pollution aspect of our sewer system came up during your discussion. Please consider this when deciding on how to complete the rest of the project. Your decision on Area N3 is important to our environment and will help keep our waterways clean and pollutant free.

Walt Menzel 

Menzel & Associates, CPAs, PA

Resident’s Letter.21 to County Commission

February 11, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dear Commissioners,

We have been told that three technologies were considered for our neighborhood sewers: (1) gravity, (2) vacuum, and (3) low pressure grinder pumps. Because of costs, grinder pumps have been selected for all of our 200 homes. But maybe there is a fourth option… expand the scope of an N3 vacuum system to include the customers of the adjacent Goldenrod gravity system.


  1. Area N3 is surrounded on three sides by a 50+ year old gravity sewer system that frequently requires restoration, not just routine maintenance.  Groundwater intrusion is likely a major problem.Goldenrod Gravity
  2. Including the several hundred Goldenrod gravity connections will greatly increase the economy of scale of a vacuum system that would then serve well over 500 customers.
  3. The vacuum station can be built with the number and size pumps to serve N3, but the building structure is sized to accommodate the ultimate number of pumps required for the entire area.  Sections of the gravity system that need repair will instead be transferred to the vacuum station that is designed to serve them.  Additional pumps will be added or up sized as required by the additional hook-ups.
  4. Lift station No.059-0610 is located in front of 3125 Lockwood Ridge Rd.  The homeowner cannot be pleased with this structure, frequently producing a noxious odor, in his front yard. Buy this property. The owner is happy to relocate from a compromised property that would be difficult to sell, and the county has a vacuum pump station site that is centrally located.

I’m sure that most folks served by the gravity system are content with what they now have, so this will require hiring a consultant to evaluate a system that no one is complaining about.  The money being spent now is a maintenance cost, so no no one notices. Who wants to go out on a limb for something far out into the future?

But imagine the situation a few years from now: 200 homes served by grinder pumps, which are now failing at an increasing rate, surrounded by a 60-70 year old gravity sewer that can no longer be patched and “re-piped. Whoever is involved in this future scenario will scratch their heads and wonder “what were those guys thinking?”

Please include this possibility in the discussions on Wednesday.

Thank you,

W. Mike Scarborough
3316 Tanglewood Dr.

Resident’s Letter.20 to County Commission

February 6, 2013

Carolyn Garvey recently wrote to the Commissioners:

Dear County Commissioners, 

I want to thank you for meeting with our N3 Committee members recently.  They have worked very hard investigating grinder pumps and have uncovered information not shared with us by the County. My sincere hope is that you will make your decision based on what is truly good for our area, not what is cheapest.  We were told recently in the neighborhood meeting by the County financial person that cost is the driving force behind the push for our small area to have grinder pumps.  I would hope that cost can be outweighed by the negative aspects associated with grinder pumps and that another solution can be found.  My personal feeling is that in an effort to find the cheapest sewer solution the County is white washing the negatives associated with grinder pumps. 

John Scalzi brought up an excellent point in the neighborhood meeting.  He said that the County goes to great expense to mitigate damage from hurricanes, millions of dollars a year, yet the County when it comes to the grinder pump issue is willing to put our homes and our safety in jeopardy.  Grinder pumps fail with power outages.  There is not a property owner in N3 that believes that in case of an emergency we will be able to receive service to keep our pumps working and prevent back up into our homes.  It is not reasonable to suggest that a few hundred individual homes will receive the service that the folks with the vacuum systems will receive, even though we would stand in great jeopardy of inconvenience and damage to our homes.  The County tried to assure us that they will have contracts in place for service…not convincing when we are looking at a worse case hurricane scenario. Our N3 property owners are united in our opposition to the grinder pump sewer system.

Please vote NO on the upcoming Grinder Pump proposal. 

Thank you,

Carolyn Garvey
3449 Tanglewood Dr.

Resident’s Letter.18 to County Commission

January 28, 2013

N3 residents Steven and Tonya Garcia wrote to the County Commissioners…  here is their unedited letter:

January 28, 2013

Sarasota County Commissioners

Re: N3 South Gate area of the Phillippi Creek Septic Replacement Program.

Dear Commissioners,

As homeowners in the designated “N3” area, my wife and I strongly oppose the grinder pump system which will result in a diminution of our property value and negatively impact our overall quality of life and peace of mind.

My wife and I have lived in our home on Umatillo Avenue for 13 years. I am a certified real estate appraiser and have been involved with a variety of appraisal assignments including various market studies, diminution of value studies, eminent domain projects and detrimental condition studies.

We support either utilizing the existing gravity sewer system or providing a centralized vacuum sewer system as the best option for the N3 South Gate area.

With regards to our property, our perfectly functioning septic system is proposed to be replaced with a grinder pump sewer system which has been shown to be problematic and will occupy a portion of our property. As Sarasota County will require the mandatory sewer connection, this is readily available and located 100 feet from our property line at the southwest corner of Umatillo Avenue and Theresa Lane.

We respect your commitment to save tax payer’s dollars, however the grinder pump system will be highly unfavorable to the future of all homeowners for this area.

Please vote “NO” on Grinder Pumps and support the use of either a gravity or centralized vacuum system for our area.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Stephen and Tonya Garcia
3613 Umatillo Avenue

(ed. note: Stephen A. Garcia is an active State Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser-RD5620)

Resident’s Letter.17 to County Commission

January 25, 2013

A letter to Commissioners from the Abraham-Belding household:

January 24, 2013

Sarasota County Commissioners

Dear Commissioners:

We write this letter to ask you to oppose the ill-conceived notion that our community would be better served with a grinder pump sewage system than any other. The N3 Southgate neighborhood represents a coming together of young and retired families comprising all socioeconomic levels. Among our neighbors are research scientists, accountants, media and business professionals, and academic scholars, including at least one Nobel laureate. While we appreciate the engineering staff appearing before a small number of us at the Southgate Community Center on January 17, we were disappointed by a presentation that was long on unsettling generalities and short on reliable comparisons of the choices before us.

The N3 neighborhood is surrounded on three sides by gravity sewer systems. But integrating our neighborhood with the others has been deemed unrealistic financially, since installing a grinder pump system is likely to cost less than a gravity system. Not addressed are the costs of the grinders as they need to be replaced every decade or so. Choosing this technology appears to be a case of being penny wise and pound foolish.  Another choice which was hardly discussed is a centralized vacuum system with an emergency generator. The latter would provide continuity of function, as the Environmental Protection Agency affirms. A grinder system affords no such continuity of service, since it is prodigiously vulnerable to power failures.

We do not doubt the good will of the engineering staff. But we and our neighbors believe that a grinder system is an invitation to disaster. We urge you to vote against the grinder proposal, and support a gravity or centralized vacuum system.


Henry David Abraham, M.D.
Carol Jane Belding
3401 Tanglewood Dr

Commissioner Robinson’s (5:23 AM) response:

Dear Dr. Abraham and Ms. Belding,

Thank you for taking the time to write. The Commission has postponed a decision on this matter until February to allow for time to review and explore the situation with staff and the N-3 Committee. Thank you for your thoughts.

Best Regards,


Christine Robinson
Sarasota County Commissioner

Resident’s Letter.16 to County Commission

January 21, 2013

A recent letter to Commissioners from Barbara Maynor:

Dear County Commissioners,

Thank you for reading my letter, as well as the many others that have been sent regarding the South Gate N3 Grinder Pumps.  I am sure if you have driven through our neighborhood, you now know the overwhelming feelings against Grinder Pumps.

I purchased my home at 3415 Fair Oaks Place in November, 2012, after having rented it for approximately a year.  The previous owner told me that this home was connected to the gravity sewer on Duncan. He was correct, despite the County telling me on more than one occasion that I was given incorrect information.  Had this not been the case, I can tell you without a doubt, I would not have purchased this property, despite the fact that it was a good deal.  I have a good friend in Tuscaloosa, Alabama who has a grinder pump.  We share our concerns every hurricane/storm season, but her anxiety is compounded by the prospect of losing power and the use of her grinder pump.

My primary purpose in writing this letter is to oppose the Grinder Pumps. Since I am in the N3 area, although on sewer, I would hate to see the property values decline in our area because of this situation.  I would have looked elsewhere had this property not been on sewer, and most definitely would not have purchased it if it had been on a grinder pump.

Please vote NO to the Grinder Pumps.  Thank you for your time.


Barbara Maynor


Resident’s Letter.15 to County Commission

January 20, 2013

A recent letter to Commissioners from Dave & Nita Ettinger:

Dear County Commissioners,

We purchased our home on Tanglewood Drive in 2003.  At that time we were advised in the seller’s property disclosure to visit the county’s website for information and details about the schedule for change over from a septic to sewer system.  The Sarasota County website at the time of our purchase provided information about South Gate Area N-3 switching to a vacuum system, with an estimated completion of 2008. There was no mention of a possibility of a grinder pump or anything other than a vacuum system, for that matter.

We are adamantly opposed to the installation of a Grinder Pump sewer system in South Gate Area N-3, and we support the South Gate N-3 Committee on this issue. We urge you to carefully consider the potential negative impact a Grinder Pump sewer system will have on the quality of living, maintenance expense, and more importantly, decrease in property values for residents living within South Gate Area N-3.  Is this the system you’d like for your own home and neighborhood?

Please vote “NO” to Grinder Pumps and “YES” to a vacuum system for the 216 households within Sarasota County Area N-3.

Thank you,
Dave and Nita Ettinger
3461 Tanglewood Drive
Sarasota, FL

Jan 31 Public Meeting

Resident’s Letter.14 to County Commission

January 18, 2013

A recent letter to Commissioners from Matthew Sandburg

Dear Commissioners:

My wife and I have been homeowners on Tanglewood Drive since 2007.  We have two young children and I operate a small business on the Southgate Circle (The Law Office of Matt Sandburg P.A.). When we were considering moving to the area in 2007, the Septic to Sewer Project was a major concern. We were encouraged by the environmental benefits of replacing the Septic System with the Sewer System, but wary of buying a house with a major replacement program pending.   My wife and I did our research and I wrote to Sarasota County after receiving a disclosure from the potential seller of our house.

(note: the disclosure indicated that the home was in Area D and was to be served by a vacuum station)

On May 23, 2007 Mr. Sandburg emailed Sarasota County:

I am interested in purchasing a home located at 3004 Tanglewood Drive. According to the seller, this house has a septic tank that is scheduled to be be replaced with the [PCSSRP] sewer system as part of Area D.

According to the map, this house is just outside of Area D, which covers the area west of Phillippi Creek. The seller also provided an e-mail, which I attached to the bottom of this letter. Please advise us on this situation.

Thank you very much,

Matt Sandburg

He received this reply from Sarasota County Environmental Services:

Your address is in Area N and currently expected to start construction late 2008 and expected to be completed in late 2010.

(also included was a link to the map of Area N, which at the time had our neighborhood designated as N-15)

(back to the recent letter…)

From the Seller’s disclosure and the e-mail reply from Sarasota County, the information we relied on when we bought our house was that (1) it was estimated to be finished by either 2008 or 2010 and (2) that it was to be a Vacuum system.  There was no mention of the possibility of Grinder Pumps in our area.  I am confident that there are other homeowners in our N3 area that relied on the same or similar disclosure statements when purchasing their homes.

I understand the budgetary concerns, but I agree with the letters so persuasively written by my neighbors.  In my opinion, the most
economically sound decision in the long-term is for the Commission to approve the design of the vacuum pump system for Zone N-3.

I thank you for your time and consideration on an issue that is very important to us.


Matt Sandburg, Esq.
Board Certified Criminal Trial Attorney
3100 Southgate Circle

Sandburg’s unedited letter