Background

We are just like you: We came, we toured, we fell in love with the Marketed Villages Lifestyle, and we bought; in many cases we bought again, and again. And based on our love affair with the amazing Villages Lifestyle, we enthusiastically encouraged our families and friends to join us in The Villages, America's Friendliest Hometown.

The Villages history is a testament to Americana at its best. How the vision and efforts of Harold Schwartz evolved from a mobile home park of approximately 400 units to a top selling Country Club Retirement Community of single family homes. The Villages' legacy continued and greatly expanded as Schwarz partnered with his son, Gary Morse. Unfortunately, the present-day Villages managed by the 3rd Generation (3rd Gen) of three Grandchildren; Jennifer Parr, Tracy Morse, and Mark Morse, do not share the symbiotic trust/respect relationship with Villagers, that their Grandfather Harold Schwartz had.

Various Villages Lifestyle Marketed Features have been removed over the years to the Villagers' dismay. For the past 2 years the 3rd Gen has negatively toyed with Village residents north of 466 by shutting down one of the most beautiful Championship Country Clubs, Hacienda Hills Country Club, on Morse Boulevard.  For years, the beautiful restaurant moved from failing restaurateur to restaurateur until it was finally shut down for good based on health inspections in April 2019.

And then one bright beautiful morning on July 29th, 2020, with only two days’ notice from a newspaper ad, the entire area was fenced off and total demolition began. The 3rd Gen did not reach out to the Villagers to share a positive vision for the future. Nor did they respond to requests for meetings or comments.

Then on August 12th after 2 1/2 hours of heated discussion attended by at least 200 Villages residents, with over 20 speaking at the podium,  the Amenity Authority Committee (AAC) voted 4-1 to give the 3rd Gen everything they wanted and received basically nothing in return. Due to FL Sunshine Law the meeting agenda items may not be discussed by as few as 2 committee members as the business must be conducted with the constituency (Villagers) allowed to observe.  This law did not deter the 3rd Gens District Manager, Richard Bair, and the Vice-President of community relations for The Villages, Gary Lester, from conducting private closed-door discussions with each individual AAC member prior to the public meeting.

It was apparent during the August 12th AAC meeting, by Richard Bair's escalating tone, that the 3rd Gen were not taking "no" for an answer.  The continued threat of a parking garage or a big box store by Bair at said AAC meeting makes one wonder about the tone of those earlier private closed-door discussions.  At one point during the meeting a standing vote of the approximately 200 attendees was called to which all, but 3 people stood to represent their resounding "NO" vote. The shock of the 4-1 vote at the end of the meeting sent a clear message to Villagers to wake up and get involved.

The result of the AAC meeting 4-1 vote now allows for the 3rd Gen to build 286 age restricted apartments anywhere they have Villages land, north of 466.  They will retain most of the amenity privilege fee to the tune of over half million dollars/year and in exchange will provide 1 pool (size not specified), walking paths, courts (types and numbers unknown), and update the existing Hacienda postal station in some manner. While a restaurant was mentioned in The Villages Daily Sun, no restaurant was included in the AAC amended agreement. The addition of potentially over 500 additional Villagers that will use all Villages amenities and not pay toward them, is hardly equitable exchange for 1 pool, etc.

This is a major blow to Villagers' promised Lifestyle and is anticipated to increase as the 3rd Gen prepares for their retirements and the ultimate question of, what to do with Grandfather's dream.

Villagers are retired but not stupid or dead, yet. We must begin to learn about the Villages and get involved before more of the promised and purchased Lifestyle is taken.

Sincerely,
Patsy Oburn

 

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