Response to Starwood - The Bad Water at Harmony

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Geo

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Aug 24, 2006, 9:02:25 PM8/24/06
to HarmonyFL
This issue doesn't appear next in the sequence of responses given by
Bob Geimer. But since the water issue has already been brought to the
fore during last night's TV broadcast by WFTV news, I thought it makes
sense to present this response now rather than later.

When our neighbor John Pozzi was approached by Greg Warmoth of WFTV to
discuss the problems with Mr. Pozzi's builder, Royal Development, Mr.
Pozzi took the opportunity to share with Mr. Warmoth the other problems
we face in Harmony. The water problem is just one of many. He was
out-of-town at the time, so Mr. Pozzi suggested that Mr. Warmoth
contact me about the water problem.

Mr. Pozzi called me a few days ago about his conversation with Mr.
Warmoth, so I wasn't surprised when Mr. Warmoth called me himself
yesterday morning to ask if he could drop by to talk. I was under the
impression that he just wanted to ask me a few questions and see
whatever documentation I have collected. So naturally, I was a little
surprised when Mr. Warmoth showed up with his cameraman. But the water
problem is real and it needs to be fixed, so I agreed to talk on
camera. What follows are details that were not covered during the
interview.

On March 31, 2006 Bob Geimer of Starwood posted "Harmony Development
Statements That Constitute Broken Promises", which is his response to
the post of the same title submitted on March 5, 2006. What follows is
the section "The Bad Water at Harmony":

"Question/Claim: "Bad Water in Harmony. The water in Harmony stinks,
literally! We all know this. We've been told it's just sulfur, but we
now have official evidence that there is more to it than that. Harmony
Development built the water system together with the Harmony CDD (which
is controlled by Harmony Development). What is Harmony Development
doing to help resolve the water problem in Harmony?"

Response: The CDD funded the construction of the water treatment
facility which was designed, engineered, permitted and constructed in
compliance with all regulatory requirements of the applicable review
agencies. The Toho Water Authority began notifying residents of Harmony
in March, 2004 and continues to send residents an update every ninety
days regarding the water quality and future upgrades. The last written
update sent to all residents is dated December 7, 2005. As discussed
with TOHO, this is not an issue with the treatment facility. It is an
issue with the natural substances in the ground water supply and is not
an isolated issue for Harmony, but affects several surrounding areas of
Florida, including Osceola County. We have had several meetings with
TOHO to discuss this matter and continue to offer our assistance to
them in anyway."

After we moved-in to Harmony (July of 2004) we quickly discovered that
the water stinks and it tastes bad. In March of 2005 we learned that
our water also has elevated levels of contaminants that in sufficient
quantities are hazardous to human health.

Here we are a year and a half later and the water has not improved. The
water still stinks. The water still tastes bad and it is still unfit
for young mothers to drink. In fact, the variety and the levels of
contaminants have actually been increasing since the problem was first
reported!

So what more than just lip service has Harmony Development actually
paid to help expedite a resolution to this problem? They donated
"$4,000,000" in land for the new school (which is good, even if the
actual value of the land is only a fraction of that amount), so why
can't they donate something to help Toho fix the problems that
obviously existed when Harmony Development created the water facilities
in Harmony in first place?

This issue rose to even greater significance when it was brought to the
attention of Harmony Development in April of 2005 that although Toho
had installed six bottled water dispensers in the Harmony Neighborhood
School (to replace water fountains that could no longer used by the
children), the children were still drinking the bad water from the
fountain in the school park (where BY FAR most of the water is consumed
during the school day by kids running around in the hot sun).

When Dr. Rochelle Victor, Principal of the Harmony Neighborhood School
asked Harmony Development (ie. Jim Lentz) to have the water turned off
in the school park (so the kids would have to use the bottled water in
the school), Mr. Lentz refused. He indicated that Toho would have to do
it. But a month earlier Toho had indicated that it was not up to them,
but rather it was up to the school and the developer to have the water
turned-off in the school park.

I felt that this response to the school's principal was unacceptable,
so I sent several letters to Jim Lentz (starting April 26, 2005) asking
him to please turn off the water in the school park. My pleas fell on
deaf ears. Not once did Mr. Lentz even acknowledge my letters. To me
this suggested a cavalier indifference to the fact that our youngest
children continued to drink suspect water from the school park fountain
even after the developer knew full well that 1) Toho had installed
several bottled water dispensers in the school so that the children
could avoid drinking the water there and 2) Toho had stated publicly
that "women of childbearing age may want to seek alternative sources of
water".

After Mr. Lentz's total lack of response, I submitted a letter to the
editor of the "Harmony Notes" newspaper on May 8, 2005 about the water
problem and the suggestion to have the water in the school park
fountain turned-off. The letter was accepted for publication by Steven
Zaretsky, the paper's editor. On June 1, 2005 Mr. Zaretsky told me that
the letter was forwarded to the folks who lay out the newspaper.
However, according to Mr. Zaretsky, my 735 word letter could not be
published in the next issue, due to space limitations. Mr. Zaretsky
further indicated that since the paper had recently undergone a format
change and was now being laid out by the Osceola News Gazette, "we'll
have even less space in the future so I don't think you'll see your
letter published any time soon".

Naturally, when I learned from the Osceola News Gazette folks that they
had never actually received my letter from Mr. Zaretsky (or anyone else
who works for Harmony Development), I was not happy. I even called Roy
Walbridge at the Harmony Welcome Center for an explanation. From the
notes of my conversation with Mr. Walbridge on June 7th, 2005:

"Roy confirmed that there was no 'space issue' with the first edition
of the new paper, my letter was simply never submitted to the Gazette
for publication. In no uncertain terms, Roy stated that without regard
to what Steven Zaretsky may have said or written, Harmony Notes (ie.
Harmony Development) never had any intention of publishing my letter
and they never would. The Harmony Notes newspaper is controlled by the
developer and they will simply not publish anything that may show the
developer in an unfavorable light. Period. It is not relevant that the
'unfavorable light' shines on a public health issue in Harmony (ie.
stinking contaminated water). Roy suggested that he doesn't like how I
tend to 'twist the facts', but he could also not give me a single
example of how I have done so. He also hinted that he may sic his
lawyers on me if I keep it up."

The Harmony newspaper is not the only front in Harmony Development's
apparent effort to hide the truth about the water problem in Harmony. I
have documentation showing that Harmony Development has removed
officially posted public notices about the water problem. In one case
an official water notice was actually replaced with a 50% reduced
photocopy! These public notices are posted by the Toho Water Authority
under the aegis of the federal government (ie. the EPA). Public
notification about Harmony's water problem is required by federal law.

In addition to the tampering with notices posted near the entrance to
Harmony, I have also noted strange and inexplicable occurrences related
to the placement and disappearance of yet another (newer) official
water notice above the school park water fountain. This secondary
notice was the result of almost a year's worth of attempts to first
have the school park water fountain turned-off and then to have it
posted so that residents and non-residents alike could be informed of
the water problem there.

It is bad enough that the water problem exists in Harmony.

It is even worse if the developer is actively involved in suppressing
the truth about it.

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