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Newcomer grabs seat on Tampa Palms board

A veteran of New Tampa politics was elected to the board of the Tampa Palms Owners Association on Wednesday.

Joseph Caetano, who ran unopposed, will represent District 5, the commercial developments and three apartment communities in Areas 1 and 2.

A Tampa Palms resident for nearly 16 years and owner of Bostonian Hair Studio and Day Spa, Caetano is no stranger to the New Tampa political scene. He ran for City Council, County Commission and the state House and was on the board of supervisors of the Community Development District, Tampa Palms' taxing district.

The homeowners association enforces deed restrictions.

In the only contested race of the evening, District 4, TPOA secretary/treasurer Dudley Bryant bested challenger Jack Gaynor. District 4 includes Stonington, Enclave, Tremont, Estates at River Park and Wyndham. Bryant has lived in Tampa Palms for 13 years and has been on the homeowners board for two years. He was one of the founders of Resource Tampa Palms, a group that members say saved Tampa Palms nearly $300,000 a year in landscaping costs.

"It's hard to beat the incumbent when he wants the job," said Gaynor, an Enclave Village resident who promised to address the noise impact of a widened Interstate 75.

Still, board members were impressed.

"We have to take your name," board president Bill Edwards said. "It's rare people volunteer around here."

For example, take District 2. No one ran for the open seat there, leaving the villages of Palma Vista, Faircrest and Manors of Nottingham without a leader. Several village representatives asked the board to consider amending the association's constitution to create an at-large position in the event vacancies on the board arise in the future. As it stands, people can only run for a seat within the district they live.

Edwards was elected to another term in District 3, which includes Ashmont, Coventry, Canterbury, Cambridge, Sanctuary, Reserve and Kensington.

While each of the board members, new and old, addressed a litany of transportation projects and other issues, at least one representative said he hoped to foster a better working relationship with the city of Tampa.

"One of the prime objectives that the TPOA needs to address is to get the attention of city government on some of the problems we're facing," Bryant said. "It's their jurisdiction. It's not the county's. Tampa Palms is part of the city."

To that end, a Tampa Palms focus group will meet with Parks and Recreation Department assistant director Wayne Papy and others at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Compton Park Recreation Building, 16101 Compton Drive. They will discuss the needs of Tampa Palms, including a park in Area 3.

Developer Warren Kinsler has 6 acres of land near the Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse and I-75. The location was once considered a possible site for a $25-million cultural arts center in New Tampa. But when the cultural center couldn't get a firm commitment from Kinsler to donate the land, discussions ceased last March.

In addition to Thursday's meeting, the association will meet with Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio on Friday.

Caetano, the newest board member, is optimistic about building a positive working relationship with Iorio's administration.

"She'll do something for us," he said. "She'll listen."

_ Rodney Thrash can be reached at or 269-5313.