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The Villages
Friday, December 3, 2021

$100,000 additions needed at $3+ million Brownwood Woodshop

Another $100,000 will be spent at the recently opened Brownwood Woodshop that has already cost more than $3 million.

The Brownwood Woodshop, located across from the Eisenhower Recreation Center, is a sister facility to the wood shop on Rolling Acres Road and operated by The Villages Woodworking Club. Its members are the only ones who can use the two facilities. The club has 1,300 members with another 275 on a waiting list.

A problem has been discovered at the new facility because 55-pound metal barrels in which wood shavings and dust are collected are “too heavy” for the members to lift. The average age of club members is about 75.

Metal barrels are required for the dust collection system at the new facility, which opened in October. Plastic barrels are used at the Rolling Acres Road facility.

“Steel drums are a safety requirement (spark protection caused by sawdust within the containers), however they are extremely heavy and difficult to manually move, lift and empty. Currently it takes two persons to move, lift and dump the shavings, which must be done at least on an hourly basis during operation. Due to the age demographics of the residents, the manual emptying process is problematic due to the weight and required physical exertion. This process is so labor intensive, the club had considered closing operations until such time as enhancements can be made to the system,” said Bruce Brown of District Property Management.

The new collection system would cost $25,000.

In addition, three metal canopies on the exterior of the building are needed to fully cover and protect the dust collection system. The canopies will cost $75,000.

The woodworking club was intimately involved in the construction and design of the new wood shop.

PWAC Chairman Don Wiley asked how the club missed this in the design phase.

“I am concerned about spending another $100,000 on a project that has already cost us more than $3 million,” Wiley said.

Club President Mike Borfitz said the canopies and dust collection system are necessary.

“If they get wet, those wood shavings are just like concrete,” Borfitz said.

She said emptying the barrels every hour is an absolute necessity.

“You would be surprised at how much sawdust is created,” she said.

Resident Rick Larson wondered how the engineer – and the club – could have missed the need for the expensive canopies.

“It’s Central Florida. It rains,” he said.

PWAC member Don Brozick, of Community Development District 11, worried about additional potential future costs.

“Is there anything else we should be aware of?” he asked.

PWAC’s chairman, who also serves as chairman of the Community Development District 10 Board of Supervisors, said he understood the need for the changes, but was uncomfortable at how the need had been determined so late in the process.

“I want to make sure we’re not picking up the tab because we’ve got the biggest wallet,” Wiley said.

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