Sunday, March 3

Port St. Lucie roundtable discussion looks to increase oversight of shoddy pool contractors

It’s an issue that’s impacted viewers up from Boca Raton to the Treasure Coast shoddy pool contractors.

WPTV has reported multiple times on residents who said they’ve spent thousands of dollars on a deposit, only to be left with a gaping hole in the ground.

Following the arrest of George Galiszewski of Pro Pool Builders in Port St. Lucie in October, state Rep. Toby Overdorf, R-Palm City, and others met Monday with victims to discuss solutions.

A roundtable was held at the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center in Port St Lucie from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“Some folks came to us and were at their wit’s end,” Overdorf said. “They had an open hole in their backyard, or they had money put out towards the dream of a new swimming pool and nothing came of it.”

Travis Leonard, a reputable contractor with A&G Pools in Port St. Lucie, was one of the speakers at the roundtable and said he felt the licensing system needs reworking.

“I think it’s too easy in the state of Florida for a licensed contractor to go ahead and sign a permit for an unlicensed contractor,” Leonard said. “It’s sad because it shouldn’t be that way.”

Joel Dramis, the administrator for the city of Port St. Lucie’s Building Department, was also a speaker who said he feels there needs to be more education for consumers.

“That would give consumers a better idea and better perspective of who to hire and who not to hire,” Dramis said.

Overdorf said he hoped to take all opinions into account to strengthen or change already drafted bi-partisan legislation to increase oversight while fairly protecting reputable contractors.

“How can we prevent this stuff from happening again in the future?” Overdorf said.

“I just hope we go ahead and get some change out of this,” Leonard said.

Jerry Gerber, a Port St. Lucie resident, agreed and said he and his wife hired Pro Pool Builders. They paid a $40,000 deposit, only to be left with a hole in the ground.

“Hills of dirt, debris left, and they didn’t finish the job,” Gerber said.

After paying to fix the job, the Gerbers ended up spending about $100,000 and said he hoped this roundtable would prevent the same thing from happening to someone else.

“Because it was a great hardship, for my wife and I, all of this caused us to take money out of retirement,” Gerber said. “It took over a year extra to get the project done. It was just a great big headache.”

Part of the legislation drafted also looks to increase the state’s recovery fund, which is a pool of money from contractors that helps reimburse victims who lost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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