Sidewalks Coming to Downtown
The Local Planning Agency held their first meeting in nearly three months on June 9, 2020 using the Zoom virtual meeting platform. All seven members participated remotely: Megan Heil, Chair, Jane Plummer, Vice-Chair, Dan Hughes, Scott Safford and Tim Smith were joined by new members Forrest Critser and Karen Swanbeck.
Critser introduced himself by saying that his son is the Pastor at Beach Baptist Church. “We just love the beach and love the people. I’m always willing and able to serve in my capacity wherever I can in our town because I love our town.”
Swanbeck said she has lived on the island about 30 years. “We had an insurance business for many years and my husband and I built a real estate practice and raised our kids on the island. I was very involved in the original town (government) serving on several committees. I had the time and desire to be back involved with our town.”
The primary reason for the LPA meeting this week was to review and approve the 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and the 2021 Capital Plan that Town Council will include in the annual budget. Town Planner Jason Green explained that the LPA is responsible for evaluating the CIP as part of their oversight role regarding the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code. He pointed out that while it’s a 5-year plan, “we’re trying to spend some money to get projects done in the next 2-3 years.”
The CIP projects planned for the 20-21 Fiscal year and funded by Impact Fees include $100,000 for the expansion of Bay Oaks to utilize 2639/2641 Estero Blvd; $863,965 for downtown sidewalks including Fifth St. from Crescent St. to the base of the bridge, Crescent Street from Estero to First St., and First, Second and Third Streets between Crescent St. and Old San Carlos Blvd. plus road construction of Shelby Lane (behind the Flamingo Inn off of Flamingo St.)
General Revenue funds are budgeted for $120,600 for an additional 19 mooring balls in the town’s mooring field and $25,000 for the design of an upgrade of Bay Oaks ball field lights in 20-21 and the construction of them in 21-22 for $230,000.
Grants will fund $360,000 for a traffic light at Old San Carlos & Estero Blvd. and Stormwater Utility fees will fund $150,000 per year for the next five years for swale reclamation on a number of side streets. Green explained that the funding for all CIP projects is already, “in hand.”
The LPA also received a second list of projects, a Capital Expense Plan, that Green explained are not part of the CIP but are part of the town’s capital budget.
That list included some big ticket items including $1 million loan for Bayside Park work, $3.4 million loan for Times Square work; $5.4 million loan for Bay Oaks work. The list includes several Town Hall building projects and about $102,000 for Bay Oaks pool projects. The largest item was $6 million for beach renourishment. There is also $75,000 for replacement of the chamber broadcast system, or as Heil quipped, “You know the crappy microphones we all have where you hear every third word.”
Beaches & Swales
Plummer asked Green about timing of beach renourishment, and he replied that he would have to ask Chadd Chustz, the town’s environmental contractor. She also asked what would happen in cases where people had begun using the swale areas.
Green explained that the swales involved were in the public right-of-way next to the street, adding that 10-15 years ago there were more swales but people have filled them in, so there’s nowhere for storm water to drain. Hughes seconded Green. “From the standpoint of the environment, it’s been established that these swales are the most effective way to improve water quality of runoff into the back bay. This is a very important project for the town.”
Heil announced that Tim Smith was moving and the Tuesday meeting would be his last LPA meeting, after which Smith thanked the committee and commented that he appreciated the experience and learned quite a bit, wishing everyone a safe and prosperous life.
The LPA plans to meet in-person sometime during the week of July 20, 2020 in order to hold public hearings on variance requests so they are ready for Town Council’s August 3 meeting.