Times may be tight, but the Sarasota City Commission will spare no expense to upgrade a gateway intersection to downtown that Vice Mayor Terry Turner called “shoddy.”
At its Oct. 17 regular meeting, the five commissioners unanimously approved a $16,000 landscape improvement to be performed at the southwest corner of Ringling Boulevard and Palm Avenue, the site of a future roundabout.
Both Savoy Condominium residents and Church of the Redeemer officials have complained of the landscaping in that corner.
The $16,000 landscaping proposal, which city staff didn’t recommend, called for a more significant landscaping and planting project that would cost more to maintain on an annual basis and included mowing, fertilization and pest-control costs. The proposal city staff recommended cost $9,000 and didn’t include the southwest corner of the intersection.
Capital project city coordinator Neil Gaines didn’t recommend that project because the city usually doesn’t maintain rights of way, even though they are owned by the city.
Vice Mayor Terry Turner, however, said this shouldn’t be an expense on which the city should skimp.
“We will already be maintaining a roundabout and the approaches to it at this intersection,” Turner said. “I voted for this roundabout originally because it’s a shoddy intersection. I think given what we are trying to do downtown, this is a wise expenditure for downtown.”
Turner also suggested the $16,000 cost to maintain the plot of land was overestimated, because the city will already be maintaining the roundabout.
Commissioner Paul Caragiulo agreed, along with the rest of the commission.
“I think it has value and adds better continuity to the project,” Caragiulo said. “I agree we should do it the right way.”
The commission also agreed with a proposal to improve the irrigation system near the Church of the Redeemer property on the northwest corner of the intersection, re-sod the grass and plant flowerbeds around trees on that corner once the roundabout is built.
In exchange for upgrading that corner of the intersection, the church will allow the city to use its parking lot as a staging area for the roundabout’s construction and take over maintenance of the area once it’s upgraded.
The four-lane roundabout construction project at Palm Avenue and Ringling Boulevard is expected to begin some time next month and be complete in July. Roundabout construction will also begin next month at Pineapple Avenue and Ringling Boulevard. Traffic will run constantly through both intersections, but delays are likely.