Residents, CDD seek sidewalk solution

 

Residents, CDD seek sidewalk solution

 

Date: June 4, 2009
by: Pam McTeer | News Editor

 
 

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Five-year-old Cameron Tanguay darted down the sidewalk on his scooter before screeching to a halt and pushing his vehicle into a clump of grass where the pathway stopped suddenly.

“They can’t stay on the sidewalks,” his mother Laura Tanguay said. “It’s a safety issue. This can be a busy
road.”

In Greenbrook East, residents are living in partially finished neighborhoods, where vacant lots dot the subdivision. Sidewalks start at one home only to stop at undeveloped lots and resume at the next driveway.

But soon, the situation may be remedied.

About seven months ago, Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch agreed to front about $110,000 to pay for the installation of concrete sidewalks on vacant lots, which would provide connectivity for residents. The District 4 CDD board will vote June 11 on how to move forward with the project.

As proposed, the lots’ owners would be assessed for the sidewalks at about $1,400 per lot, and SMR would be paid back when the taxes are paid this coming year.

The board may vote on its original proposal to build concrete sidewalks on both sides of the road or move forward with one of three alternatives offered by homebuilder Britt Williams of Bruce Williams Homes last month.

At the CDD meeting May 21, Williams said paying the assessment would be a financial hardship for his company and offered the board three alternatives to consider: shell paths on both sides of the road, concrete sidewalks on one side of the road or shell sidewalks on one side of the roadway.

The alternatives would lessen the financial blow to homebuilders while meeting residents’ needs, he said.
Williams said shell pathways would be more cost effective, more eco-friendly and easier to maintain.

“I appreciate (the CDD) listening to issues and we understand that the community would like to have a continuous sidewalks and we could understand why they would want something like that,” Williams said. “We are just offering a few alternatives to give them that would be easier to handle in these economic times.”

District supervisors have said they would like to accommodate the homebuilders’ request for relief, but their primary concern is doing what is best for the community.

“If there’s a way for us to first meet the needs of the citizens and we can also reach some sort of compromise with the builders, we’re happy to do that,” Supervisor Michael Griffin said.

Greenbrook residents have expressed opposition to shell sidewalks, which they say would be less attractive, less safe for children and would do nothing to keep people from parking in vacant lots.

“(Concrete) would be a great start for the continuity of the neighborhood," Preserve resident Dana Sochacki said. "It makes the lots look that much more attractive and maybe easier to sell.”

Supervisors seem to mirror those concerns.

“I strongly feel we must fulfill what we promised to the neighborhood,” Supervisor Anne Fischer said. “(Concrete sidewalks) are supposed to be a convenience that’s part of living here and the rest of us have that in Greenbrook. Really, I think it’s quite important.”

Milt Flinn, president of LWR Communities, agreed, noting that 95% of the community is built out.

“It’s an important part of Lakewood Ranch, and we want to make sure the people in there can enjoy the lifestyle they had hoped to enjoy,” Flinn said.

 He also indicated SMR is agreeable to letting builders pay costs for the improvements back over an extended period of time rather than in one calendar year. He also said SMR has a contractor lined up to do the work the sidewalks once a decision is made.

Contact Pam McTeer at pmcteer@youroberver.com.

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