Although residents aren't all supportive, the city believes installing sidewalks will improve connectivity.
If you’re a Lido Key resident traveling to the beach on foot these days, you might have to walk in the street for part of your journey.
Later this summer, though, the city intends to add a walking path to segments of two streets near Lido Beach in hopes that it will improve the barrier island’s pedestrian connectivity.
In April, city staff informed Lido Key residents about plans to install sidewalks on Polk and Ford drives. City Transportation Planner Megan Lui said the project is part of a Citywide Sidewalk Connectivity Plan, which was created in 2016 to identify gaps in the transportation network where sidewalks need to be constructed.
Lui said the proximity to the beach was a reason why the city wanted to begin work on these Lido Key streets. The connectivity plan proposes installing additional sidewalks on Lido in the future along Benjamin Franklin Drive between Tyler Drive and Taft Drive.
Carl Shoffstall, president of the Lido Key Residents Association, said he personally preferred to have the option of walking along a sidewalk rather than in the street when he’s getting around his neighborhood.
“People fly down these side streets,” Shoffstall said of drivers.
But he said the city project has drawn a mixed reaction from Lido Key residents, some of whom aren’t as excited to see a new sidewalk in a residential area.
“There’s some people who don’t like it, but it’s all on right of way,” Shoffstall said.
Lui said that that’s not an uncommon reaction. In October, a group of Sarasota residents on Hickory Avenue north of downtown raised objections to the city’s plans to install sidewalks along the road, located west of North Tamiami Trail.
At a City Commission meeting, multiple speakers suggested it would detract from the character of the neighborhood.
Lui said some resident critics of the city’s sidewalk plans might not be aware that the land in front of their homes is city-owned right of way. Still, Lui said the city attempts to be sensitive to neighborhood input.
“We really want these sidewalks to be successful, so we try to work with property owners as much as possible to accommodate their needs,” Lui said.
The city’s project team has a meeting this week to discuss the timing of the Lido construction.
Lui said the project should be complete this summer.