Marco council silent on blind man’s plea for audible street crossing signal

Chairman Larry Magel speaks to the committee. Wednesday, July 27, Marco Island's City Council Budget Sub-Committee met for the last time before presenting their recommendations to the full council. Lance Shearer/Special to the Eagle

Photo by LANCE SHEARER

Chairman Larry Magel speaks to the committee. Wednesday, July 27, Marco Island's City Council Budget Sub-Committee met for the last time before presenting their recommendations to the full council. Lance Shearer/Special to the Eagle

Marco Island City Council’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.

“It never came up in any of the budget discussions,” said Councilman Larry Magel, who served on the budget subcommittee that met for 40 or more hours this summer. “It’s unfortunate because (Castellano) did come to council, but then it went away.”

— A blind Marco Island man’s request for help crossing the street appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

Vincent Castellano, 54, approached the Marco Island City Council in April requesting at least one crossing signal that has a ringing bell or other audible signal, along with the existing lit sign, to help him safely cross the street on his way to the pharmacy near the intersection of Collier Boulevard and Bald Eagle Drive.

“I’ve only been blind three years. I’m still working on it,” said Castellano, who lost his sight to glaucoma. “I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want anyone else to get hurt. There have been some near misses.”

City officials told Castellano they would consider his request during budget discussions this summer.

“It never came up in any of the budget discussions,” said Councilman Larry Magel, who served on the budget subcommittee that met for 40 or more hours this summer. “It’s unfortunate because (Castellano) did come to council, but then it went away.”

However, Castellano isn’t going away. He intends to approach council again during the last budget hearing scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday.

“This is probably one of the toughest decisions I’d ever want to consider,” Magel said.

It’s the expense that makes it difficult. It’s where to start and where such modifications would end depending on the disabilities of various individuals, he said. If someone is blind and deaf, are they going to need a vibration signal, Magel pondered aloud.

Public Works Director Tim Pinter said that upgrading the current pedestrian crossing signals with an audible function would cost between $5,000 and $13,000 per intersection, depending on the level of work done.

“Staff looked at several options for modifications to our existing signal systems. A limited number of systems are compatible with our current video detection equipment and controllers,” Pinter said.

That could be, in-part, why Marco Island’s projected costs may be higher than what Collier County spent to upgrade one of their pedestrian signals this past year.

Collier County has audible pedestrian signals at two intersections. Audible signals — one for crossing each way of the intersection — were installed at Vanderbilt Drive and Wiggins Pass Road in the past year, said Connie Deane, a spokeswoman for Collier County growth management.

Pedestrian signals with audible components were added less than two years ago at the intersection of Santa Barbara and Devonshire boulevards.

“Both were installed at citizens’ request and no grant monies were used,” Deane said, noting that the cost for the two legs of each intersection was approximately $5,000.

Collier County installed the signals when the intersections were undergoing other reconstruction, she said.

Economic challenges caused by declining real estate values among other financial difficulties have caused Marco Island to eliminate roadway maintenance and signal work from the city’s annual budget until at least 2013 or 2014, Pinter said.

“I don’t expect them to do all of them,’’ Castellano said. “I’d like one at the intersections I use the most, which is only two. One (intersection) would be OK too.”

The intersections he uses most are on his way to the CVS Pharmacy on Bald Eagle Drive. The intersections of Elkcam Circle and Collier Boulevard, along with Elkcam Circle and Bald Eagle Drive, have each given him several scares as he frequently walks to refill prescriptions.

“Crossing the street is just a lot harder now. I know I have to deal with it, unfortunately,” Castellano said.

Magel isn’t the only one on council to feel it’s difficult to decide whether to make upgrades at one intersection, all of them or none of them.

“I pray to God someone has the common sense and just does it,” Councilman Wayne Waldack said. “But do you do just one?” he asked and then answered his own question. “We have to do the right thing. The right thing is doing all of them.”

Castellano doesn’t expect that to happen any time soon, but you have to start somewhere, he said.

“I just hope nobody gets hurt or killed for something to happen. That’s unfortunately what’s got to happen sometimes. Let’s hope that’s not the case here,” Castellano said.

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Comments » 15

Johnnymarco49 writes:

Attention Marco Councilors

Do it! This city wastes so much money on things nobody wants or servers no purpose and now you have a chance to something right...Do it. If you had not wasted so much money to put in a "special" system for the lights this request could be done already. Some of you are coming up for election and now is the time to stand up and act like you serve the people of Marco and not just you rich buddies.

Johnnymarco49 writes:

in response to rolomokat:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It probably would be cheaper. You know what would be even cheaper? You could meet this person and escort him to all the places he needs to go everyday in order to survive blind.

happy34145 writes:

--.-..--, --.-.-..-.-.!!!,--.--....--!

26yearsonmarco writes:

I have lost count of the number of times I have witnessed people with good vision, stepping out into moving traffic at the crosswalks with flashing lights in front of the Marriott and having near misses, because they assume drivers are paying attention.
I believe most of us know by now that over 75 percent of drivers today are distracted by all the gadgets they have in their hands, instead paying full attention to their driving.
Trying to accommodate a person with no vision, regardless of everyone’s good intentions, is an accident waiting to happen.

kosherdeli writes:

In response to the rolomokat comment:
Yes it certainly doesn’t take Rocket Scientists to figure out that it would be cheaper for the City to pay to have his prescriptions delivered. But just think how you would feel if you could not go safely to get your Beer or Liquor? The man is a Human Being and has the right too go where he want to go when ever he wants too according to the American with Disabilities ACT!!! This will be a tough decision because the City neglects to enforce many of the ADA Laws; they don’t even ticket the Cars That Park Over The Sidewalks. Theses Cars cause obstacles that make it impossible for people like myself to navigate the sidewalks in our Wheelchairs. Every night there are atleast 4-5 Vehicles blocking the Sidewalk on my street Whiteheart Ave down into Whiteheart Ct. Many don’t know that in Florida it is Illegal to Wake in the Street if the Street has a Sidewalk.

The 2009 Florida Statures:
Title XXIII Motor Vehicles / Chapter 316 State Uniform Traffic Control 316.1945 Stopping, standing or parking is prohibited in specified places: On a sidewalk: On a crosswalk: In front of a public or private driveway.

God Bless the Blind Man and residents let’s stand up and fight for this Mans Right To Access!!!

ajm3s writes:

in response to kosherdeli:

In response to the rolomokat comment:
Yes it certainly doesn’t take Rocket Scientists to figure out that it would be cheaper for the City to pay to have his prescriptions delivered. But just think how you would feel if you could not go safely to get your Beer or Liquor? The man is a Human Being and has the right too go where he want to go when ever he wants too according to the American with Disabilities ACT!!! This will be a tough decision because the City neglects to enforce many of the ADA Laws; they don’t even ticket the Cars That Park Over The Sidewalks. Theses Cars cause obstacles that make it impossible for people like myself to navigate the sidewalks in our Wheelchairs. Every night there are atleast 4-5 Vehicles blocking the Sidewalk on my street Whiteheart Ave down into Whiteheart Ct. Many don’t know that in Florida it is Illegal to Wake in the Street if the Street has a Sidewalk.

The 2009 Florida Statures:
Title XXIII Motor Vehicles / Chapter 316 State Uniform Traffic Control 316.1945 Stopping, standing or parking is prohibited in specified places: On a sidewalk: On a crosswalk: In front of a public or private driveway.

God Bless the Blind Man and residents let’s stand up and fight for this Mans Right To Access!!!

We all have rights to access, but if we are to start with basics, we do not even have sidewalks in front of vacant lots, and you are lamenting lack of audible crosswalks.

And Rolomokt's comment is leaning towards a common sense approach given the fiscal constraints municipalities face. And represents a simple option available to compensate for those with specific disabilities. Audible crosswalks from my last update will cost 10's of thousands of dollars for a single crosswalk and do not past the test of cost effective solutions.

I believe you can list a host of better solutions in lieu of an expensive audible traffic signal. For now, a honking horn is the most audible of street signals and they are found in private, commercial and emergency vehicles that are moving. And in the City of Marco Island, the drivers of these vehicles occasionally blow their horn to serve as a reminder that you are forced to walk in the street, irregardless of crosswalk.

RayPray writes:

in response to rolomokat:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

How about enlisting the Marco Island Strummers to serenade the pedestrians at this crosswalk with their immaginative program of patriotic & inspirational tunes?

happy6 writes:

i've been in many large cities and have never seen ,...or heard...an audible street crossing device. sorry but i just can't see where the city has the bucks to do this now.

Marconian writes:

in response to happy6:

i've been in many large cities and have never seen ,...or heard...an audible street crossing device. sorry but i just can't see where the city has the bucks to do this now.

not to mention the liability factor of this once you install it if it decides to act up and for some reason it does not function the law suit will far out way the cost of the upgrade.if a blind person is hit due to a malfunction traffic signals are not fault proof.

RayNetherwood writes:

Actually, the audible devices are in a good number of larger cities ... what allows them to work reasonably well is that there are small herds of people crossing which helps the otherwise clueless drivers to stop/yield. The thought of a blind person stepping onto any Marco street is unnerving.

But, what happened to family, friends, neighbors, churches, and civic organizations? Instead of asking for costly accommodations (and risky) how about leaning on "your brother" a little?

dc5799 writes:

Watertown Ma. home to the Perkins Scool for the blind has audible traffic lights. When the signal turns red a bell rings to allow the blind person to cross.
It probably cost less than the s----- camera's they bought to check cars coming on to the Island. Where are those camera's anyway

happy6 writes:

dc5799...the cameras are in storage last time anyone asked...which was appx 2 yrs ago...the ex-police chief and his buddy billy moss p---ed away $250k on that debacle.

ajm3s writes:

If you really want to negotiate your way through access regulation. Enjoy!

http://www.access-board.gov/prowac/

Seawaller writes:

Why doesn't the City sell the unused ticket cameras to pay for the audible crossings? Or put up the cameras and use the ticket money to pay for them?

dc5799 writes:

in response to Seawaller:

Why doesn't the City sell the unused ticket cameras to pay for the audible crossings? Or put up the cameras and use the ticket money to pay for them?

Too much for them to comprehend.

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