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Marco’s Bike Path Ad-Hoc Committee may have set a record for a city advisory board at their meeting Friday morning at City Hall. Gavel to gavel, except there were no gavels in sight, the meeting began at 9 a.m., or perhaps a minute or two early, even before Public Works Director Tim Pinter, staff liaison for the group, had a chance to sit down, and wound up just 35 minutes later, even with a fairly lengthy discussion in the public comment portion.
It probably helped to move things along that only two of the bike path committee’s 10 members were present for the session, an extreme example of the difficulty many of the citizen advisory boards have finding enough members to hold a meeting during the summer doldrums. Unlike bodies such as the Code Enforcement Board, which has the power to levy fines, the bike path committee does not have a minimum requirement of members present to hold an official meeting, said Chairman Al Musico. The only other committee member present was Matt Walthour, who owns the Island Bike Shop.
Musico reported on the status of committee projects, including the Safe Routes to School perimeter. He reminded Pinter they had promised Tommie Barfield Elementary principal Dr. Jory Westberry that Phase 1, drainage problems around the school would be fixed, which Pinter assured the committee was on his to do list. Phase 3, along Yellowbird St., has been approved by the Metropolitan Planning Organization and will likely be funded to the tune of $1.5 million, said Musico.
He was slated to make a presentation to City Council at their meeting on Monday. At that session, Musico said, “we should see some sense of where the City Council sits. We’re asking for endorsement of the Collier County plans. Do you support the work done so far (on island bike paths and safety)? Do you want us to continue?”
As far as continuing, the issue will be how much money can be allotted to their efforts, said Pinter. A lot of the bike path improvements could be seen either as “life safety” concerns, or as “nice to haves” but not crucial when the city is trying to cut costs, he said.
“When you’re up against a police vehicle, just as an example, it can be hard to justify.”
The committee expressed concern with safety for cyclists on Winterberry Drive, both at the bridge west of Heathwood and at the intersection of Winterberry and Barfield, which has been changed from a three-way stop to a “regular T intersection, with a stop sign on Winterberry,” said Pinter.
“It’s a safety hazard, particularly for cyclists,” said Walthour. “If a cyclist is going south on Barfield, I guarantee he’s going to get t-boned.”
The change has already been made, said Pinter.
“The problem is, people who like things aren’t very vocal, and people who are against them are very vocal,” he said.
In public comments, Claudia Klug of Hernando Drive engaged with committee members and city staff, including zoning administrator Joe Ervin as well as Pinter. She was wondering is going on with the sidewalks near Tigertail Beach.
Sidewalks are being widened to eight feet, she was told, and lawns and sprinklers would be carefully returned to their previous condition, as long as they complied with city codes. Pinter promised that before work begins, residents would be notified, with fliers going out to the neighborhood and plans posted on the city’s web site.
As the meeting closed, bike path committee chairman Musico mentioned that he, personally, does not ride a bike. He can walk or drive to the group’s next meeting, scheduled for Aug. 9.