Meeting to discuss locally preferred alternative for ‘Ding’ Darling transit
A formal presentation and comment session for the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Alternative Transportation Study will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 26 at the Sanibel Community House, located at 2173 Periwinkle Way. The meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m.
At the gathering, the project team will present the Draft Locally Preferred Alternative to members of the public. This alternative, which the public helped generate last year in Phase I of the study, includes non-motorized elements in and near the Refuge along with motorized circulators (including shuttles and/or trams) connecting the Refuge to other areas of the islands.
The Alternative Transportation in Parks and Public Lands Program (ATPPL), designed to assist national parks and public lands in managing their visitation while meeting the primary goal of providing sanctuary habitats for various wildlife, has four primary goals:
• Conserve natural, historical and cultural resources
• Reduce congestion and pollution
• Improve visitor mobility and accessibility
• Enhance the visitor experience
According to Jennifer Dorning of Cella, Molnar & Associates, doors will open at 4:30 p.m. to allow the public to view display boards and review project information. At 5 p.m., there will be a formal presentation of the Draft Locally Preferred Alternative. This will be followed by a question-and-answer session, which is expected to take place between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.
Representatives from the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, the City of Sanibel, the Lee County Department of Transportation (LeeTran) and members of the consultant team will be available to answer questions and take comments.
Confirmed participants include David Baxter and Scott Pringle from the project’s steering committee, Mike Horsting from LeeTran, Judie Zimomra and Jimmy Jordan from the City of Sanibel and Toni Westland from the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
In July 2008, LeeTran — in cooperation with its partners, the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and the City of Sanibel — was awarded a grant through the Federal Transit Administration under the Alternative Transportation in Parks and Public Lands Program (ATPPL, now funded by the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Public Parks Program). The program is designed to assist national parks and public lands — including wildlife refuges — in managing their visitation, while at the same time protecting habitat for wildlife and flora.
Prior to the start of Phase II of the study, the project had been considering four alternatives: taking no action and leaving the refuge transportation system untouched; changing the transportation system within the refuge only; changing the transportation system within the refuge as well as across the island; and changing the transportation system on the island only.
Alternative transportation strategies aim to protect environmental resources by reducing congestion, pollution and automobile dependency. The Refuge, LeeTran and the City of Sanibel desire transportation options that will complement the mission, goals and objectives of the Refuge and Sanibel Plan and improve transportation conditions on Sanibel. This public information meeting is being held to give people an opportunity to express their views concerning the Draft Locally Preferred Alternative.
To review project documentation prior to the workshop, visit the project website at www.dingdarlingtransportation.com.