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Council investigates paving Nerita Street

By Staff | Jul 20, 2011

Following an inquiry made by several residents, the City Council authorized the city’s staff to take a closer look at the possibility of paving Nerita Street as a special assessment project.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Kevin Ruane explained that he had received a request to reduce the required percentage of property owners — currently 80 percent — required to consent for the establishment of an assessment district to pave Nerita Street.

According to Gates Castle, director of the city’s Public Works Department, residents of the shellrock road have made multiple attempts since 1999 to petition council in favor of paving their street. However, those petition drives have fallen short of the required 80 percent approval of the benefited property owners.

“If the paving of Nerita Street is performed as part of the city’s 2012 Street Resurfacing Project, the estimated cost — including construction, legal, engineering, financial and advertising costs — would be $33,000,” Castle wrote to councilors on July 19. “The city would be responsible for $11,000 of the cost, with the remaining $22,000 being assessed to the 11 benefited property owners at $2,000 each.”

During discussions on the matter, there were talks of lowering the approval percentage to a simple majority (51 percent), or two-thirds (66 percent), although no formal figure was decided upon.

Not all residents of Nerita Street, however, desire a paved roadway. During the public comment portion of the debate, property owner Celeste Bittner expressed her opposition to the plan.

“I respectfully disagree with any decision to reduce the ratio from 80 percent to a simple majority,” she said.

Fellow islander Claudia Burns, who used to reside on Nerita Street, called the debate a “philosophical” difference of opinion.

“This island is all about NOT paving over nature,” said Burns.

John Morris spoke in favor of paving Nerita Street, saying that the dust which gets “kicked up” by passing commercial vehicles may expose residents to potential health concerns.

Ruane asked that Castle and his staff bring back a more detailed cost estimate for the project, adding that the city’s Department of Natural Resources should be consulted and provide input on the environmental impacts of paving the roadway.

The issue is expected to be brought back before the council at it’s Sept. 10 meeting.

In other business, councilors approved awarding the 2011 Street Resurfacing contract to S.T. Wooten Construction in the amount of $702,028.25 and awarded the contract to complete work on the Sanibel-Captiva Road Shared Use Path extension to Seaton Paving and Sitework, Inc. in the amount of $80,196.80.

Council also approved an agreement between the City of Sanibel and Lee County for the implementation of the West Coast Inland Navigation District grant in the amount of $48,822 to be used for materials and equipment for marine enforcement activity.