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Council to focus on redevelopment ideas

By Staff | Feb 8, 2013

JIM LINETTE Crosswalks on Sanibel, like this one on Periwinkle Way at Billy's Bike Rentals, will be studied by Kittelson & Associates in order to make recommendations for improvements to the city.

Sanibel City Council cleared a lot of routine items on its meeting agenda Tuesday, but Mayor Kevin Ruane suggested the commercial redevelopment report needs more time and discussion than it has received at recent meetings.

“I just think we need to sit down as a council and have a discussion on this subject without distraction to get this right,” Ruane said. “There is no silver bullet to fix this and I think we’ve been rushed. I’d like to have a workshop session where redevelopment is the only thing we have to focus on and I want input from the public.”

Even though Planning Department director James Jordan was ready to proceed with the next phase of the report, council unanimously agreed with Ruane’s view and voted to postpone hearing the report. A date for the workshop session will be set and advertised to the public by City Manager Judith Zimomra.

The second reading and public hearing of the proposed ordinance amending the Land Development Code adding sidewalk sale special events also was postponed by council. Ruane and other council members voiced feedback from contacts with people in the community questioning the need to nearly double the number of days businesses could hold sales.

Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce president Ric Base stepped to the podium and reported the view of the chamber’s development committee deemed the amendment unnecessary.

“Businesses have told us they are happy with the current ordinance the way it is,” said Base.

Among the routine items passed by council include approval of an agreement with Kittelson & Associates to study three hot-spot intersections and the city’s existing crosswalk policy. The city will spend $61,958 with the consultant firm to make recommendations to improve or change the crosswalk policy and intersections to make them safer.

The city also will spend $6,200 to install a new ADA-compliant permanent lift at the Sanibel Recreation Center pool.

Council also passed a resolution agreement with SCCF for an easement to construct a new driveway and access road to the Bailey Homestead property, 1442 Periwinkle Way, through the city’s Roadside Park. The agreement also includes granting a 15-foot-wide shared use path easement to the city along the southern boundary of the property.

A contract was awarded to Spectrum Contracting in the amount of $52,316 for exterior painting of the City Hall Complex.

Council also approved a proposal by Babe Ruth Baseball League to establish the Sanibel Baseball Academy at the city-owned fields at Sanibel School. The Academy would operate instructional programs within and outside the league to improve youth skills.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to keep kids on the island and be able to engage in competitive ball and later play at the high school level,” said councilman Doug Congress.

Vice Mayor Mick Denham reported on the status of the citizen fertilizer educational program that is ongoing. He outlined plans to use social media to help distribute the water quality message to stop overfertilization practices.

Denham referred to the islands’ catcher’s mitt syndrome.

“We are at the bottom of the Caloosahatchee River,” Denham said. “Everything that happens up the river ends up here.”

Denham continues to have the full support of council, which assured a significant financial backing toward the project’s stated goal of $150,000 funding from boards and councils throughout the region.

“We lead here,” said Ruane. “We always have. We will continue to pour our resources into this project.”

Water quality is more important to Sanibel than it is to most other areas. The island is surrounded by water. It impacts property values, tourism, fishing and the general quality of life on the island.

“We have to preserve what we have,” said Denham.