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Council sticks with Surfside decision

By Staff | Apr 16, 2013

Mayor John Sullivan had second thoughts on council’s decision last week to spend $46,000 to work on the intersection of Surfside Boulevard and Beach Street.

Sullivan on Monday requested that council revisit on the grounds that neither the consultants, nor the public didn’t get to speak on the issue, and that the decision was “hasty.”

Council voted to deny a motion that would have instructed the city manager to follow through on a request that Dave Douglass & Associates, consultants on that intersection, give a presentation at a future meeting.

Sullivan said he didn’t like the way the decision was made, which was brought forth as an addendum, without hearing from experts or the public.

“We made a hasty decision on Surfside. I’d like to investigate this further and use our consultants,” Sullivan said.

Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz added that at the Transportation Advisory Council meeting on March 20, it was voted that Douglass & Associates provide its findings to council.

“From my understanding, council missed its duty and that’s to set policy,” Chulakes-Leetz said. “No one here is an expert on road safety.”

Chulakes-Leetz said the question for council is to simply ask “Does it meet specifications or does has the city been in violation of the Florida ‘Greenbook?”‘

The greenbook is the manual of uniform minimum standards for design, construction and maintenance for streets and highways, according to the FDOT website.

“Do we have a defect in the road that could take lives?” Chulakes-Leetz asked.

Councilmember Marty McClain seemed to take that as an affront against city staff.

“I take issue saying staff isn’t qualified. We have experts who do this. Standards change,” McClain said. “I’ve driven the road, you could get in trouble there, but there are a lot of streets like that.”

Chulakes-Leetz offered to withdraw his seconded motion if council would listen to the presentation, but council had made up its mind. The motion by Sullivan failed 5-3.

City Council approved the expenditure of $46,000, and the check was cut this week, City Manager John Szerlag said, meaning council’s options to revisit were limited.

The money will go toward rumple strips and improved markings and signage in the area, as well as a limited guard rail, the removal of the poles around the corner and the removal of the newspaper stands.

Most of those improvements can be done by the city.

Douglas & Associates gave three options, of which the TAC chose the cheapest of the three, which would include guardrails and other improvements.

Alexie Krill was killed last September when she failed to make the turn and launched into a deep canal. It was the second fatality there since 2005 and the fourth known incident there.

“The council didn’t see the presentation and didn’t get to ask questions. I wanted to give them and the public a chance to speak,” Sullivan said. “I didn’t think we did it the right way. It’s one thing to draw a conclusion from a police report, it’s another to talk to an expert.”