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Speeding, passing zones and road obstructions come up at Captiva workshop

By Staff | Mar 15, 2018

TIFFANY REPCKI Members of the Captiva Community Panel listen to a resident in the audience during the third workshop held on March 13 as part of the panel's process for updating the Captiva Code.

Speeding, vehicle passing zones and roadway obstructions were some safety concerns voiced at the Captiva Community Panel’s third public workshop, though attendees debated the seriousness of each.

As part of its Captiva Code update, the panel scheduled four workshops in February and March to obtain feedback from the community on a range of potential island-related issues. Property owners on Captiva have also been asked to participate in an online survey so the panel can collect more input.

Held on March 13, the third workshop focused on transportation, traffic, road and parking.

“We’re looking for the community’s concerns, issues about these particular things. We can then develop recommendations for the county for changes to our code,” panel President David Mintz told those who attended the workshop. “We want to just hear what you have to say about anything that concerns you.”

Resident Hall Miller explained that he bikes Captiva Drive and rarely has an issue with drivers.

“The reality for me, as a biker, I think people are generally very thoughtful in pulling out,” he said. “The issue is not speed. It’s what we talked about earlier, what’s in the roadway, whether it be sand or bushes.”

Another resident disagreed, stating that in the early morning hours the stretch along ‘Tween Waters Inn is dangerous as motorists are speeding to work. She suggested more presence from law enforcement.

“To keep people from going too fast and endangering those of us who are walking,” she said.

Resident Joan Sherman pointed to the passing and no passing zones on Captiva.

“The passing, I think, is a big problem about the speeding,” she said.

One man suggested installing speed bumps or something to slow down speeders.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mike Sawicki explained that such control devices are typically not used because they alter the surface of the road and can create a safety hazard for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Another concern discussed was youth driving golf carts.

Resident Tom Libonate explained that he lives off Wiles Drive and routinely sees children driving golf carts on the straightaway like it is a “drag strip.” He noted that one day someone is going to get hurt.

Libonate cited a recent incident when he unsuccessfully tried to catch up to one and stop them.

“It’s a YOLO golf cart, six people, six kids on it and I can’t say we had someone on it over 14 or 16 (years old),” he said. “I think it’s an issue.”

Libonate suggested perhaps limiting the number of carts vendors can rent out.

Richard Sonking agreed.

“It’s become a recreational vehicle,” he said. “We do have a problem with the number of carts on the island, the number of kids driving them, the speeding.”

On the topic of golf carts, Mintz questioned gas-powered compared to electric.

“Is that an issue? Should we figure out a way to transition over time to electric golf carts (on the island)?” he asked.

Sonking supported the idea.

“I’d love to see the gas-powered carts eliminated,” he said.

Panel Member Jay Brown noted that gas-powered golf carts are evolving to become quieter. He also pointed out that vendors prefer them over electric ones because they do not requiring charging.

“There’s a real issue trying to rent electric golf carts,” Brown said.

In terms of parking, Sherman voiced concern about people parking in vacant lots then trespassing across private property to get to the beach. She said she has contacted the LCSO on occasion.

“If it’s on private property, it’s a trespassing issue,” Sawicki said, adding that if the illegal parking is occurring on one’s own property, one has every right to call a tow truck and have it removed.

In the case of a neighboring property, he suggested reaching out to the owner.

Sawicki explained that an absent owner can give their neighbor or property manager the power to act on their behalf. A letter can even be filed with the LCSO, permitting deputies to trespass strangers.

He noted that after receiving a trespass warning, a person can be arrested for future incidents.

Panel Member Antje Baumgarten brought up contractor vehicles parked along the roads.

Sawicki explained that the law allows them to be parked only when actively loading or unloading. He noted that deputies do run them off, but they try to give people “an appropriate amount of leeway.”

Mintz asked whether fishing off Blind Pass bridge is a problem for pedestrians and bikers.

“I know some of my neighbor do complain,” panel Secretary Mike Mullins said.

He noted that the amount of trash is also a problem.

“There’s an issue,” Mullins said.

He suggested eliminating fishing from the bridge or allowing it only on one side of the bridge.

On the topic of road kill left on the streets, some agreed it should be looked into.

“There are bunnies on the road and they stay there until they disintegrate,” Sonking said, noting that some get picked up by residents over time. “I don’t think it’s a major problem, but it’s a problem.”

Resident John Dale voiced concern about putting too many regulations in place on Captiva.

He pointed to the island businesses and such that could suffer.

“People come here because they can’t afford to live here and then they leave,” Dale said.

The final public workshop will be held on March 28 at 10 a.m.

The topic is the island’s historic development pattern.

The deadline for the online survey is March 30.

For more information, visit www.captivacommunitypanel.com.