The Marathon City Council has yet to pinpoint the best option to ease pedestrian access to businesses along 53rd Street next to the Publix Shopping Center.

City Manager Roger Hernstadt presented two options along with cost estimates during Tuesday night’s regularly scheduled meeting, but the council asked Hernstadt to bring back conceptual drawings at the March 23 meeting.

As prepared by the city’s Public Works Manager Carlos Solis, the first option suggests construction of a sidewalk along the east side of 53rd Street from Sombrero Blvd. to the front of the Publix building. Solis’s memo advised that this option was acceptable to both the owner of the shopping center as well as the Publix general manager.

Construction of the sidewalk on the east side of the road carries a significantly lower price tag but would result in the loss of 14 parallel parking space that Hernstadt suggested would be a great loss for the businesses on the west side of the street as well as Publix and those stores in the adjacent shopping center.

“It is my recommendation that we proceed with the sidewalk and the associated drainage adjustments we’ll have to make on the west side of the street, and we’d only lose two parking spaces,” he told the council, adding that the budget for the project would not exceed $50,000.

Solis’s memo included three initial cost estimates – $18,965.80 if done by city crews and $24,205.20 if out-sourced for construction on the east side – and for a sidewalk to be built on the west side of the street, $48,397.75.

“I agree we don’t need to put any undue burden on our small businesses right now,” said Councilman Rich Keating.

Before the council voted to move forward with either option, Councilman Dick Ramsay told Hernstadt he’d like to fully review the cost estimates as well as view conceptual drawings for both options.

Councilman Pete Worthington asked out of which set of funds the money would come for the project, and Finance Director Peter Rosasco assured him there was ample funding in the Street Maintenance infrastructure fund.

In other business:
• Hernstadt also provided council with an outline of a plan on how to define capital improvement projects throughout the city and then seek appropriate funding for clearly defined projects (see sidebar).

Worthington asked Hernstadt whether or not public workshops would be factored into the process, and Hernstadt assured that workshops for the council as well as the public would be included as part of the planning process.

• Land Acquisition Committee member Frank Greenman reported to council that though his committee is continuing to increase the city’s available affordable housing stock with the purchase of three duplexes on 64th Street as well as single lots on 64th, 65th and 73rd Streets – two of which have ready to build permits in place – decreasing funding and no active market for affordable housing have put a lot of the committee’s actions on hold until the real estate market recovers.

• Mayor Ginger Snead appointed Dr. Sherri Van Houten as her representative to the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. Her previous appointment had been unable to remain actively involved on the Nearshore Waters Committee, so she recommended Capt. Diego Cordova to serve in that capacity. She also appointed David Grego to the Code Board.

• The council voted Vito Gigglio and Steve Pearson at-large members serving on the Code Board.

• Vice Mayor Mike Cinque told the council he was concerned over announcements that wind storm insurance providers will no longer cover vacant mobile homes or commercial structures built over the water.

“This is gonna cause great stress to our landlords,” he suggested, adding that establishments like Dockside Lounge and Porky’s Bayside will be ineligible to receive wind insurance.

“We need to be involved as a whole with the county and contact FEMA as a unified voice,” he continued.

Hernstadt told the council that since the state legislature is currently in session, now is the ideal time to contact Marathon’s lobbying firm to support the issue in Tallahassee.


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