The Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District approved a request for proposals last week for culvert construction on North D Road at 34th Place North, which would connect four property owners to North D Road, replacing an old culvert.
The request asks for proposals both with and without guardrails; property owners responsible for paying for the project said they might cost too much.
At the May 14 meeting, Jim Noth with Erdman Anthony of Florida said the project will replace the existing 36-inch diameter pipe with a 72-inch pipe to comply with district requirements. The plan also calls for replacing another, smaller culvert coming in from a side ditch to the west. The new culvert will resemble one recently finished at 148th Terrace North, which includes guardrails.
Supervisor Frank Schiola asked if guardrails are required, and District Administrator Clete Saunier said they’re highly recommended because of how close the canal is.
“If we’re going to be upgrading culverts from what we’ve been doing for decades, if it’s not a policy, how are we going to enforce it?” Schiola asked. “It seems like it’s adding undue cost on homeowners who have to foot the bill.”
Chairman Dave DeMarois added that the board also has to consider safety.
D Road resident Todd McLendon said he’s one of those affected and does not want to spend the money for guardrails. McLendon pointed out that the LGWCD had just finished a paving project without guardrails because the district said it couldn’t afford them.
McLendon said he is only one of four homeowners, but urged that the property owners all express how they feel about guardrails.
Supervisor Don Widing asked that the RFP be written with the guardrail cost listed separately. “Can’t we reconstruct the RFP so that the guardrail would be an option?” he asked. “Then we can talk to the landowners paying for this and find out if they need it.”
Saunier said he was concerned that the design engineer might be reluctant to draw up an RFP with the guardrail optional due to possible liability.
Widing said he was not comfortable going forward with the RFP until they know whether the guardrail is required.
Schiola said that if the district is paying, the guardrail should be included, but if residents are paying, it should be optional. However, he said he did not want to hold things up. “This does need to get done,” Schiola said, noting that the project “has been going on a couple of years, which I think is ridiculous.”
Supervisors also discussed possible liability to the district if culvert crossings are approved without guardrails, and if guardrails are optional now, whether they should be required.
Saunier said he’d change the bid documents and present recommendations at the next meeting in June. Beforehand, they would also hear a presentation from their attorney, who would research the guardrail requirement.
Loxahatchee Groves Town Councilman Ron Jarriel said he felt guardrails serve a good purpose, but if residents are paying for it, that should be taken into account. “Times are harder now,” he said. “We don’t need to place more burden on residents.”
Schiola made a motion to get bids both ways. The motion carried 4-1 with Widing opposed.
In other business:
• LGWCD attorney Mary Viator reported on the status of a recent property owner’s complaint sent to Gov. Rick Scott from a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office e-mail address that included allegations of mismanagement and corruption on the board regarding speed humps installed in a recent paving project.
Viator said the State Attorney’s Office wrote that there was nothing of a criminal nature in the allegations and did not intend to pursue it. She also received a call from the Commission on Ethics in response to inquiries from supervisors about the charges. Viator said the commission’s representative couldn’t determine what conduct was at issue other than a statute on misuse of public position.
“He indicated even if a formal complaint was brought, there was no element specified to establish [corruption] as defined in the statute,” Viator said, adding that he further indicated that his office intended to close the file on the case.
• The board also ratified approval of a resurfacing project for F Road that filled potholes that have developed since the county paved it a few years ago.
The board had a special meeting April 27 to approve the F Road OGEM resurfacing proposal from North Florida Emulsions. The F Road OGEM resurfacing work was conducted May 5, repairing all potholes and crumbling pavement edges. A new coating of fog seal was sprayed over the entire road surface. All speed hump repainting was to be completed by May 11. The project cost $19,925.
• Saunier also gave a detailed report on speed humps installed during recent OGEM paving projects, finding that all but one met the design criteria tolerance of three-quarter inch above or below the 3-inch requirement. Saunier said the hump that was too high was by a quarter-inch and not deemed to be a problem because the consultant anticipates it to flatten over time.
The report followed several complaints from residents that the humps were too high and inconsistent. The survey was done on the recently completed projects on North A, North C and North D roads; North Road; South C Road, where one hump was found to be an inch above the standard; and Collecting Canal Road.