The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council is considering the award of the design contract for a traffic light at the intersection of Okeechobee Blvd. and D Road.
The light was approved by councilmen Jim Rockett, Ron Jarriel, and Ryan Liang with Councilman Tom Goltzené and Mayor Dave Browning casting dissenting votes.
The council has established a capital improvement budget of $290,000 as no monies are presently available from the county.
An executed interlocal agreement with the county giving permission for the town to construct a traffic control system on Okeechobee Blvd. has not been procured. Any expenditure shall be considered premature and unwarranted.
The light is temporary. The intersection will be significantly modified in the next few years with the four-laning of Okeechobee Blvd.
The project escalation is surprising, as council received at the Sept. 23 council meeting, a petition of 292 registered voters collected in 24 man hours, opposing the town funding the light, since Okeechobee Blvd. is a county road and under the county’s control.
Councilman Liang comes up for re-election in March 2015. Liang represents the third vote in approving the Jarriel/Rockett/LGWCD agenda and participates in block voting with Jarriel and Rockett.
The citizens petition says don’t spend our money on a county road, let the county fund the light, but Councilman Liang has already said yes to special interests.
Councilman Liang has an “in the background” track record and has demonstrated a “tag along” philosophy in his six years on council. The voters of the community have questioned his regular absence as council liaison to the Financial Advisory & Audit Committee and failure to attend county and regional meetings as requested by the community.
He supports the LGWCD, but to please the citizens, he has offered that the control of the roads was the benchmark for dependency. He wants better code enforcement, and to help protect local businesses. He voted for the traffic light, has called for improvement of road maintenance and campaign promised to open the equestrian trails in 2013.
Presently, the trails are not open and the town’s only designated trail is buried in LGWCD mud, of which the LGWCD has labeled as harmful materials. He has touted proactive interaction with the county to steer the Okeechobee widening project as a rural parkway with canopy trees and horse trails.
Will Councilman Liang be proactive in steering the Okeechobee widening project and have the vision not to award the design contract? Will Councilman Liang listen to his constituents and vote against the award of the design contract, or will he surrender those petitioners’ votes in his bid for re-election in March?
Keith Harris, Loxahatchee Groves