The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council gave staff direction Tuesday, Oct. 15 on uses for about $375,000 in road maintenance priorities, starting with North B Road, which has long been a bone of contention with some residents.
Town Manager Jamie Titcomb passed out an updated map of town roads and plans for upgrading them, but with no priority designations for maintenance or paving.
Several residents commented on the map and asked for details about their own roads, such as whether their road is public or private. The council did not have all the answers, and Mayor Robert Shorr asked for patience in working out priorities.
“This is our first time really sitting together with these maps and talking it over,” Shorr said. “I think part of understanding… is that the lettered roads cannot be private. Those are thoroughfares. But the other roads, like if they’re a dead-end road, I don’t see why there couldn’t be a program in place where if people want their road private, it could be private. However, there would have to be an ordinance spelled out where your trash would go, where your mailboxes would go and how services would access that property.”
The town’s legislative lobbyist Mary McNicholas pointed out that North B Road and South D Road from Collecting Canal to Southern Blvd. are on the town’s list of legislative priorities for possible grants.
“Speaking as a resident, I think it would be very important for us to be putting our money and our resources toward roads that we are prioritizing,” McNicholas said. “Same way with the drainage. If those are our priorities, then that is where we should be putting our funding and resources.”
She also encouraged the council to consider residents who have been approved for bonding but have not yet received the benefits using the 50-50 cost-sharing funds.
“I think the staff and consultants have done an incredible job trying to help with these roadway classification maps,” McNicholas said. “I know these are works in progress, so please continue to work toward those.”
Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia asked why Town Engineer Larry Peters was not at the meeting, and Titcomb said the evening had been designated for discussion of legislative priorities for road grids.
“Instead of public works telling us which roads they want to do, we need a consensus of which roads we’re prioritizing, so we can take our limited resources and steer them toward those priority areas,” Titcomb said.
He noted that two items had been pulled from the consent agenda for discussion because the cost exceeded what could be approved administratively. The council budgeted $580,000 for road rock, but the two purchase orders for Collecting Canal Road is almost $80,000 per month.
“If you do the math, that $580,000 will go a lot faster than 12 months,” Titcomb said, explaining that prioritizing Collecting Canal Road was a part of sequencing millions of dollars of work that needs to be done over the years to the roughly 56 miles of roads in the town. “What we’re really trying to get to is to [determine] which roads will go first and what resources are going to be put down first.”
He noted that most of drainage projects are aligned along B and D roads, which have received the greatest amount of public and staff comment.
“Because these are decisions I don’t make, and Larry Peters is not supposed to make, you as a council are supposed to make, to direct us as to which roads are going to get the resources and in what order,” Titcomb said.
He added that the goal should also be to develop a unified plan that encompasses residents who approved open-graded emulsified mix (OGEM) surfaces now in need of resurfacing, as well as those who approved a 50-50 funding share with the town and other priorities.
Maniglia said that Collecting Canal Road, to the best of her knowledge, was never on a priority list.
Mayor Robert Shorr said that North B Road, E Road, D Road from Collecting Canal Road to Southern Blvd., and Collecting Canal Road are part of the remaining roads that need to be built up with rock.
“Moving forward, that is what is left to be done,” Shorr said. “Four segments, approximately nine miles, [at $50,000 per mile] is approximately $450,000, so that’s what we budgeted and the purpose of that was road base.”
Engineering consultant Randy Wertepny pointed out that improved drainage is needed in many of those road segments, and that some segments do not have final authorization from residents for the catch basins.
Councilwoman Lisa El-Ramey said there are portions of B Road where she lives that do not need the catch basins and other portions that become almost impassible during heavy rains. She added that the road is migrating from drivers who go off the road to avoid puddles.
Shorr said paving the road will eliminate the problem with drivers going off the road. “I think in that area, where you’ve got continuous drainage all the way down, that’s ready for paving,” he said.
Maniglia favored putting the drainage contract out for another bid because of costs that have gotten out of hand. “We need a new plan. We need to revisit this,” she said. “This is $175,000.”
Shorr supported the drainage work but agreed that the council needs to take a closer look at the contract. “I don’t want to stop progress and take three or four months to get this contract,” he said.
After more discussion, Maniglia made a motion to deny approval of rock for Collecting Canal Road from D Road to Folsom Road, which carried 5-0.
Maniglia also made a motion to direct staff to reevaluate the drainage project, focusing only on North B Road improvements, which carried 5-0.
Councilwoman Laura Danowski made a motion for the town’s public works staff to come back with a hard number of what it would cost to put rock on B Road, which carried 5-0.