The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council approved spending a portion of its last remaining budgeted funds for road materials on Collecting Canal Road at its meeting on Tuesday, March 3 after some debate on where the road rock would be best used.
Collecting Canal Road was one of four projects submitted for completion by Director of Public Works Larry Peters.
“In order to continue to replenish the base rock, there are four main road sections that are not completed. I have listed those four, and staff is seeking your approval,” Peters said.
Peters’ proposal was to spend no more than the available $190,000. He noted that spending $190,000 would cover roughly half of the recommended projects, and spending the entire amount would deplete the road material fund.
Listed roads were A Road from Collecting Canal to Okeechobee (1.25 miles) at a cost of $85,000; South E Road from Collecting Canal to Okeechobee (1.25 miles) at a cost of $100,000; Collecting Canal Road from D Road to Folsom (1.67 Miles) at a cost of $110,000; and Folsom Road, East 25th Street and East G Road (1.0 Miles) at a cost of $80,000.
Staff put an emphasis on South E Road from Collecting Canal to Okeechobee as the road being the most in need of reconstruction.
Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia questioned the priorities that had been placed on previous reconstruction projects.
“I think you know that I have a gigantic problem with the fact that $33,000 worth of rock was put down on certain roads, basically without any consensus from a majority of council, about six meetings ago,” Maniglia said. “It was some of the shorter, smaller roads, and it was prior to North B Road getting done. I think we were all a little surprised at that meeting. So, in hindsight, which road is worst, Collecting Canal or E Road?”
She added that several of the roads listed are also in serious need of repair.
“For some reason, other roads got done, but in my opinion — and I drive all over this place — lot of rock was put down, and I think the roads that were in serious trouble were not done at that time,” Maniglia said.
Maniglia said that putting a priority on Collecting Canal Road is a good idea, due to vehicles using that road to bypass traffic jams on Southern Blvd.
“I think Collecting Canal is getting a lot of traffic. It’s a dust bowl,” she said. “I think you’re kind of forcing us, since we’re at the end of the money, to have to leave people out now.”
Mayor Robert Shorr pointed out that Collecting Canal Road has new drainage that was installed recently.
“I think we need to look at that,” Shorr said. “E Road has no drainage from Collecting Canal to Okeechobee. So, when I look at potential flooding in the hurricane season, I think there’s more potential at E Road. It’s very similar to the way B Road was in that you have the wall on each side with no drainage, whereas Collecting Canal has new road base past D Road, and it has a catch basin now at E Road and another catch basin toward F Road. The only reason I vote for E Road is that it has zero catch basins. I can see that as being the next B Road North situation like we had a couple of years ago.”
Town Manager Jamie Titcomb said staff was bringing priorities to the council each month because of some comments that were made by council members on the selection of priorities. He reminded council members that the town has more needs than resources.
Vice Mayor Dave DeMarois said that completing the segment of Collecting Canal Road from D Road to Folsom would complete Collecting Canal, which has become a bypass for Southern Blvd.
Councilwoman Laura Danowski said she would prefer to finish what the town has started.
“We started E Road from North Road and have worked our way down, and it’s fabulous,” Danowski said. “Let’s finish E Road.”
She also pointed out that at the council’s last meeting, it voted on drainage projects that relate to Folsom Road, 25th Street, G Road and Kazee Road. “We’re putting in drainage, and now we’re going to get the rock finished,” Danowski said.
She would also like South E Road from Collecting Canal to Okeechobee and Collecting Canal Road from D Road to Folsom finished by the end of the month. “And that’s it. No more rock. That would give two months for accounting to catch up. I would love to go into hurricane season with a reserve of road rock for emergencies.”
Danowski added that traffic would calm down some when the equestrian season ends.
Councilwoman Lisa El-Ramey said some of the roads have been refurbished, but they are still narrow in places. She asked Peters if a standard has been set for road width.
Peters said crews are limited in places where utility poles are in the right of way. “In some places, the road is only 16 feet wide,” he said. “We’re placing the rock only where the road exists.”
Shorr asked Assistant Town Manager Francine Ramaglia if she felt comfortable spending the entire budget on road projects, and Ramaglia said she would prefer to have $100,000 in reserve for hurricane season. She added that she agreed with Danowski’s comment that accounting should be given time to true up fund balances.
“Some of Larry’s projects end up coming in under budget, but we’re very close to spending all the money,” Ramaglia said, adding that the account that is used to pay for road rock includes asphalt and other materials for road repair, as well as flag personnel and equipment rental.
After more discussion and public comment, Danowski made a motion to proceed with work on Collecting Canal Road from D Road to Folsom Road, which carried 5-0.