Anita Kane Tapped As Lox Groves Mayor As Council Plans Workshop On Roads

The newest member of the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council was tapped to serve as mayor when the newly configured council was seated on Tuesday, April 2.

Anita Kane, who won the March 19 election for Seat 3, replaced former Councilwoman Marianne Miles on the dais. The town thanked Miles for her service before Kane and re-elected Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia were sworn-in for three-year terms.

When it came time to pick a new mayor, Kane was unanimously tapped for the largely ceremonial role, replacing Councilwoman Laura Danowski, who has served in the position for the past year. Councilwoman Marge Herzog was chosen as vice mayor.

Kane returned to the dais after a five-year hiatus. She served briefly on the council in 2018-19 to fill a vacancy. She previously served as chair of the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District before it became dependent to the town. In more recent years, she has served as chair of the town’s Finance Advisory & Audit Committee.

After the organizational meeting, the council broke for cake and camaraderie, but when they returned to the dais, it wasn’t long before the divisive issue of roads — a major issue in the recent election — came up and threatened to derail the good feelings.

At issue was a resolution approving the award of a contract to Atlantic Southern Paving and Sealcoating LLC for the town’s fiscal year 2024 road paving program for an amount of just under $1.7 million. The item was presented by Public Works Director Richard Gallant.

Atlantic Southern was the lowest responsible bidder among five companies that bid on the work, which specified 13 specific road segments worked out by the previous council and the previous public works director.

“A couple of months ago, the Public Works Department initiated an invitation to bid to review paving 13 segments in the Town of Loxahatchee Groves that had previously been identified in the Capital Improvement Plan approved in October of 2023,” Gallant explained.

The roads, as listed in the agenda, are: Gruber Road from C Road to D Road, East Citrus Drive from E Road to F Road, 161st Terrace North from A Road to the end, Global Trail from North Road to the end, West C Road from Forest Lane to Robert Way, Kerry Lane south of Okeechobee and west of F Road, 24th Court North north of Okeechobee and west of F Road, 24th Court North north of Okeechobee and east of F Road, 147th Avenue North, West D Road north of Southern Blvd. and west of D Road, Casey Road east of F Road and west of Folsom Road, B Road from the existing pavement to North Road, and North Road from B Road to C Road.

However, Gallant noted that order the roads appear in the agenda is not the order in which they will be done. His plan would be to start with 161st Terrace North, followed by Casey Road, moving on from there depending on the road preparations completed by the Public Works Department.

West D Road, Gruber Road and Global Trail will likely be the last roads to be done due to known issues with those streets, he said.

Kane said she wanted some changes. “I met a lot of people over the last couple of months and have done a lot of driving around the town,” Kane said. “I would like to propose that we change the paving schedule before we accept this resolution.”

Among the changes Kane wanted was removing Gruber Road, West D Road and Global Trail from the list — “or at least move them to the back of the list until changes can be considered,” she said.

She also wanted to move A Road, which is not slated for the current year, onto the list.

“That is one of our Level 1 main roads and it is not being done, even though promises were made to have all Level 1 roads done by the end of this year,” Kane said.

Town staff members noted that work will not begin until June and recommended awarding the bid and working on the order of the streets over the next two months.

The suggestion to eliminate Gruber Lane was supported by resident Rodrigo Godoy, who owns property at the corner of Gruber Lane and C Road and does not support the paving.

Equestrian Ann LeMaster, who lives on Gruber Lane, also requested dropping the street from the paving plan. “If you pave that road, the horses are much more likely to slip and fall,” she said.

Kane said that at least some changes need to be made to the list.

“We need to have a workshop to revisit the capital projects and have the council prioritize the roads anew,” she said. “Then I would have the opportunity to suggest my redesign idea for those roads that would accommodate both equestrians and the people who are walking their dogs or want to ride their bicycles.”

Councilman Robert Shorr warned against making too many changes to the road list, which might lead to expensive change orders with the contractor.

“I say we stick with what we have, and then put together another bid to roll right into Oct. 1,” Shorr said.

Town Manager Francine Ramaglia said that some changes can be made, but others would be a challenge.

“We can definitely change the order and design of the segments,” she said. “It is not in the town’s best interest to add a change order to this particular bid. Better that we do a separate bid, and we talk about that in a workshop.”

Maniglia said that Gallant should be allowed to prioritize the list regarding need. She made a motion to approve the bid award, giving Gallant the authority to change the road order as needed.

Town Attorney Glen Torcivia noted that the contract does not require all the roads listed to be done, and several are pending easements and other work.

Maniglia’s motion to award the bid was approved unanimously, with Kane asking for a road workshop over the next few weeks to give the current council input into prioritizing the order of the roads. Later in the meeting, the council agreed to hold that workshop on Tuesday, April 16 at 6 p.m.