Demo possible before County Commission decides on crosswalk lighting

Sarasota County staff is working on a demonstration of crosswalk lighting examples before the County Commission votes again on a final plan for Siesta Village. Photo by Norman Schimmel

Before bringing up the matter again May 22, during the Sarasota County Commission’s next regular meeting, Commissioner Nora Patterson plans to talk with three representatives of Siesta Key organizations to determine their final thoughts on a county staff proposal for lighting Siesta Village crosswalks, Patterson told The Sarasota News Leader.

Additionally, county staff is working on plans to provide a demonstration of lighting equipment for those same people, according to a May 9 memo sent to one of the three, Peter van Roekens, vice president of the Siesta Key Association.

The other two people are Mark Smith, president of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, and Russell Matthes, the Siesta Key Village Association president.

Van Roekens was the person who proposed the idea of better lighting during the January SKVA meeting, pointing out how difficult it is for drivers to see pedestrians in some of the crosswalks at night.

“It is just an accident waiting to happen,” he said at the time.

“I’d like to get the things lit,” van Roekens told the News Leader, referring to the types of bollards with lights that county staff has researched.

Van Roekens was “fairly insistent we should bring in a couple of the lights,” Patterson told the News Leader, to see firsthand how much illumination they provide. However, she said, she was not sure that would be possible.

Ryan Montague of the county Traffic/Mobility office, which is handling the matter, did indicate in a May 9 email to van Roekens that staff was working on such a demonstration. He wrote that staff hoped to discuss the lighting issue with three or four vendors “and ask them to do a demo with [van Roekens and other Village representatives] either [on-site] or in a similar lighting condition to determine what would work best for Ocean Blvd.”

Patterson and her fellow commissioners had thought a Siesta Village crosswalk lighting plan was settled in mid-March, when they voted unanimously to approve a recommendation for installing bollards with lights at all of the Siesta Village crosswalks. However, the commissioners subsequently learned the price for the bollards and installation was higher than they had understood, so they requested staff to take another look at the matter.

The commissioners had approved $9,350 for the bollards, but that estimate did not include the installation.

Patterson told the News Leader she thought the other commissioners would be willing to go along with the new $42,000 estimate for the Village crosswalk plan, “but I really don’t know for sure.”

The latest staff recommendation, which went to County Administrator Randall Reid on May 3, then to the commissioners, calls for the installation of two bollards at each of the seven crosswalks in the following locations:

• 5250 Ocean Blvd., between the Daiquiri Deck and Gilligan’s Island Bar and Grill

• 5218 Ocean Blvd., between JoTo’s Japanese Steakhouse and Hanna Plaza

• 5202 Ocean Blvd., between Key Corners Plaza and the Village Gazebo

• 5148 Ocean Blvd., between The Hub Baja Grill and the Beach Club

• 5124 Ocean Blvd., between Siesta Plaza and Coldwell Banker

• 5124 Ocean Blvd., between Siesta Plaza and Siesta Center

• 5100 Ocean Blvd., between the Michael Saunders & Co. office and Siesta Center.

The memo says the estimated cost of “a typical decorative LED style bollard is $1,000 per unit,” while the cost of the installation is projected to be $2,000 per unit.

However, the memo points out, “the total cost may vary depending on any unforeseen issues that arise during project design,” such as the necessity of running electrical conduit.

The memo also said staff had researched the installation of bollards in the cities of St. Petersburg and Naples which were features of larger street projects. Those bollards, the memo notes, which “were of a larger and heavier quality than we are anticipating using,” would carry a higher estimated cost: $98,000 to $128,000.

Van Roekens has asked county staff to examine lighting designs he has found through his own research, he told the News Leader. He was interested in concrete bollards, he said, because they are sturdier.

Nonetheless, Montague wrote van Roekens in the May 9 email that while the bollards county staff was considering “are smaller in diameter and they’re made of lighter materials” than examples in concrete, “they should be just as durable and high quality.”

Van Roekens last week also sent another copy of potential lighting suppliers to county staff for research and assessment, pointing out, “It certainly would be nice to do business with a local company if [it meets] the … criteria.”

Editor’s note: The original version of this story cited the wrong date for the next County Commission meeting. The session is scheduled for May 22.