Siesta Village crosswalk lighting demo a success

The crosswalk between the Daiquiri Deck and Gilligan’s has been called one of the most dangerous after dark. Photo by Norman Schimmel

County staff says there’s no guarantee the model seen will be installed

The three representatives of Siesta Key organizations present for a Siesta Village crosswalk lighting demonstration Thursday night, July 26, liked what they saw.

However, the type of lighting ultimately installed will not necessarily be what was demonstrated, Sarasota County staff told The Sarasota News Leader today, July 27.

“There’s no guarantee they’re going to get the same thing they were looking at last night,” said Tom Maroney, general manager of business operations in the county’s Public Works Department.

The Public Works staff will have to coordinate with the county’s Procurement Department staff and prepare a report for the County Commission on a recommendation about the lighting equipment, Maroney added.

“The basic premise is … if we move forward with this … to incorporate as competitive a process as we possibly can.”

In fact, Maroney said, after the demonstration, he told the representative from the lighting company, EvoLucia, “‘You may not win the bid.’ … He understands that.”

After dark on July 26, the representative from EvoLucia, which is based in Sarasota, conducted a second demonstration for Peter van Roekens, vice president of the Siesta Key Association; Mark Smith, president of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce; and Russell Matthes, president of the Siesta Key Village Associaton; along with county personnel. This time, the EvoLucia representative used bollards with 15-watt LEDs, instead of the 8-watt model demonstrated a few weeks ago, Ryan Montague in the county’s Mobility/Traffic Office explained to the News Leader.

“The Siesta Village Association members in attendance agreed that this type of lighting configuration is adequate and asked staff to not schedule any further demos,” he added in a July 27 email. “I’ve notified all the vendors we’ve contacted that we are not scheduling any further demos at this time.”

Van Roekens told the News Leader he had emailed County Commissioner Nora Patterson, who lives on Siesta, to tell her of the success of the demonstration: “This is the first time we have seen something that we believe can do the job and so we can move on to the next steps.”

Van Roekens added, “We really appreciate the effort that the entire team has put into this and wanted you to know.”

Smith concurred with van Roekens’s assessment about the equipment on July 26. “I think the bollard is the way to go. It has real promise,” he told the News Leader.

It was the third demonstration county staff has coordinated in the Village since van Roekens proposed during the Jan. 3 SKVA meeting that Siesta organizations work with county officials to provide more illumination for the crosswalks. Van Roekens pointed out that the situation was dangerous, because drivers had difficulty seeing pedestrians in the crosswalks.

Montague wrote in his July 27 email to the News Leader that county staff would be undertaking a technical review of the bollards demonstrated the previous night, including whether their placement would meet Americans with Disability Act requirements and other safety considerations.

Maroney said the county’s engineering staff was checking with the Florida Department of Transportation’s ADA coordinator to make sure the bollards could go where the Siesta representatives felt they would work best.

Smith said it appeared the bollards would be most effective if they were put at the tops of the ramps to the crosswalks. That placement, Smith said, “would keep the light facing perpendicular to the road with less glare for the drivers.”

If the bollards had to be installed on the sides of the crosswalks, Smith said, the lights would have to be tilted, and he feared that would cause problems for drivers.

Smith and van Roekens also concurred on the stability of the type of bollard they saw July 26. It is “as vandal-resistant as you can get,” Smith said.

Along with researching the ADA and safety considerations, Montague pointed out, county staff would need to confirm how many of the units would be needed and which crosswalks should be illuminated.

Siesta representatives several months ago had informed county staff that not every crosswalk in the Village needed the lighting. The crosswalk between Gilligan’s and the Daiquiri Deck on Ocean Boulevard has been identified as among the darkest at night, making pedestrians difficult for drivers to see.

Cost is another factor for staff to investigate.

Maroney estimated that the type of bollard demonstrated Thursday night would run about $1,000, with the installation expense costing approximately $2,000 per bollard.

Maroney then pointed to another question staff would have to research: “Is there enough power [available near the crosswalks] to run these lights?”

Montague added that once staff had all the necessary information, it would be communicated to the County Commission, which will make the final decision on how to proceed.

“We’re going to do our best to get a report to [the County Commission] as soon as possible,” Maroney said.