Owners of property on affected streets to receive ballots so they can approve or reject proposals
Speed humps, a raised crosswalk and a mini roundabout are among the recommendations a consulting firm has offered for traffic-calming measures in the Pine Shores Estates neighborhood, which will be adjacent to the Siesta Promenade mixed-use development.
Siesta Promenade has Sarasota County Commission approval for 414 apartments/condominiums, a 130-room hotel, 133,000 square feet of retail space and 7,000 square feet of office space on approximately 24 acres in the northwest quadrant of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road. The developer is an affiliate of Benderson Development Co., which is based in University Park.
On Feb. 11, Kimley-Horn staff conducted an initial Neighborhood Workshop on traffic-calming measures for Pine Shores, as the County Commission required such steps in conjunction with approval of Siesta Promenade. The second public workshop was held on July 27 via Zoom, so Kimley-Horn representatives could unveil their proposals, based on public comments during the February session. Kimley Horn has been working with Benderson Development for years on various aspects of the Siesta Promenade plans.
With only about 10 attendees this week — other than Kimley-Horn representatives and members of the county’s Transportation Planning Division — Kelly Fearon, a transportation engineer with Kimley-Horn, early on reminded everyone about the study area for the traffic-calming initiative. It included Constitution Boulevard, Brentwood Avenue, Crestwood Avenue, Upper Beachwood Avenue, Upper Glencoe Avenue, Glencoe Avenue, Beechwood Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard.
Fearon said the project team has proposed the following measures:
- A flashing speed feedback sign on Upper Beachwood. “This area came up as a safety concern,” she noted, referring to the first workshop conducted. Drivers use Upper Beechwood to enter the Pine Shores neighborhood from U.S. 41, she said. The feedback sign will alert them to the speed at which they are traveling, Fearon added. The sign’s flashing mechanism is used as a means of encouraging drivers who are speeding to slow down, she indicated.
- A raised crosswalk on Crestwood Avenue at the location of the Mangrove School of Sarasota. (The school stands at 6210 Crestwood, its website says.) That traffic-calming device would slow down vehicles on Crestwood, she said. Typically, such a raised crosswalk has a 10-foot-wide flat top for pedestrians, she noted.
- A mini roundabout at the intersection of Crestwood Avenue and Glencoe Avenue.
- Two speed humps on Hollywood Boulevard and three on Beechwood Avenue. “They’re usually 250 feet to 500 feet apart,” Fearon explained. “The intention is to slow vehicles down and prevent cut-through traffic …”
Fearon also pointed out that, during the Feb. 11 Neighborhood Workshop, the Kimley-Horn representatives received questions about the potential erection of all-way stop signs at certain intersections. “This is something that we are going to study,” she continued, after having discussed the issue with Sarasota County staff.
An eight-hour study of traffic conditions will produce data showing whether such stop signs are warranted, Fearon added. The intersections that will be the focus of the study are Beechwood Avenue and Ridgewood Street; Elmwood Avenue and Hazelwood Street; and Birchwood Street and Beechwood Avenue.
If the study indicates that the signs are needed, Fearon said, then Kimley-Horn would move forward with the permitting and construction process.
Formal approval process for the residents
The next step after the July 27 workshop, Fearon noted, would be the mailing of ballots to all the parcel owners on the affected roadways. Each parcel will get one vote on the proposed traffic-calming measures, she pointed out.
If the ballot results show at least 67% of respondents approve a specific recommendation, she indicated, then Kimley-Horn will proceed with implementing that measure.
Sura Kochman, a leader of the Pine Shores Neighborhood Alliance, which fought the design of Siesta Promenade that the County Commission approved in 2018, asked about the timeline for the ballot process.
Fearon replied that after the ballots are mailed, residents probably would be given at least two weeks and possibly up to a month to return them.
Christopher Hatton, a principal of Kimley-Horn, asked Paula Wiggins, manager of the county’s Transportation Planning Division, how much time she would recommend the firm allow for the ballots to be delivered and returned.
“”You don’t want to hang [them] out there too long,” Wiggins responded. However, she voiced concern about delays with U.S. Postal Service deliveries over the past months. “Account for that, as well,” she told Hatton.
“Just to be on the safe side,” Wiggins said, she would recommend that Kimley-Horn allow “about three weeks or more” for the ballot mailing and collection process.
Kochman asked how residents would learn the results of the balloting. Would Kimley-Horn staff let them know, she asked, or would they have to wait and find out when construction begins?
Wiggins suggested that the affected property owners be notified of the results, just as Kimley-Horn sent out notifications for the July 27 workshop.
Further, Wiggins said that as soon as county staff members get the results, Kimley-Horn can begin the design process.
Philip DiMaria, planning project manager for Kimley-Horn, also said he would make certain that Kochman receives a copy of the recording of the Zoom workshop that evening, so she could distribute it to residents.
Additionally, Kochman asked how soon the traffic-calming structures would be constructed. “Earlier rather than later is preferable,” she said.
DiMaria told Kochman, “We’ll be sure to relay that [to Benderson Development staff].” Nonetheless, he said, he believed the ordinance the County Commission approved for Siesta Promenade called for the work to take place prior to the issuance of the first Certificate of Occupancy for a building in the development.
“That really doesn’t help us too much,” Kochman responded. When construction of Siesta Promenade begins, she pointed out, service vehicles may use the neighborhood as a cut-through, even though county documents make it clear that they are not supposed to do so.
“It would be very helpful,” Kochman added, to have the traffic-calming measures in place before construction of the development gets underway.
“Legally,” DiMaria replied, “we’re bound to what the ordinance requires …” Still, he said, “Your concern is definitely noted.”
Fine-tuning the recommendations
After Fearon finished showing the participants the slides featuring the recommendations, Kochman told the Kimley-Horn group, “I like the mini roundabout at Crestwood and Glencoe.” Then, Kochman continued, “For consistency, if you go further south, if you will, towards Stickney Point [Road] on Glencoe, you’ve got a three-way intersection.” That includes Birchwood and Hazelwood streets, she added.
That is also the location of ingress and egress for Siesta Promenade, she explained.
“I would recommend that you put another mini roundabout there,” Kochman said.
“We did look at that,” Fearon told her. Because the roads do not align in a traditional intersection, Fearon indicated, a mini roundabout would not be feasible.
“Then, if you can’t do that,” Kochman replied, “picture this: [Drivers are] coming off [U.S.] 41 [into Pine Shores], slowing down [for the roundabout], and there’s nothing to stop them from [proceeding afterward as if they were in the] Daytona 500, all the way to Stickney Point [Road].”
The Siesta Promenade design calls for a 10-foot-wide sidewalk along Glencoe Avenue at least to Crestwood, Kochman continued. That has been planned to encourage neighborhood residents to access the retail services that will be part of Siesta Promenade, she added.
Without additional measures to protect pedestrians headed to Siesta Promenade, Kochman pointed out, “There’s no safe way to walk across Glencoe.”
“I would suggest a couple of speed humps as you get further down Glencoe, towards Hazelwood and Birchwood,” Kochman continued, and potentially a raised crosswalk that would align with the driveway into Siesta Promenade. “You can’t just have a [mini roundabout] and nothing for the rest of the road.”
Fearon suggested the potential of adding a raised crosswalk.
“This is a major cut-through,” Kochman emphasized, adding that more than one other traffic-calming measure should be put in place. Drivers use the neighborhood streets to avoid waiting at the Stickney Point Road/U.S. 41 intersection, especially if they are headed to Siesta Key, Kochman stressed.
One other workshop participant, George Arfield, told the Kimley-Horn representatives that he is concerned about the visibility of the mini roundabout at night. “I think you have to make allowances, with the powers that be, that [the roundabout] be properly illuminated at night to avoid major collisions.”
Even in downtown Sarasota, where numerous roundabouts have been built, Arfield continued, after dark, it is difficult to see the structures, as they have no public lighting or reflective paint. In Europe, he pointed out, when a driver approaches a roundabout, the driver sees the international symbol indicating the structure is ahead. “And all [of the European roundabouts] are either painted with reflective paint or very well lit, using public lighting.”
He added, “Our public lighting in this area, to put it politely, sucks.”
Even along U.S. 41 between the neighborhood and Phillippi Estate Park, Arfield noted, numerous traffic lights have been out for months. The county park stands at 5500 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota.
Then Kochman told the Kimley-Horn group that she also had recalled a request that one of her neighbors had made. He often pulls a small construction trailer behind his truck, she said, and he lives near the location where the mini roundabout has been recommended. He wants to be sure the wheels of that trailer can “go up gently on the side [of the roundabout]” without causing damage to the trailer, Kochman said.
Fearon told her that the Kimley-Horn design of the structure would address that issue.