Committee of the Islands

Keeping Sanibel Special Since 1975

SUP on Sanibel 5_28_2007

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May 28, 2007

COMMITTEE OF THE ISLANDS SHARED USE PATHS ON SANIBEL Last November COTI developed a position paper for the Shared Use Path Plan Update and Open House . A copy of that position paper is attached . We believe that enough has happened during the six months since then to warrant a current statement . INTERVENING DEVELOPMENTS December Referendum . In December the Sanibel voters approved a referendum to relocate part of Periwinkle Way . The vote was necessary to support Council’s plan to increase t he separation between the road and the shared use path , for safety reasons . This move was part of $ 1.5 million package of safety improvements Council had passed last summer . While the referendum was not explicitly on the package , we think it is fair to in terpret the outcome as voter endorsement of the Council’s emphasis on safety . March Referendum . The March ballot included a referendum question on adding the Sanibel Vision Statement to the City Charter . The question passed by a 2 - 1 margin . It is clea r that Sanibel voters want the Council to shape its actions in accordance with the Statement and its hierarchy of values . Consultant’s Report . The draft shared use path consultant’s report appeared in April . Though the report was not accepted by Council , it offers valuable additional input , particularly from the survey the report describes . We identify some highlights in the next section . Drumbeat of Bad Fiscal News . One normally expects good news and bad news to be interspersed , with the optimist look ing for a predominance of the former . Unfortunately for Sanibel , recent months have seen a succession of bad news for the City budget . We have lost our share of the toll revenues . Weigh station revenues are down and may disappear . Our share of the coun ty gas tax will decrease on the next recalculation , owing to our declining share of total population . Costs from red drift algae are clearly going to blow by the budget allowances . Property values have ended their annual climb . Ratables may actually dec line , depending on how the real estate market responds to our water quality problems . The state legislature may restrict our ability to raise revenues from property taxes . While this move may not affect the budget this coming year , we can’t ignore the lo nger term implications . SUP improvements as well as other discretionary programs will be affected . Page 2 SPRINKLE REPORT Although its organization masks this fact , the Sprinkle Report taken as a whole can be read as an endorsement of the City’s management of the shared use paths . “ Per capita and per area , the City of Sanibel has one of the most extensive shared use path ne tworks in Florida and even in the country . ” Of 442 path users surveyed for the report , nearly 150 volunteered complimentary comments . The only other responses with this level of frequency concerned maintenance and path width issues . In looking at safety issues , the consultant identified , “ only one area of Sanibel that has consistently been a crash problem over the last three years . ” It is the area for which Council has already approved and funded relocation of Periwinkle Way . In short , at least from the survey data , there are no major problems with Sanibel’s shared use path network and there is a lot that is good about it . THE SANIBEL VISION The consultants included the Sanibel Plan in their document review . It seems clear that they read and heeded the Vision Statement , ending their section on the Plan with , “ … path - related planning should always be done keeping in mind that the goal is not to induce additional visitors . ” Given the action of the City’s voters in March we need to examine the shar ed use paths through the lens of the Vision Statement . The Statement directs decision - makers to resist pressures to accommodate visitor attractions that compromise the qualities of sanctuary and community . We believe that the purpose of the paths is to enh ance the Sanibel experience for residents and visitors . It is not to bring to the island people who would not otherwise be here . The current path network provides an infrastructure for the community ; we believe that significant elaboration of the networ k , particularly as to path width , is likely to cross the line into the kind of visitor attraction the voters were trying to prevent . RECOMMENDATIONS While we see no major problems with the path system , we continue to believe that there is room for imp rovement . That view matches our position in November , but with one important difference : we are now much more concerned about Sanibel’s budget picture . We will make recommendations for possible improvements , but they come with the caveat that funding may not be available . Page 3 Maintenance . This area received a lot of survey comments . The principal concerns appeared to be pathway surface and vegetation control . We suggest that this is a function for which we need better metrics . What is adequate maintenance ? How do we know when vegetati on is under adequate control ? Perhaps the consultants can give us guidance on best practices for a maintenance program , including metrics . Maintenance is a function that COTI believes should be funded at a level that preserves our path network . Path Width . Path width was the other area of major comment by the survey participants . It is impossible to tell from the report whether their concern was principally segments that are currently narrower that eight feet , or the eight foot sections . We continue to b elieve that eight feet should be the minimum goal for path width . We were gratified to see that the consultants believe that an eight - foot width is adequate for all sections of the system . We do not share the view that we should fund a more “ desirable ” t en - foot width , except where traffic levels clearly demand that width . Adequate is what we can afford . Path Extensions . We note with interest that the report does not make any unqualified recommendations for extension of the paved paths . It recommends “ for consideration ” six possible extensions from a prioritized list . The priorities are essentially based on the absence of negatives . There is no affirmative case made for any extensions . COTI believes that reserves should be established on an ongoing basis to fund path extensions as Council determines they are warranted . Signage . The report contains substantial recommendations on signage . As we said in our November presentation , we believe that signage needs to be improved . With the exception of s uggesting that the words “ bike path ” are not appropriate , we have no specific recommendations . Segways . In the January discussions at Council on Segways , COTI took the position that these devices have a bad accident record on Sanibel , and should be barre d for safety reasons . Our view didn’t prevail , but it hasn’t changed . The record of the meetings at that time describes four Segway accidents during the trial period , two of them involving serious bodily injury . It appears that the consultants ’ recommend ation relied on national data , without a review of the Sanibel record . We regret that we still have the tours , but at least the tours have guides who can warn pedestrians of the possibility of approaching danger . There would be no such assurance for indi vidual riders . Motorized vehicles do not belong on the shared use paths . We believe that the current ordinance should be retained . Page 4 Sanibel’s shared use pathways are an important asset of the community . We need to maintain them for the fut ure . COTI appreciates the opportunity to participate in the current review of the path network . May 28 , 2007

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