THE COMMITTEE OF THE ISLANDS COTI Statement prepared for the Shared Use Path Plan Update & Open House City of Sanibel November 16 , 2006 The Committee of the Islands welcomes the opportunity to provide input to the master planning process for Sanibel’s shared use path system . The path system is an important part of our infrastructure and deserves thoughtful analysis . I . COTI The Committee for the Islands was formed in 1975 to promote a continuity of good local government . In the succeedin g thirty years it has remained active in Sanibel governance . Its stated purpose is to develop and promote policies and positions designed to maintain and enhance the quality of life on the islands and to preserve the islands ’ unique and natural characteri stics . In pursuit of that purpose it recommends to the City of Sanibel relevant corporate positions and policies . COTI is a registered Political Action Committee . Its current membership exceeds 500 individuals . II . SANIBEL Sanibel is and shall rema in a barrier island sanctuary , one in which a diverse population lives in harmony with the island’s wildlife and natural habitat . Placard behind the dais , Sanibel City Council chambers . Sanibel is a barrier island comprising a wide variety o f natural and altered environments . The community of Sanibel strives to sustain ecological balance and preserve and restore natural settings for residents , visitors and wildlife . The City of Sanibel was established in 1974 in response to concerns that ov erdevelopment threatened that balance . In the words of the Florida statute creating the city , the residents sought , “ THE RIGHTS OF SELF - DETERMINATION , TO THE FULLEST EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW , IN THE PLANNING AND ORDERLY DEVELOPMENT OF AN ISLAND COMMUMITY KNO WN FAR AND WIDE FOR ITS UNIQUE ATMOSPHERE AND UNUSUAL NATURAL ENVIRONMENT . ”Sanibel is indeed unique . The balancing of interests that its character demands defies textbook solutions . Structures that work elsewhere are frequently inappropriate here . We urge the consultants to bring fresh thinking to the circumstances of this island . III . THE SANIBEL VISION Sanibel has developed a Vision Statement as a confirmation of the community’s shared values and goals , to guide future decisions . We commend the f ull statement to the consultants ’ attention , but summarize some relevant elements here . The statement is in three parts . The first part concerns Sanctuary , stating that , “ Sanibel is and shall remain a barrier island sanctuary . ” The second part covers Co mmunity , including the words , “ Sanibel is and shall remain a small town community whose members choose to live in harmony with one another and with nature . ” The third and briefest part of the statement discusses Attraction , and justifies quotation in its entirety : “ The Sanibel community recognizes that its attractiveness to visitors is due to the island’s quality as a sanctuary and community . The City of Sanibel welcomes visitors who are drawn by , and respectful of , these qualities ; it will resist pressu res to accommodate visitor attractions and activities that compromise these qualities . ” The final section of the statement establishes that the vision is a hierarchy of values . The dominant principle is the island’s sanctuary quality . Development of a c ommunity is subordinate to sanctuary . Attraction will be permitted only to the extent that it retains the desired qualities of sanctuary and community . IV . SHARED USE PATHS COTI believes that the purpose of shared use paths is to enhance the Sanibel experience for residents and visitors . The paths are part of the infrastructure of the community . They are not and should not become an attraction that brings to Sanibel people who would not otherwise come . They are subordinate to the sanctuary and comm unity values of the island . Consideration of the shared use paths requires finding a balance among potentially conflicting demands . These demands include safety , cost , environmental and community concerns , and recreation . It is important that the needs of all potential users receive weight . These needs vary . The principle safety issue for bicyclists is vehicular traffic . For pedestrians , bicyclists and roller - bladers can be as much of a hazard as cars . Many of the people who walk on the paths have re ached the age where collision with any fast moving object is a serious concern .It is our understanding that path width impacts the speed at which users travel . The wider the paths , the higher the speeds . COTI’s position is that the current maximum pat h width of eight feet is appropriate , with occasional exceptions for ten - foot widths in areas of particularly heavy traffic . In looking at costs , maintenance is an important factor . It is not enough to think just about construction costs . Sanibel’s expe rience is that it costs about $ 15,000 a year to maintain a mile of shared use path . This reality should be part of any expense analysis . The 2003 Shared Use Path Master Plan listed 31 proposals for path extensions . Many of these suggestions are likely to reappear in the current input . The 2003 analysis examined each proposal with respect to six selection criteria ; 17 failed to satisfy at least two of them . We believe that it is appropriate to consider path extensions that meet the balance standard des cribed earlier and are consistent with the Sanibel Vision . We believe that no expansions into residential neighborhoods or into roads that have no outlet satisfy this test . COTI believes that the shared use paths need upgrading . Sections narrower than e ight feet should be widened to that level . The signage should be brought up to date . There are portions of the system in dire need of repair ; one example is the stretch paralleling Rabbit Road between Gulf Drive and San - Cap Road . We favor improvements o f this kind , but not wholesale modifications that could turn the system into a regional attraction .